The End of the Twentieth Century and the End of the Modern Age

Overview

Historian John Lukacs's brilliant new book offers a provocative summing-up of the twentieth century, that age of iron which began with the guns of August in 1914 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Distinguished by its author's masterly style and command of detail, The End of the Twentieth Century is a startling examination of where we are today, how we got here, and where we are headed. Centering on Europe, America, and the relations between the two, Lukacs argues that the major battle of ...
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1993 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 291 p. Audience: General/trade. As new in as new dust jacket. Clean, tight copy with no ... writing; the pages are starting to yellow. As new dust jacket with light shelf wear for its age. A VERY NICE SOLID COPY! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Historian John Lukacs's brilliant new book offers a provocative summing-up of the twentieth century, that age of iron which began with the guns of August in 1914 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Distinguished by its author's masterly style and command of detail, The End of the Twentieth Century is a startling examination of where we are today, how we got here, and where we are headed. Centering on Europe, America, and the relations between the two, Lukacs argues that the major battle of our time has been waged between forms of nationalism rather than between communism and democracy; that the great watershed events have been the two world wars, not the Russian Revolution; and that the century's radical revolutionary was neither Lenin nor Chairman Mao but Adolf Hitler. The book puts into sharp perspective such events as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the civil war raging in what was Yugoslavia, and the resurgence of right-wing politics in a reunited Germany. Rather than the end of history, we are now witnessing the end of the modern era, and what awaits us is not the triumphal reign of liberal democracy but a troubled time that may echo much that is most questionable in our age. Informed by the precision and insight that have made Lukacs a leading historian, The End of the Twentieth Century is a reckoning both personal and professional - at once a brilliant rebuttal to Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and an outstanding, if sobering, work of historical mediation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While ``the twentieth century was the American Century,'' distinguished historian Lukacs contends that the 21st century is not likely to be dominated by U.S. interests. From his perspective, the end of the modern age is at hand, as superpower politics gives way to resurgent nationalism and the authority of centralized goverments declines. In these brilliant, often unorthodox historical reflections, Lukacs assesses the overwhelming impact of Hitler and two world wars on our century. He asserts that the Cold War began winding down in 1956, and that it was the result of a reciprocal misunderstanding between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. In both East and West, he finds overextended, heavily bureaucratized regimes vacillating atop societies whose social mortar--civility, morals, common sense, law--is crumbling. Lukacs joins these musings with personal impressions of a visit to Hitler's birthplace, a 1990 White House dinner and his recent bittersweet return trips to his native Hungary, which he fled in 1946. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Lukacs begins these highly personal reflections on current history by stating, ``the main political force in the twentieth century has been nationalism, not Communism.'' Hitler, not Lenin or Mao, is the great revolutionary of the century, he argues; Western liberalism's enemies borrowed from the Fuhrer their reliance on a radical and exclusionist nationalism. Populist nationalism remains a potent mixture, especially in Eastern Europe, where it ``is the only religion that still possesses a functional rhetoric.'' Part history, part memoir, this book, parts of which appeared in Harper's , will appeal to general reader and scholar alike. Those who have read other works by Ingersoll Prize-winner Lukacs (most recently, The Duel , Ticknor & Fields, 1991) will not be disappointed; a catholic reading of history leads to piquant and highly original observations on many topics of current concern. More modest in aim than Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man ( LJ 1/92), Lukacs's book is also more solid.-- David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Gilbert Taylor
Lukacs muses about the significance of the end, not of the twentieth century, but of ideologies: communism, national socialism, and, implicitly, democratic liberalism. In his career as historian (e.g., "The Duel: The Struggle between Churchill and Hitler, 1940" ), he has stored up an atticful of facts about this troika of isms, and they tend to tumble out willy-nilly. They land in chapters on countries each ideology has been entwined with--Russia, Germany, and the U.S., respectively. For some additional purpose--to reinforce the sense of erudite aimlessness, perhaps?--the author also throws in reams of personal observations from recent trips to Europe. To the extent that his flitting thoughts adhere, it is on the person of Hitler, whose revolutionary virulence, Lukacs declares, can't undercut, and may aggravate, the new nationalisms enflaming Europe. Though self-indulgent and rambling, these essays are an interesting and pertinent swan song from an estimable writer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395584729
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/9/1993
  • Pages: 288

Table of Contents

I The End of the Twentieth Century 1
II The Revolutionary 10
III The End of the Cold War: Good-Bye to All That? 21
IV Russia. The Frontier 44
V Germany. The Center 79
VI Between Two Worlds 111
VII Europe . . . Europe? 170
VIII Nationalism, Nationality, Nativism, National Feeling, National Churches, National Religion 203
IX The State at the End of the Modern Age 242
X The End of the Modern Age 272
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