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Rites of Spring

The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age
Written by: Modris Eksteins
Narrated by: Michael Prichard
Length: 14 hrs and 52 mins
Categories: History, Europe

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Publisher's Summary

Dazzling in its originality, Rites of Spring probes the origins, impact, and aftermath of World War I from the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet "The Rite of Spring" in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. "The Great War", as Modris Eksteins writes, "was the psychological turning point...for modernism as a whole. The urge to create and the urge to destroy had changed places." Eksteins goes on to chart the seismic shifts in human consciousness brought about by this great cataclysm through the lives and words of ordinary people, works of literature, and such events as Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and the publication of the first modern best seller, All Quiet on the Western Front. Rites of Spring is a remarkable and rare work, a cultural history that redefines the way we look at our past and toward our future.

©1989 Modris Eksteins (P)2015 Tantor

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-11-17

Fantastic

Beginning is a little odd, but all comes together in the end. well worth the read or listen!

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  • Philip N.
  • 27-03-20

A Remarkable Vision

It is a real advantage to hear to this book read- Prichard's voice is strong, raspy, unpretty and argumentative in tone and, therefore, entirely suited to the topic. Eksteins is arguing for a deep alternative view of the two World Wars and of Hitler's Germany. The facts are not alternative just his vision of how far self-deception and fantasy can govern the lives of our half-baked humanity. Eksteins gives an answer to why and how that happens. He makes the case and suggests no remedy, Hitler was a dress rehearsal for what we are seeing now. To see that clearly and to not be distracted with any notions of a rational end that would bring some equanimity is see what can help us. Essentially it is a better and more creative story that empowers things we could love.

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  • Meeri
  • 16-10-19

Good approach, but does not go far enough

I’ll start with the excellent parts of this book, which were the description of soldiers’ experience during the war, and the final chapter exploring the conditions for the rise of the Nazi party, and the beginnings of WW2.
Now for the not so great part. Without a doubt partly due to my own decision to listen to the audiobook (the narrator of which just somehow did not suit me) rather than read the paperback, I was largely bored throughout the 15 hours of this narration. I was interested and hopeful going into the book, that the more inclusive approach to the causes and impact of WW1, it’s linking to the wider social and artistic currents before, during and after, would also mean that a more balanced attention is given to the experience and impact of women, but I was quickly disappointed to find that the author treats women as mere side notes, “done to’s” rather than doers, and subjects for the pleasure and purposes of men, rather than important agents and actors in the war. Ok, the book was written 20 years ago, and the wider-spread recognition of women as wholesome parts of the human race, rather than mere smaller, weaker versions of men is a relatively new phenomenon, but the exclusion of the female experience still means this book is a bit of a one-sided bore, which says little new. To the author’s credit, the male experience, especially that of the soldiers is beautifully examined and written.

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