Superb … likely to become a classic Observer In the summer of 1914 most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continents politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from. The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison. In 1939 Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse – a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust. To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise – with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times – and what this means for us.