1920: A Year of Global Turmoil

Written by David Charlwood
Review by Edward James

2020 is the 100th anniversary of – of what? 1920 is not a memorable date.  David Charlwood describes the year as ‘both world-changing and uneventful’.

We all know that 1914-18 were momentous years that saw four empires destroyed.  We remember that in 1919 the victors and the vanquished in the Great War (apart from Russia) sat down together to settle a new order.  Then what?

For most of the world it was not the peace treaties of 1919 that settled the new order.  It was settled in blood and steel across Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East, and even Ireland in the aftermath of the Great War, often in defiance of the treaties.  1920 gives a month-by-month summary of the little wars which followed the Great War.  It also covers the presidential election campaign in America but surprisingly ignores the Far East and the war in China, where another empire lay in ruins.

Some of these conflicts are still remembered and others are largely forgotten, such as the revolts in Waziristan and Iraq and the destruction of Armenia.  However, as Charlwood points out, they are the origin of several current conflicts.  This is a concise, informative book and very readable.