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Edward PetersCullen Murphy has an unusual talent for dealing in surprising ways with historical comparisons of past and present in lucid and lively prose. He writes intelligent history because he reads and understands current historical research and applies its results consistently…This is very high-end, appealing and thought-provoking popular history. It does its historical duty by making us look at several aspects of the past from an unconventional and surprising perspective. It does its public duty by making us consider our own world as the outcome, at least in some respects, of a process of modernization that needs to be understood and regarded more critically.
—The Washington Post