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1947: Where Now Begins (2016)

by Elisabeth Åsbrink

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1806119,668 (3.88)29
"The year 1947 marks a turning point in the twentieth century. Peace with Germany becomes a tool to fortify the West against the threats of the Cold War. The CIA is created, Israel is about to be born, Simone de Beauvoir experiences the love of her life, an ill George Orwell is writing his last book, and Christian Dior creates the hyper-feminine New Look as women are forced out of jobs and back into the home."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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This book is a chronological account of events in 1947, jumping around the globe month-by-month to trace what happened in the aftermath of World War II. Åsbrink never explicitly draws links between the events of 1947 and today, but throughout the whole book, you find yourself thinking, "Oh that's how that started." I read this just a few weeks after the fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and some of the worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in years, and those events are directly linked to 1947 and how the creation of Israel was handled (or mishandled). We're also currently seeing a dangerous rise in Fascism, and this book describes how fascist movements went underground and stayed alive in 1947.

Åsbrink also talks about what happened to her own family in 1947, and how some of them miraculously survived the Holocaust. The book is briefly, intensely purposeful as she tries to make sense of how her family was impacted.

Åsbrink does very little analysis, but the way she lays out the events makes recurring patterns obvious. In the partition of India, the creation of Israel, the war crimes trials, and the spread of fascism, the recurring theme is that the world was just too tired to come up with good solutions. The situations were so complex, the moral dilemmas so fraught, the responsibilities so unclear, and the world so exhausted from the war, that it was easier to just draw some borders and call it a day.

The format of the book is both a strength and a weakness. It describes events chronologically, and jumps from place to place. Sometimes a time/place will get a few pages, and sometimes it's just a few sentences. That means the reader needs to keep track of a lot if different threads, and it could get confusing. On the other hand, it creates an interesting kaleidoscopic mood that helps to show how many complex problems were facing the world at once. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jul 24, 2021 |
1947 took me by surprise, because at first it seems like a sort of collage of history in the year 1947, but the further I read, the more personal the book became. Asbrink's linkage of events large and small with the fate of her family makes real events we tend to ignore or to view as sets of facts, dates incidents. Her consideration of the Nuremberg trials, Raphael Lemkin's efforts to outlaw genocide, merge with her own family's journey through the Nazi and post-war years. The Jewish diaspora, the creation of Israel, the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes similarly come alive as the pain of both Jews and Palestinians, the weakness of political leaders and bureaucrats. Along the way, she manages to show without telling how the events of 1947 created the world of 2020. ( )
  nmele | Dec 1, 2020 |
I learned more about post WWII years than I knew before. It was fascinating to follow the year month by month . ( )
  CatsandCherryPie | Mar 15, 2019 |
I don’t remember how I learned about this book but I know I was drawn to it by the title. This may be an embarrassing revelation but 1947 is my birth year so how could I not be interested in this book? And it was absolutely fascinating.

Translated from the Swedish, the narrative was somewhat choppy but I came to view that as purposeful to better describe exactly what was going on during that pivotal year, just a couple of years out from WWII. The author goes through the year month by month describing events that will come to be very important today. Europe is a disaster with little to eat and homes and factories destroyed. And yet people somehow march on and survive.

In the March section she poses this:

”The meeting between Per Engdahl and Johann von Leers is also a point in time from which threads stretch on into the future and at which other names appear, but the dreams are the same: a new Europe, a homogeneous section of a continent in the world. No social classes. No political parties. The individual subordinated to the collective. Authoritarian movements, with leaders who take clear-cut decisions, and in which no time is wasted on slow, unsatisfactory democratic processes. A uniform organism, harmoniously white. Europe a Nation, to quote the British Fascist leader, Oswald Mosley.”

She makes a direct connection between these men, in 1947, and what is going on in Europe and even in the U.S. today. They are responsible for being the first to deny the Holocaust.

She details the establishment of the state of Israel, and the difficulties that accompanied it including the blocking of ships with Holocaust survivors on board by both Britain and the U.S.

The birth of the Muslim Brotherhood occurred in 1947.

The Nuremberg Trials began in 1947.

Simone de Beauvoir, Christian Dior, Thelonius Monk, Primo Levi

The Marshall Plan. And it’s consequences when the Soviet Union refuses to allow Eastern Europe the U.S. aid that would help their people survive.

The birth of jihad under Hasan al-Banna.

The Palestine Problem

George Orwell was on an island with his young son in 1947 writing his most well- known book, [1984]. If that’s not prescient I don’t know what is.

In August, Arnold Schoenberg composes A Survivor from Warsaw for a narrator, choir and orchestra.

The role of the Vatican in helping to set up Nazi escape routes to Argentina to avoid trial was startling to me.

The Kalishnakov rifle was invented by the Russian Mikhail Kalishnakov.

I could go on about this connection between 1947 and the world we know now. It’s absolutely amazing. And fascinating to me.

Very highly recommended. ( )
2 vote brenzi | Sep 12, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elisabeth Åsbrinkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Binder, Hedwig M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, FionaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leborg, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The year 1947 marks a turning point in the twentieth century. Peace with Germany becomes a tool to fortify the West against the threats of the Cold War. The CIA is created, Israel is about to be born, Simone de Beauvoir experiences the love of her life, an ill George Orwell is writing his last book, and Christian Dior creates the hyper-feminine New Look as women are forced out of jobs and back into the home."--Provided by publisher.

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