The deluge The Great War, America, and the remaking of global order, 1916-1931

J. Adam Tooze

Book - 2014

"A century after the outbreak of the First World War, a powerful explanation of why the war's legacy continues to shape our world. The war would make a celebrity out of Woodrow Wilson and would ratify the emergence of the US as the dominant force in the world economy"--

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New York, New York : Viking [2014]
Physical Description
xxiii, 643 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 519-583) and index.
Main Author
J. Adam Tooze (-)
  • The deluge : the remaking of world order
  • The Eurasian crisis. War in the balance ; Peace without victory ; The war grave of Russian democracy ; China joins a world at war ; Brest-Litovsk ; Making a brutal peace ; The world come apart ; Intervention
  • Winning a democratic victory. Energizing the entente ; The arsenals of democracy ; Armistice : setting the Wilsonian script ; Democracy under pressure
  • The unfinished peace. A patchwork world order ; "The truth about the Treaty" ; Reparations ; Compliance in Europe ; Compliance in Asia ; The fiasco of Wilsonianism
  • The search for a new order. The Great Deflation ; Crisis of empire ; A conference in Washington ; Reinventing Communism ; Genoa : the failure of British hegemony ; Europe on the brink ; The new politics of war and peace ; The Great Depression
  • Raising the stakes.
Review by Booklist Reviews

In the centennial of WWI, Tooze's work affords a reminder of that conflict's immense impact on world history. Of the war's myriad effects, Tooze chooses to narrate the emergence of the U.S. as the paramount power on the global stage. Initially impelled by America's war loans to Britain and France, U.S. involvement assumed political dimensions under President Woodrow Wilson. Beneath intricate detail about the form Wilson's ideals took in the armistice and peace treaties, Tooze focuses on the desperate economic conditions that prevailed immediately after the war. Implicating the Entente's debt to the U.S. and Germany's reparations bill to the Entente, national finances and their influence on each power's security position in the postwar world form Tooze's factual foundation. Abundant facts and figures stud his account of the postwar crises up to the end point of 1931, when President Herbert Hoover suspended debt and reparations repayments. Whatever that action's merits, it illustrated the ability of the U.S. to act unilaterally. With this new power-factor as his theme, Tooze's analysis, particularly of fears the American capitalist juggernaut provoked, should spark debate, especially in scholarly circles. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

To Tooze (Yale), WW I marked the "first effort to construct a coalition of liberal powers to manage … the modern world," but his main focus is the collapse of that order and the role the US played in its demise.  The war brought the US to international prominence and allowed it to embrace a "position of privileged detachment … to frame a transformation in world affairs" in which it could exercise its overwhelming global economic dominance.  Whatever temporary success this achieved in the 1920s would be dashed by the onset of the Great Depression and the rise of extremist regimes in Europe and Asia.  Tooze charts these developments in the context of the wartime pronouncements on self-determination advanced by Woodrow Wilson and Lloyd George, as well as the specter of Lenin's communist experiment and the influence of the Comintern.  The author also includes coverage of unrest in India and developments in China.  Tooze's insistence on Wilson's conservatism and the similarities between his views and those of the Republican presidents of the 1920s is an interesting corrective to the traditional view.  A provocative rethinking of a key period in modern world history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --L. M. Lees, Old Dominion University Lorraine M. Lees Old Dominion University Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Tooze (history, Yale Univ.; The Wages of Destruction) examines how the peace and international order established at the end of World War I disintegrated. While most histories of the interwar period blame the collapse on unfair demands placed upon Germany at Versailles and the chaos that accompanied the worldwide great depression, Tooze focuses on the ascendency of the United States as a global superpower. Rather than viewing Woodrow Wilson as merely a liberal internationalist, the author argues that Wilson was a conservative in the sense that he wanted to reestablish the status quo of the 19th-century Gilded Age, with America leading international affairs. Key to Wilson's plan for U.S. dominance was control over international finance. By forcing Great Britain and France to accept drastically reduced German reparations while offering no concessions on interallied war debt, Wilson and his successors were able to manipulate the internal fiscal policies as well as the foreign policies of most of the other major powers in the world. The author argues that rather than American isolationism, it was American mismanagement of the international scene that led to the rise of totalitarianism and World War II. VERDICT A thoroughly researched, much-needed reexamination of America's role in the aftermath of World War I that will appeal to any reader interested in the interwar period. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]—Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL [Page 95]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Tooze (The Wages of Destruction), professor of history and codirector of international security studies at Yale University, successfully maps the "emergence of new order of power" from the ashes of WWI. That order was U.S.-centered and had "three major facets—moral authority backed by military power and economic supremacy"—and, Tooze argues, it arose in the context of a "multisided, polycentric search for strategies of pacification and appeasement." America intervened somewhat unwillingly in WWI, after the Eurasian crisis dragged out for several years. Its entry into the war allowed the Entente to secure a victory, but the Treaty of Versailles yielded only a "patchwork world order." The U.S.'s synergy of "exceptionalist ideology" and "Burkean wisdom" gave it a conservative perspective on its future—a perspective that, Tooze argues, clashed immediately with its "pivotal role" in a fragile global economy. The "great democratic alliance" imploded during the Great Depression—not from "deluded idealism," but from a search for a "higher form of realism." Tooze's grand economic history is stimulating, persuasive, and surprisingly accessible. Illus. Agency: Wylie Agency. (Nov.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A centenary analysis of World War I and its aftermath explores how the conflict fundamentally changed the world, shifting financial systems to America while transforming economic and political strategies in numerous countries. Includes two maps. By the author of The Wages of Destruction. 25,000 first printing. Illustrations. Map(s).

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A century after the outbreak of the First World War, a powerful explanation of why the war's legacy continues to shape our world. The war would make a celebrity out of Woodrow Wilson and would ratify the emergence of the US as the dominant force in the world economy"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An analysis of World War I and its aftermath explores how the conflict fundamentally changed the world, shifting financial systems to America while transforming economic and political strategies in numerous countries.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

World War I did not just change the political landscape of the time but has had long reaching effects on the national identity of most major nations today. Yale professor Tooze takes a new perspective on the war by spending equal time on the pre-war world, the war it self and the period directly after the war up until the beginning of the Great Depression. He explores the ways that the pressures of war affected the international status of the eight major powers of the time: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, China and the United States. This thorough work will be of interest to historians and those fascinated with World War I history. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize - HistoryFinalist for the Kirkus Prize - NonfictionA searing and highly original analysis of the First World War and its anguished aftermath In the depths of the Great War, with millions dead and no imaginable end to the conflict, societies around the world began to buckle. The heart of the financial system shifted from London to New York. The infinite demands for men and matériel reached into countries far from the front. The strain of the war ravaged all economic and political assumptions, bringing unheard-of changes in the social and industrialorder. A century after the outbreak of fighting, Adam Tooze revisits this seismic moment in history, challenging the existing narrative of the war, its peace, and its aftereffects. From the day the United States enters the war in 1917 to the precipice of global financial ruin, Tooze delineates the world remade by American economic and military power. Tracing the ways in which countries came to terms with America’s centrality—including the slide into fascism—The Deluge is a chilling work of great originality that will fundamentally change how we view the legacy of World War I.