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Wasteland. The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror



Original Language: English (US) | 224 pp. | October 2018


2 Seas Represents: Dutch, French, and Nordic Rights


Historian W. Scott Poole traces the confluence of history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literature.

For fans of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City or Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919, Scott Poole’s newest work brilliantly traces the confluence of the history, technology, and art that gave us modern horror films and literature.

The roots of modern horror are found in the First World War. It was the most devastating event to occur in the early 1900s, with 38 million dead and 17 million wounded in the most grotesque of ways, owing to the new machines brought to war. If Downton Abbey showed the ripple effect of this catastrophe above stairs, Wasteland reveals how how bloody battlefields, screaming asylums, and desolated cities and villages made their ways into the darker corners of our psyche.

Historian W. Scott Poole chronicles the era’s major figures―Freud, T.S. Eliot, H.P. Lovecraft, Wilfred Owen, Peter Lorre, David Cronenberg, and Freddy Krueger―as well as their influences. Wasteland is a surprising―but wholly convincing―perspective on horror that also speaks to the audience for history, film, and popular culture.

November 11th, 2018 is the one-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the armistice that brought World War I to a close, and a number of smart and well-received recent histories have helped us reevaluate this conflict. Now W. Scott Poole takes us behind the frontlines of battle to the dark places of the imagination where the legacy of the War to End All Wars lives on.

W. Scott Poole is a Professor of History at the College of Charleston who teaches and writes about horror and popular culture. His past books include the award-winning Monsters in America and the biography Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror. He is a Bram Stoker award nominee for his critically acclaimed biography of H.P. Lovecraft, In the Mountains of Madness.