Historian and Bram Stoker Award nominee W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literatureIn the early twentieth century, World War I was the most devastating event humanity had yet experienced. New machines of war left tens of millions killed or wounded in the most grotesqueof ways. The Great War remade the world’s map, created new global powers, and brought forth some of the biggest problems still facing us today. But it also birthed a new art form: the horrorfilm, made from the fears of a generation ruined by war.From Nosferatu to Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man, from Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, and Albin Grau to Tod Browning and James Whale, the touchstones of horror can all trace their roots to the bloodshed of the First World War. Historian W. Scott Poole chronicles these major figures and the many movements they influenced. Wasteland reveals how bloody battlefields, the fear of the corpse, and a growing darkness made their way into the deepest corners of our psyche.On the one-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the armistice that brought World War I to a close, W. Scott Poole takes us behind the front lines of battle to a no-man’s-land where the legacy of the War to End All Wars lives on.
- January 1, 1970mark mondayAs a portrait of the many horrors of World Wars I & II, the book succeeds admirably. Poole is an exciting and excitable writer; his outrage at the bloodshed and senseless deaths of these wars is palpable. Many of the passages made me recall some of my favorite history teachers, and how their enthusiasm for their subjects made learning a treat. Subjects treated personally, and with emotion, are subjects that are often made all the more memorable. A dispassionate understanding of the reasons b As a portrait of the many horrors of World Wars I & II, the book succeeds admirably. Poole is an exciting and excitable writer; his outrage at the bloodshed and senseless deaths of these wars is palpable. Many of the passages made me recall some of my favorite history teachers, and how their enthusiasm for their subjects made learning a treat. Subjects treated personally, and with emotion, are subjects that are often made all the more memorable. A dispassionate understanding of the reasons behind and outcomes from these wars is displayed, but delivered with a high emotional pitch and strong imagery; and so the book was a consistently powerful read. Interestingly, it is that same combination of dispassionate understanding and observation informing an emotional narrative which is told with strong imagery that often makes for a powerful horror novel or film.As a rough sketch of the lives and opinions of a handful of artists during this time period, the book is a treasure. Poole visits and revisits a number of well-known people of the era, in particular: Fritz Lang, H.P. Lovecraft, James Whale, Arthur Machen, F.W. Murnau, Franz Kafka, T.S. Eliot, and Walter Benjamin. These are fascinating individuals and the author makes certain I remained fascinated by creating a narrative around each of them, feeding the reader little bits of their lives throughout his chapters, snapshots that are often delivered in chronological order, carefully noting their perspectives and outputs and their growths or regressions, ending with, of course, the ending of each of their lives.As a thesis on the idea that "modern horror" truly began with The Great War... a bit of a wash, unfortunately. (More on this below.) I think I may have enjoyed this book more if I had just ignored its purported reason for being and instead focused on the narrative skills on display and the stories being told by the author. He is a compelling writer, but I think he became a bit lost in the recounting of various fascinating lives, and was perhaps so emotionally overcome at the idea of so much bloodshed during the two world wars that focus was diffused and the whole point of this effort was often submerged. Still, many good points not related to the central thesis were made. I certainly left this experience richer in knowledge. And I was often as angry as the author clearly is when contemplating the foolishness of mankind. This species seldom learns, and what it does learn is often horrific to consider.☠CHAPTER NOTES: (view spoiler)[Foreword: Corpses in the Wasteland A surpassingly passionate introduction regarding the purpose of the book. Touches on some of the Great War's worst battles, various death statistics, PTSD, and elaborates particularly on the idea that the world had literally never experienced such a global catastrophe in all of its history, and how that new knowledge created new, terrible ways of thinking and feeling. An entirely compelling introduction.Chapter One: Symphony of Horror Poole starts his study with portraits of a defeated, death-obsessed Germany suffering a despairing post-war malaise and a hypocritical United States intent on hiding its greed behind a facade of idealism. Murnau and Grau's film Nosferatu is posited as an overt literalization of the heavy hand of mass death, as is Wegener's Der Golem (albeit less convincingly). Kafka's works and T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land are adroitly contextualized and argument in favor of their inclusion within horror are offered. Prague and Surrealism are quickly discussed. There are brief portraits of Fritz Lang and H.P. Lovecraft (I wanted much more on Lang). The chapter closes with excellent snapshots of Arthur Machen and the fabulous James Whale, director of Frankenstein. On a style note, the author's tendency towards stridency and repetition surfaces. That said, he certainly knows how to drive a point home (repeatedly).Chapter Two: WaxworksThe author explores the connection between the Great War's dead and zombies: "empty vessels waiting to be filled with social commentary but also deeply nihilistic reminders of our mortality". Well said! There is lengthy discussion of Abel Gance's J'Accuse, in particular its eerie final sequences, and of course The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Siegried Kracauer's excoriation of film From Caligari to Hitler is dissected and rejected; I quite enjoyed the author's takedown of that interesting but ultimately laughable film studies classic. Leni's Waxworks and one of my favorite films, Dreyer's Vampyr, are explored. Honestly I couldn't see much reason for Vampyr to be included in this chapter. The American take on horror is discussed via the work of Lon Chaney and Todd Browning, and their mutual ability to make the body a thing of horror - much like the war-torn bodies of veterans. Fritz Lang is reintroduced and Lovecraft the cloistered racist and Machen the critical trailblazer return; I imagine/hope that all three will continue to appear throughout the book.Chapter Three: Nightmare BodiesPoole casts his net wide and the results are unfortunately rather incoherent. The chapter starts with a clear goal in its evaluation of the connections between body horror and the disfigurements created by war, automata and the "uncanny valley". Intriguing subjects. However the author stumbles early in evincing too clearly his dislike of Freud's essay "The Uncanny", most jarringly with his patently incorrect comment Freud had the intellectual's tendency to fail at separating personal problems and the conundrum of ideas (obviously the reverse is true: it is the anti-intellectual who most often refuses to see the larger picture outside of their own personal issues and prejudices; I have to also point out that Poole's statement ignores how larger ideas are often most easily understood via personal context); there is additionally a bizarre take on the phrase "comfortable in our own skin". The "banality of evil" and the bureaucratic systemization of atrocity are briefly addressed and interesting overviews of Dada and Surrealism, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, and Leonora Carrington are provided (and, too briefly, Salvador Dali). The only film discussed in depth is Lang's Metropolis. Eliot and Lovecraft are revisited, again, and the chapter closes confusingly with another look at Kafka (and his nightmarish "The Castle").Chapter Four: Fascism and HorrorThis chapter examines the rise of Fascism in Germany and Italy, as well as its pale shadow cast in Britain and the States. But first a quick portrait of Fritz Lang's M, before moving on to deconstruct the movement's appeal and its eroticisation of violent nationalism and its demonization of The Other, in this case Jews, of course. The remaining half of this section returns to Lang and his visit with Goebbels, continuing with a portrait of the quietly courageous artist Otto Dix, touches on our old friend Machen, and closes out with a good scouring of the imbecilic love of Fascism displayed by such lauded artists (and sometimes artist/businessmen) as Celine (ugh), Ezra Pound, Eliot (again), Salvador Dali (ugh), Walt Disney, and of course the author's favorite whipping boy (deservedly), Lovecraft. There is a brief and unconvincing attempt at tarnishing Robert E. Howard as well. This is a problematic chapter. I truly admired Poole's perspective on Fascism, its roots and tendencies and meaning, as well as its resurgence in today's modern world. He writes convincingly, with intelligence and verve. However, I failed to see a connection between what this chapter accomplished - Fascism's use of Horror - and what the book overall is striving to accomplish - centralizing The Great War as the origin of modern horror. There were only faint connections noted between the horrors of World War I and World War II. I was convinced by the chapter but less convinced that it fit within its surroundings.Chapter Five: Universal HorrorsAn accounting of the many horror films produced by Universal Studios in the 30s & 40s. James Whale is examined at length, in particular his Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, the brilliant The Old Dark House, and Bride of Frankenstein. Ernest Thesiger, a fabulous frequent supporting player in Whales's films, is given central stage in a way that is both gratifying and, at times, vaguely disrespectful to the man's wartime experiences; frequent Whale collaborator Colin Clive also takes the stage. Ingenious classics from Paul Leni - The Cat and the Canary and The Man Who Laughs - and Edgar G. Ulmer - The Black Cat - are explored in depth; these three sections are the highlight of the chapter. We return again to Lovecraft, Eliot, and Machen, with some not-inappropriate vilifying of problematic Ezra Pound thrown in. As with the prior chapter, the author fails to solidly connect the horrors of the Great War with the horrors coming in before and during World War II. However there is more of an attempt here in the noting of a "brutalization thesis" that goes some way in explaining how the brutalization of World War I helped to create the callous disregard for life of World War II. Strangely, Poole seems rather shy in specifically spelling this out, and so as with the prior chapter, this section is an absorbing dive into particular films, directors, and writers, but rather fails to link itself to the purpose of the book itself.Afterward: The Age of HorrorThe Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Putin, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, and the establishment of the "American empire" still ruling the world today are all briefly but cogently summarized. Stephen King and David Lynch are mentioned. Most of the major players discussed throughout this book are given a send-off, with the sad death of Walter Benjamin given particular attention. The language throughout is on the melodramatic side of things, which rather (counterintuitively?) reduces the impact of the commentary. The section - and so the book - closes somewhat distastefully with the suicide of James Whale; it opens with a tweet from Donald Trump (quoting Mussolini, and I'd like to LOL at that, but I can't) which was darkly amusing but also felt... rather forced? (hide spoiler)]💀October was my horror binge month, so in addition to reading this absorbing book, I tried to avoid and fib my way out of as many social obligations as possible in order to immerse myself in as many worlds of horror as possible. Part of my excitement in reading this book was in seeing how it correlated to my horror diet. And the reverse as well: seeing how those horror films and books perhaps supported Poole's thesis.Anyway, I will have to consider any connections a bit more, because at first thought, I did not see a whole lot of correlation and supporting going on.Alas, although October was a wonderful month in terms of my horror diet - it was delicious! (mainly) - it was not so wonderful when considering the various horror films, novels, and tv within the framework of Poole's ideas. There was not a good fit. I thought I would be able to write rather extensively on how his ideas connected with these examples of horror, but I really cannot. I can't compare apples and oranges and other clichés. Perhaps I should have focused on the horror films and literature of the period that Poole is discussing - namely the eras preceding and during World Wars I & II, rather than my focus on a diversity of eras (in particular, for films at least, the 60s & 70s). But the book is subtitled with the phrase "Modern Horror"! I expected to see an argument developed on how WW I so impacted horror film and literature that that impact could be seen throughout the subsequent decades. Even the most superficially relevant example - "The Revenant", a novel about ghosts of the Civil War coming to haunt a family - was more about exploring the challenges within the modern nuclear family unit than about the banality of atrocity, the horror of disfigurement, or the terrible facelessness of mass death - although all three of those were present as devices within the book. But they were devices, not the actual theme of the book. The story most connected to the ideas discussed in Wasteland was, ironically, Leonid Andreyez's "Lazarus" - written prior to World War I. There was one example of a film that can be contextualized within Poole's thesis: the delirious Japanese movie "Genocide", which displayed the many horrors that come from the human hunger for more power, more weapons, more revenge.Whether it was contagious excitement about death displayed in Sion Sono's "Suicide Circle", the zombies spawned by faulty, insect-controlling technology in Jorge Grau's "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie", the leftist nightmare of a reactionary world contained within the execrable tv show "The Purge", the potential horrors of spiritual transcendence and rebirth in Grant Morrison's "Nameless", the fear of sexuality displayed in "Incubus", or perhaps most relevantly, the toxic psychological backwash that can happen when guilty memories are repressed in Arthur Machen's "Children of the Pool"... I saw scarce evidence anywhere of a connection to the ideas discussed in this book. That lack of connection is interesting to contemplate. Poole does makes a convincing case for how the themes he's noted are present in those particular films and stories created during the era under his review. That lack of connection is interesting, and also a caution, because it is an illustration of how quickly humanity is able to forget lessons learned and how thoroughly the past can be buried and forgotten. 💀HORROR LISTS: (view spoiler)[Books> Deathchain by Ken Greenhall - turned out to be a mystery, not horror. excellent.> Supernoirtural by Ian Rogers - good.> The Witching Hour by James Gunn - eh.> "The Happy Children" & "Children of the Pool" by Arthur Machen - these were okay, but not as creepy as I'd have liked.> The Revenant by Hugh Zachary - excellent. what a find! a haunted house tale.> Powers of Darkness by Robert Aickman - excellent, per usual. not one of my top favorites of his collections though> The Shadow Out of Providence by Ezra Claverie - good. clever. a self-described "metatext"> Famous Modern Ghost Stories - a handful of excellent amidst a lot of not-so-excellent. strongest: "Lazarus" by Leonid Andreyev> The Haunted Planet by DJ Arneson - wow, this book for kids was surprisingly intense and grim> Nameless by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham - incredible!> Cold Front by Barry Hammond - solid> Not Yet Dead by Joseph Citro - eh. his Dark Twilight was so much betterFilms> Encounter with the Unknown (US/1973) - terrible. omnibus. Rod Serling narrates.> A Whisper in the Dark (Italy/1976) - pretty good. imaginary friend or family caretaker? campy, stylish, weirdly fascinating. Pino Donaggio score.> Die Screaming, Marianne (Pete Walker/UK/1971) - excellent. groovy opening, dynamic direction. mystery not horror though.> Slaughter High (US/1986) - typically moronic/fun 80s slasher. April Fool's Day theme.> Drauga Saga (Iceland/1985) - eh. odd little no-budgeter about a haunted tv studio and reincarnation/possession.> Incubus (US/1982) - terrible. bizarrely, ineptly directed and acted. inexplicable incestuous underpinnings.> The Thing (John Carpenter remake/US/1982) - umpteenth time I've watched this semi-modern classic. one of my favorites.> The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (Italy/1974) - bottom of the barrel giallo. ugly and boring.> The Fox with a Velvet Tail (Italy/1971) - above average giallo. beautifully shot and zero gore (kudos). glossy lifestyle porn with moments of startling cruelty> Laurin (Germany/1989) - excellent. eerie and atmospheric tale of murders in a 19th century village. beautifully directed.> Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (Jorge Grau/Spain/1974) - really good. Spanish director, English cast and setting. dynamic direction, lovely setting, insane gore near the end.> Genocide (Kazui Nihonmatsu/Japan/1968) - pretty good. insects sick of humans, a sexy but deranged concentration camp survivor's deadly toxin, and American lust for an H-bomb all come together on a Japanese island. kaboom.> Suicide Club (Sion Sono/Japan/2001) - impressive. easily the most disturbing, intelligent, and repulsively graphic of all the films watched. rooftop scene was incredible.> Blacker Than Night (Mexico/1975) - very enjoyable. four stylish young women move into a mansion that includes an overly friendly cat. an old-fashioned haunted house tale.TV & Anime> Outcast (season 1) - excellent. the grim, depressing atmosphere is remarkably well-sustained. contained many surprises. acting is great, particularly Grace Zabriskie. fellow who plays the priest bugged though.> The Purge - in which I learn that leftist paranoid agitprop in horror is just as eye-rolling as right-wing paranoid agitprop. anyway, I gave up.> Junji Ito Collection - this was ok - not as bad as its reputation. certainly the brightly colored and straightforward visuals do a disservice to the detailed and atmospheric nightmares that JI put on the page. but there's something about the lighthearted presentation that makes the horrors all the more horrible. only one was unwatchable for me (the incredibly gross Grease/Glyceride). the last couple featuring Tomie were suitably disturbing. I loved the ones featuring the supernatural misadventures of resourceful student Tooru Oshikiri from Hallucinations> Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror - portmanteau of variable quality. (1) grim and boring, (2) colorful romantic fantasy, (3) gorgeous prelude to the series Mononoke.> The Haunting of Hill House - excellent, at least up until its laughable final episode> Real Housewives of Orange County - as horrifying as everHorrific Excuses> Oakland Museum & Food Trucks w/Temple - "Hard day, need to burrow at home"> Drinking w/Steve - "I feel like I'm hungover, I think"> Training w/Walter - "I'll definitely come to the next one, sorry to keep missing this!!> Volunteer Social - (French exit)> Happy Hour w/Jill - "Sorry, gotta get ready for my trip"> Volunteer Group Interview - "Chellee, can you take this one? I have an early flight the next morning" [excuse did not work]> Night 4 of Drinking in New Orleans - "If I'm going to go out tomorrow, I definitely can't go out tonight. I'm old! My liver hurts."> Wine Kitchen w/the neighbors - I'm still recovering from New Orleans> Kids' Halloween Party - I have a birthday party I have to go to> Birthday Party - I think I feel a migraine coming on but I'd love to take you out to dinner soon> Halloween Party - I have enough tech people in my work life, I don't need to be surrounded by them during my free time! I'll be staying home to watch a carefully curated selection of horror films, thank you very much! [Excuse said silently to self while smiling & nodding & making noncommittal noises] (hide spoiler)]☠more
- January 1, 1970Bill KerwinVeterans Day 2018. As always, I emailed my friend the Colonel to tell him “thanks for your service” and to let him know I was thinking of him. But this time I added something else: “And I’m also thinking of Ypres, the Marne, the Somme, Belleau Wood . . .” What I didn’t tell him was that those memorable battles were on my mind not only because Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, but because I had recently finished reading W. Scott Poole’s Wasteland: the Great War and the Origins of Veterans Day 2018. As always, I emailed my friend the Colonel to tell him “thanks for your service” and to let him know I was thinking of him. But this time I added something else: “And I’m also thinking of Ypres, the Marne, the Somme, Belleau Wood . . .” What I didn’t tell him was that those memorable battles were on my mind not only because Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, but because I had recently finished reading W. Scott Poole’s Wasteland: the Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror, and my imagination still seethed with the images Poole uses to supports his simple, compelling thesis: In every horror movie we see, every horror fiction we read, every monster we fight in PC and console games, the phantoms of the Great War skittle and scratch just beyond the door of our consciousness. Numberless dead and wounded bodies appear on our screens, documents of barbarism co-authored by the Great War generations and all the forces that have fed off them in the decades since. W. Scott Poole, a professor of history at the College of Charleston and author of Monsters in America, Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror, and In the Mountains of Madness (a critical biography of H.P. Lovecraft) is a man who certainly knows his horror. But Poole, also knowledgeable about literature and the visual arts, is adept at using his erudition to illuminate—or perhaps I should say “darken”— the consciousness of his reader with the penetrating images of carnage and death that infect the 20th century imagination.Poole is at his best when he is summarizing narratives—like Murnau’s film Nosferatu or Kafka’s story “In The Penal Colony”— for he has an extraordinary talent for choosing the proper details and arranging them in the best order. Because of this, he does not have to develop his thesis in laborious paragraphs. Instead, he shows you what he means to tell you, and that showing, in itself, is often enough. He is also very good at choosing works of visual art, both essential and obscure, to illustrate his ideas. His treatment of Picasso’s “Guernica,” with which I am very familiar, was instructive, but I was also pleased to be reminded of the work of the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, and to be introduced to a powerful painter of the trenches, the Weimar Republic's Otto Dix.I was also pleased by Poole’s mordant point of view, which often guides his choice of biographical and historical details, some of which are only tangentially relevant: the fact that Metropolis director Fritz Lang like to wave his pistol around; that Franz Kafa’s sisters died in the Holocaust; that Dali got Bunuel fired from MOMA for being a commie; that there is strong edivence Walter Disney attending meetings of the German American Bund; that the American soldiers at My Lai found the massacre such hard worktiring that they decided to break for lunch.This is a rich book. It can be dipped into at a whim, or read right through, depending on your preference. If you have an interest in the Great War or the art of horror, you will find much to delight you here, but I would particularly recommend it to anyone who admires the silent films of the Weimar Republic or the classic Hollywood horror movies of the '30's, particularly the two Frankenstein films directed by WW I veteran James Whale.But be warned . . . its the kind of a book that can haunt you, that may make a small but indelible mark in the manner in which you view things, particular those movies you watch late at night. The vampire, the zombie, the blank-eyed automaton, the reanimated creature assembled from the remnants of cadavers: they may appear to be something new to you now, uneasy spectres spawned in the trenches that bordered the reality called No Man’s Land. Like me, you too may find yourself thinking of Ypres, the Marne, the Somme, Belleau Wood.more
- January 1, 1970Sadie Hartmann Mother HorrorReview coming soon in SCREAM magazine.
- January 1, 1970Erik GraffThis was a surprisingly engrossing review of the western horror cinema, literature and art inspired by the European experience of WWI, with cinema, still in its infancy, receiving the most attention. Beginning with a quotation from Walter Benjamin, Poole's approach is academic without being dry, fact- and anecdote-filled without being shallow. Indeed, Poole has a point beyond his investigation of the origins of the horror genre, that being the contrast between the appropriation of the experience This was a surprisingly engrossing review of the western horror cinema, literature and art inspired by the European experience of WWI, with cinema, still in its infancy, receiving the most attention. Beginning with a quotation from Walter Benjamin, Poole's approach is academic without being dry, fact- and anecdote-filled without being shallow. Indeed, Poole has a point beyond his investigation of the origins of the horror genre, that being the contrast between the appropriation of the experience of the First World War and that of the Second. Further, and with some relation to this point, he considers the political manipulation of emotion, most pointedly by the fascists of the 30s and 40s, most recently by the alt-right and the Trump administration.As is often the case with good books, I wish there had been more such as, for instance, a discussion of David Lindsay's literary work. What Poole does focus on are primarily well known films, writers and artists--enough points of contact to afford access to most readers.more
- January 1, 1970JoeTraversing Surrealism; German Expressionism; the writings of people such as T. S. Eliot & H. P. Lovecraft, and finally culminating in the Universal Horror films of the 1930s; W. Scott Poole's book THE WASTELAND is fantastic study of how "The War To End All Wars" became the foundational event in creation of modern Horror. More than just a book for fans of Stephen King, this is a must read for everyone who wonders how and why a generation's fear created the 21st century.more
- January 1, 1970Dominique LamssiesI've been waiting for someone to write this book for a long time and I'm glad this is what we got.In Wasteland, W. Scott Poole takes us through the highlights of art forms and movements in the interwar years. The book is divided into chapters that deal roughly with topics, such as fear of the corpse and what he calls "death dolls." That tends to fall away after awhile but the chapters do move chronologically. They're not entirely self contained. Most chapters have sections that focus on particul I've been waiting for someone to write this book for a long time and I'm glad this is what we got.In Wasteland, W. Scott Poole takes us through the highlights of art forms and movements in the interwar years. The book is divided into chapters that deal roughly with topics, such as fear of the corpse and what he calls "death dolls." That tends to fall away after awhile but the chapters do move chronologically. They're not entirely self contained. Most chapters have sections that focus on particular artists, mostly writers, such as Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft and Franz Kafka.The book doesn't explore exclusively horror, but rather horrific imagery, discussing such films as J'Accuse, writers such as Kafka, and movements such as Surrealism.If you are looking for a book that discusses the war or life in the trenches, this is not the one for you. There's a small discussion of some facts and figures of the war, but just enough to give a basic understanding so the reader can fully ruminate about the presented conclusions. That does not mean the book is an easy read. By necessity Poole discusses the major trauma that soldiers witnessed, so there's corpses and violence abound.Poole does a good job of showing the main fears the Great War created and how they manifested in many media in both Europe and America and why they manifested differently or more slowly in each area.There is quite a bit of discussion of film and film buffs will find the extensive coverage of Murnau's Nosferatu (which is a special focus for Poole, who brings this film up in more places than any other single piece he discusses) and the films of James Whale. I can't say I'm entirely convinced in some of his conclusions about Whale's films, but the section is still solid.Poole writes the book from the perspective that the Great War never ended and makes a compelling argument for that. However, that also opens the gate for him to go off about World War II a little more than I would like. Facism is, of course, a horror of its own, was a result of WWI and had it's own effects on horror, but the book is about WWI, so we don't need to assert that WW2 was worse (which is a statement I would argue with) or about Hitler. It's unnecessary and smacks a little as hero worship of WW2 veterans.That aside, I got what I wanted from this book. It may not be the most in-depth thing, but it's a great starting place for readers to go out and discover these artists and their works for yourself.more
- January 1, 1970JohnThe book was not what I expected. The focus is less on the war itself but more on the horror genre in various presentations. That is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, but I think there must be a foundational interest in the horror genre first, rather than an interest in the history and aftermath of the war. But a very innovative approach, coupled with a compelling argument about what the war wrought. And I did learn about the horror genre (H.P. Lovecraft, for example) that made the overall wo The book was not what I expected. The focus is less on the war itself but more on the horror genre in various presentations. That is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, but I think there must be a foundational interest in the horror genre first, rather than an interest in the history and aftermath of the war. But a very innovative approach, coupled with a compelling argument about what the war wrought. And I did learn about the horror genre (H.P. Lovecraft, for example) that made the overall work an informative read.more
- January 1, 1970RobertThe next time you hear that "horror isn't political", refer that person to this book...
- January 1, 1970Shannon AA book I never really thought I would read as I don't care for horror. I flew through the pages. This is one of the most intriguing histories of war and how it's influence has reached into every aspect of our lives to this day. I simply could not put this book down! Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstoremore
- January 1, 1970DavidI have very mixed feelings about this book. It is only fair to say that I have never enjoyed the horror genre. But the author has some important things to say about the way in which the many deaths of the first world war drove this category of literature of movies and how it was leverage by the fascists in their drive to power.But the chapter on horror and fascism I found compelling and timely. He suggests that fascism is about art more than politics and that culture always trumps politics – at I have very mixed feelings about this book. It is only fair to say that I have never enjoyed the horror genre. But the author has some important things to say about the way in which the many deaths of the first world war drove this category of literature of movies and how it was leverage by the fascists in their drive to power.But the chapter on horror and fascism I found compelling and timely. He suggests that fascism is about art more than politics and that culture always trumps politics – at least that’s the fascist perspective. The author argues that fascism is about a certain cultural aesthetic – treating enemies as subhuman monsters, theatrical and real violence. People supported fascism because they saw it as an effort to combat monsters in their midst. Fascism gave the middle class and the lower orders a chance to vent their rage at the world upon marginalized groups. The author sees this as something that runs parallel to the popular horror movies of the first half of the 20th century and reinforces Fascism. Like I said pretty disturbing stuff. Poole also compares this to Trump and Bannon and how they are employing the same strategy to achieve political power.more
- January 1, 1970LauraI want to make it very clear that I greatly enjoyed this book. It’s absurdly fascinating to anyone interested in cultural history, and I found his arguments very compelling, especially as he remarks that, in many ways, the Great War still continues today. I’ve never read a nonfiction history that was as humorous or as casual as this, and I greatly enjoyed that as well - Poole writes like a human being, like this is the coolest thing he’s ever learned and he just REALLY wants to talk about it. I I want to make it very clear that I greatly enjoyed this book. It’s absurdly fascinating to anyone interested in cultural history, and I found his arguments very compelling, especially as he remarks that, in many ways, the Great War still continues today. I’ve never read a nonfiction history that was as humorous or as casual as this, and I greatly enjoyed that as well - Poole writes like a human being, like this is the coolest thing he’s ever learned and he just REALLY wants to talk about it. I relate to that very much, and appreciated his unedited enthusiasm.But I can’t quite get myself to give it a full 4 stars, because there were times when I was bored, or confused, or both, and it would take a while for me to get back into the swing of things. Was that because of the book, or because it’s been a long time since I’ve read nonfiction? Who knows. I really liked this & plan on recommending it to all my nerd friends.more
- January 1, 1970Federico NemmiThis is a very enjoyable book. Well written, well sourced and extremely interesting. Furthermore, it gave me a craving for going back and watch even more silent and classic horror flicks (and read Machen). I give only 3 stars because in my opinion the book fails in convincing of the main thesis of the author. Although some of the arguments made by Poole are perfectly reasonable I think that some other (e.g. the link between Lovecraft cosmic horror and the great war) are pushed a little bit too f This is a very enjoyable book. Well written, well sourced and extremely interesting. Furthermore, it gave me a craving for going back and watch even more silent and classic horror flicks (and read Machen). I give only 3 stars because in my opinion the book fails in convincing of the main thesis of the author. Although some of the arguments made by Poole are perfectly reasonable I think that some other (e.g. the link between Lovecraft cosmic horror and the great war) are pushed a little bit too far.All in all a book that I would strongly suggest to any horror fan.more
- January 1, 1970CaitlinI really wanted to enjoy this book but I felt like the author talked in circles. I was also wishing for a deeper exploration of the ties of the horror genre and war than a basic “men saw people die therefore they could relate to watching men on screen see people die” narrative.more
- January 1, 1970KevinI was really fascinated by the premise and was looking forward to this, but I can't finish it. It's just too dry to get through. Very disappointing.
- January 1, 1970CraigtatorI was expecting more of a deeper analysis of modern horror themes and their roots in WWI. Although discussed, it was more of a litany of German movies and art made immediately after WWI.
- January 1, 1970Priesethe book was a little emotionally.
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