"There is a striking similarity between the questions we ask about 1914 and 2008," writes Adam Tooze. "How does a great moderation end? How do huge risks build up that are little understood and barely controllable?… How do the passions of popular politics shape elite decision-making? Is there any route to international and domestic order? Can we achieve perpetual stability and peace? Does law offer the answer? Or must we rely on the balance of terror and the judgment of technicians and generals?" With these questions, Tooze, a distinguished British historian, now teaching at Columbia University, finishes his monumental narrative history of 10 years that have reshaped our world. These are, he adds, also questions "that haunt the great crises of modernity". Yet the fact that the book closes, rather than opens, with these questions indicates that it does not provide the answers. Instead, Crashed gives readers a detailed and superbly researched account of the origins and consequences of...

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