War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War

War In Peace / Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War

Robert Gerwarth and John Horne (2012)
Oxford University Press: Oxford and New York

The First World War did not end in November 1918. In Russia and Eastern Europe it finished up to a year earlier, and both there and elsewhere in the world it triggered conflicts that lasted down to 1923. Paramilitary formations were prominent in this continuation of the war.

Paramilitary violence was an important ingredient in the clashes unleashed by class revolution in Russia. It structured the counter-revolution in central and Eastern Europe, including Finland and Italy, which in the name of order and authority reacted against a mythic version of Bolshevik class violence. It also shaped the struggles over borders and ethnicity in the new states that replaced the multi-national empires of Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Turkey. It was prominent on all sides in the wars for Irish independence. Paramilitary violence was charged with political significance and acquired a long-lasting symbolism and influence.

War in Peace explores the differences and similarities between these various kinds of paramilitary violence within one volume for the first time. It contributes to our understanding of the difficult transitions from war to peace, re-situates the Great War in a longer-term context, and explains its enduring impact.

Link to the publisher’s website

The book has also been translated into German, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Italian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Russian.


“The quality of the individual essays is for the most part high, and a majority of the essays engages productively with each other, particularly those by the editors, and those on Russia, Italy, the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire.” – Pieter M. Judson, Slavonic and East European Review

“essential reading for anyone interested in the way violence at the end of the Great War led into the post-war period with profound and devastating effects. This innovative collection of essays helps shift the centre of gravity of twentieth-century European studies to the east, and does so through illuminating studies of the breakdown of the state’s monopoly on violence from Ireland to Turkey and beyond.” – Jay Winter, Yale University

“a volume that not only eases the inherent difficulty in understanding post-war themes of societal disillusionment, and political and ethnic struggle, but is committed to advancing the discourse on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of the Great War.” – Justin Dolan Stover, War in History

“this collection is undoubtedly a major contribution to the debate. It brings together an impressive selection of concise yet substantial introductions to complex cases, many of which Western scholars often overlook. Indeed, the book eloquently demonstrates the inadequacy of other histories of Europe that concentrate on West European experiences in that it shows how events in Central and Eastern Europe are integral parts of the continent’s past, not aberrations to a Western norm.” – Christopher Gilley, Europe-Asia Studies

War in Peace offers a valuable look not only at the ‘war after the war’ but also on the nature of paramilitary conflict, and the origins of fascism and collaborationism.” – The NYMAS Review

War in Peace is a thorough, incisive read for any scholar and enthusiast of 20th century European history … an ideal book for understanding more about the internecine politics that led to both world wars.” – Farisa Khalid, PopMatters