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After the end of the Great War, Western nations - winners and losers - were in a state of shock. They had suffered a human catastrophe of unimagined vastness, and it seemed as if the certainties and values of the old world had been buried with the mangled victims. Patriotism, optimism, social hierarchies and faith in progress had been crushed by a wave of disappointment, grief and bitterness as states struggled against anarchy and revolution. Still, people traumatized by their sense of loss began to rebuild their lives amid the economic, social and political turmoil. By tracing developments in both the USA and Europe year-by-year, Fracture describes the ways in which individuals and societies reacted to the collective trauma of the War, from the shell shock victims of the trenches to African-American families in Harlem and mobsters Chicago, from British aristocrats and Italian fascists to Austrian workers and Ukrainian peasants. The sense of optimism of the 1920s is followed by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, and then by a slow process of reconstruction threatened by huge social strains until it partly succumbs to the logic of fear and to war.Underlying the historical narrative is a simple question, which has become newly relevant today: How do you live if all certainties are gone? What is truly valuable in a crisis? And what price are we willing to pay for certainty and security? After 1918, millions turned to the big answers, to communism and fascism, while other simply tried to survive, or to have fun. In the end, the dreams of a new world turned into a murderous nightmare that engulfed the world. Eighty years later we are facing similar challenges.