The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century: The History of the World, 1901 to the Present

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 91%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (28) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $13.23   
  • Used (13) from $1.99   


Offering a dazzling overview of a turbulent century, The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century explores the dramatic events and underlying trends that made the twentieth century the most transformative in human history. Despite two devastating World Wars and the traumatic rise and fall of communism, wealth has increased significantly alongside a four-fold leap in population, women?s lives have been transformed, America has assumed undisputed political and cultural leadership, and China is now clearly awaiting its moment?J. M. Robert?s masterly overview, now updated to the present day, brings all of this and more into focus.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A book that deserves the widest reading. (The New York Times Book Review)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140276312
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/6/2004
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 928
  • Sales rank: 702,009
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 1.62 (d)

Meet the Author

J. M. Roberts (1928—2003) was warden of Merton College, Oxford, and one of our greatest contemporary historians.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

The Penguin History of the Twentieth CenturyList of Maps

Book 1: The World of 1901: Inheritances

1. By Way of Introduction

Our Century — The weight of the past — The different pasts of 1901 — The 'civilized' world — Culture and hegemony — 'One-half of the human species' — Ideas with a future — The scientific legacy — Movers and shakers

2. Structures
Human numbers — The world's wealth —Commerce — States and governments — Monarchy — Non-western government — Islamic empires — The Unites States of America — Latin America — The international order: power and great powers — Potential for change

3. The White Man's World
Empires and imperialism — The European empires — Idealism, interests and imagination — Settlers and natives — Imperialism and international relations: the 'Scramble for Africa' — Asian and Pacific empire — The imperial Unites States — The South African war

4. Shapes of Things to Come
Long-term demography — The divisions of humanity — A century of growing wealth — An industrializing world — New technology — Medical science — Communication — Mass communication — Changing mentalities — Acceleration and integration

Book 2: The Last Years of the European Ascendancy

5. European Exceptionalism

Europeans — Privilege and unrest — Socialism — Mass politics and nationalism — Constitutional governments — The German empire — Dynasticism — Religion in European life — Tensions and strains — Women in Europe

6. Europe as a System of Power
International order — Alliances and entanglements — The dissatisfied and dangerous — The appearance of security — New alignments — Deepening divisions — Young Turks — Russia's changing stance — Agadir and after — The Balkan wars

7. Challenges and Challengers in the Making
Change and perceptions of change in Asia — The new Japan — The end of the Chinese empire — The European empires in the Far East — Indo-China and Indonesia — India under the Raj — India enters the twentieth century — Egypt and the other end of Ottoman Africa — Ottoman empire east of Suez — New actors in the imperial drama

8. The Great War and the Beginning of the Twentieth-century Revolution
The last crisis — The end of an age — The Great War — The changing world — 1917 — Revolutionary war — Triumphs of nationality — The Ottoman collapse — The end of the first German war

Book 3: The End Of The Old World Order

9. A Revolutionary Peace

The basis of settlement — The League — The international economy — Economic disorder in Europe — Democracy and nationality — Revolution and counter-revolution — The new Germany — International communism — The new Russian empire — A new autocracy — A world divided

10. Years of Illusion
A last flourish of empire — Kemal Atatürk — Iran — New currents in Europe's politics — An authoritarian wave — New uncertainties — The optimistic years — Locarno and after — An eastern enigma — The United States

Book 4: World Revolution

11. An Emerging Global History

The world depression — Asia in the era of European civil war — The sequel to the Chinese revolution — Japan — The peace settlements and Asia — Chinese communism — Japanese dynamism — Civil war in China — The turning tide in India — The United States — Latin America

12. The Path to World War
The approach to the abyss — The Manchurian crisis — The China 'incident' — Indo-China and Indonesia between the wars — The German problem — Adolf Hitler — The German revolution — The crumbling balance of power — Ideology's contamination of international affairs — Towards a new German war: the Spanish Civil War — Hitler moves beyond the German lands

13. The Second World War
From Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa — German Europe — World war — The conflation of wars — Global conflict 1941-5 — The meaning of victory

Book Five: A New World

14. Appearance and Reality

Europe: amid the ruins — The framework of recovery — Reconstruction — Great power realities — Friction — The Truman doctrine and the Marshall Plan

15. The Cold War Unrolls
Roots of conflict — The Berlin crisis and NATO — New nations: the beginnings of decolonization — Indian independence — The last throes of the Chinese revolution — Imperial realities in 1945 — Indo-China — The running sore of the Ottoman Succession — Cold and hot war in Asia: Korea — Stalin's legacy — A divided Europe in a dividing world

16. East Asia Reshaped
After empire — The Indian sub-continent — The 'Third World' — Indonesia — The new China — China's re-emergence as a world power — The great steersman — Resurgent Japan

17. Africa and the Near East: Old and New Problems
Past history, new facts — Pre-independence Africa — The independence process in Black Africa — South Africa and Rhodesia — Disapppointment and disillusion — Arab and Jew — The Egyptian revolution and after — Algerian independence

Book 6: Shifting Foundations

18. Changing Minds

New ways of seeing the world — The management of the natural world — Power — Communications and information technology — The life sciences — Medical science — Space and the public imagination — Promise and misgiving — Facing new issues

19. New Economic and Social Worlds
In the long run — Europe's 'golden age' — Eastern Europe — World contrasts — Changing lifestyles — The oil crisis and after — Structural changes — Cultural consequences in a wealthier world — Globalization

20. Authority and Its New Challengers
A liberating century — Dissolving certainty — Religion in the later twentieth century — Government, democracy and nationalism — Challenges to the state — Women — The Pill — New waves — Women in the non-western world — Youth

Book 7. A Changing World Balance

21. The Cold War at Its Height

After Stalin — The second Berlin crisis — Latin America enters world politics — Cuba — The aftermath in Latin America — The changing USSR — The changing United States

22. Vietnam and After
The American entanglement — The changing Asian context — Oil and the Israel problem — The Iranian revolution — Islam in international affairs — An uneasy Latin America

23. The Reshaping of Europe
Seeds of unity — The division of Europe — National interests — Ostpolitik — The path to Helsinki — The British crisis

Book 8: The End Of An Era

24. A World in Evolution

The last years of Chairman Mao — New patterns — Japan: the new world power — The Indian democracy — Africa's enduring problems

25. Crumbling Certainties
Seeds of doubt — American misgivings — Disordered Islam — The last phase of Cold War — Changing eastern Europe — Polish revolution — The crumbling of the Soviet system — A new Germany

26. Post Cold War Realities
The Gulf War — Persisting dangers — The end of the Soviet Union — A new Russia — New European security problems — The end of Yugoslavia — Nationality and ethnicity in the new Europe — European integration — Qualified re-orientation: the United Kingdom — Changes in China — Tiananmen

27. Fin-de-siècle
Problems of peacekeeping — Europe after Maastricht — A common currency — Enlarging Europe — A troubled Far East — The Indian sub-continent — The United States at the end of the century — Pax Americana

28. Retrospect
Historical importance — The great upheavals — The mythology of human happiness — Mastery of the material world — The first world civilization — Today's political world — Conclusion

Appendix: The Exploration of Space

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)