“The Swedish journalist Åsbrink’s '1947' is an extraordinary achievement. [...] Åsbrink is throughout attentive to the complex dynamic produced by the Holocaust’s multiple aftermaths, the urgently necessary and terrifyingly confusing process of decolonization and the consolidation of the Soviet bloc. Her constant intercutting of the world-shaking with the quotidian — including her father as a child navigating post-Nazi Budapest — underscores a challenge to more mainstream genres of history writing. The year 1947 did mark a tipping point between the savagery of the immediate past and the tentative stirrings of postwar potentialities. Ultimately most compelling is 1947’s relationship to our present. A chilling recurrent subplot involves the remarkably rapid regrouping of undeterred ex-Nazis, already inventing denialism, networking transnationally and dreaming up a renewed pan-fascist future.”
The New York Times Book Review
“…[A] gripping history, formed as a patchwork of significant events. In Paris, the final names are added to the treaties ending the war; in New York, Billie Holiday plays Carnegie Hall; in Cairo, the Arab League convenes on the issue of Palestine; on a Scottish island, George Orwell completes “1984.”…[Åsbrink’s] careful juxtaposition of disparate events highlights an underlying interconnectedness and suggests a new way of thinking about the postwar era.”
The New Yorker
"In this highly readable and original narrative history, Swedish journalist and author Elisabeth Åsbrink offers a salutary lesson that gives the lie to the idea that humanity learns from its misstakes, and reminds us that small steps and seemingly minor choices can make waves, both across the globa and across time. […] Five stars."
"Among innumerable turning points in history, 1947, just two years after World War II ended, is a year worth review. Åsbrink's book, translated from the Swedish, makes some of that year's neglected history and high drama tangible and meaningful. With a technique reminiscent of John Dos Passos' "newsreels," the author records events from across the world (Paris, Palestine, New York, Los Angeles, Budapest, Berlin, Delhi, etc.), using the present tense to create a sense of immediacy…Throughout the book, Åsbrink artfully selects her narratives…A skillful and illuminating way of presenting, to wonderful effect, the cultural, political, and personal history of a year that changed the world."
"A fascinating and thought-provoking fresco of the flow of twelve months of world history. The language and story telling unveil our history as well as opens us to other ways of thinking than traditional historical analysis."
"A powerful and enormously moving new book"
"1947 is equally an instructive lesson in history as it is beautiful and well-written prose. Read it!"
"The book is fantastic."
"If you don’t get your hands on this book you will miss out not only on a historically meaningful year, but on a strong reading experience."
" … a book that is both a collection of images from the past and a rare timeless mosaic that the reader has to put together herself … Elisabeth Åsbrink’s 1947 is a well written and captive book. But more than that: it fascinates by opening so many separate, and at the same time connected, stories."
"Elisabeth Åsbrink writes sentences that make one gasp in admiration."
The Sydney Morning Herald
"It’s a remarkable book. It charts world events – month by month, city by city – for the year of 1947, as the world recovers from the cataclysm of WW2. And even if you think you are reasonably up to speed with modern history because you’ve read books and watched films and you know people who lived through it, you will probably find yourself surprised by some of what’s chronicled here. I certainly was."
ANZ LitLovers blog