The Twentieth Century: The History of the World, 1901 to 2000

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Overview

From J. M. Roberts, one of our greatest historians, comes an engrossing one-volume history of the extraordinary century we've just lived through. Going beyond a traditional chronological narrative of events, Roberts identifies the major long—term changes that underlie them, pointing in particular to worldwide increases in life expectancy; major advances in science and technology; the radical reconfiguration of the global economy; the disappearance of empires; the decline of white hegemony; and the changing role of women.

"One of the most important stories of mankind—a work of great breadth, insight and historical empathy."—Paul Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review (front—page review)

"The most comprehensive, objective ...yet accessible history of the century yet published in English."—The Economist
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Joining the many eminent historians who have tried to summarize the 20th century, Roberts (A History of Europe, etc.) takes as his framework the compelling argument that "in many ways, the world... was centered on Europe when the twentieth century began" and "much of that century's story is of how and why that ceased to be true before it ended." It's a good argument, and it distinguishes Roberts's history from those of Martin Gilbert (A History of the Twentieth Century, 1952-1999, Forecasts, Oct. 25), who takes a strict chronological approach, and Clive Ponting (The Twentieth Century: A World History, Forecasts, Feb. 1), who takes a more multithemed tack. With broad strokes, Roberts traces the political and economic events that led to the demise of Europe's empires and the continent's descent into two world wars, while also tracking the vicissitudes of democracy and communism throughout the world during the Cold War. He scrutinizes the development of the U.S.S.R. and the Asian powers, China and Japan in particular, but the U.S. generally gets short shrift, even during the second half of the century. Too frequently, Roberts appears frustrated by being forced to generalize, and he unnecessarily apologizes for having to do so (notably in his discussions of fascism and modernism). The greatest casualty of the book's scope is character. This is a book of trends, not people. The century's geopolitical rainmakers--FDR, Hitler, Mao, etc.--are present, but they exist on an epic rather than a personal scale. Fortunately, at any level of detail, the 20th century is a fascinating saga, and Roberts brings wit as well as a gift for summary to the task. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With this leviathan examination of the world during the 20th century, Roberts, a former Warden of Merton College at Oxford University, continues his quest to write definitive, one-volume treatments of great chunks of history. Intended for the "intelligent layman and laywoman," this book is reminiscent of Will and Ariel Durant's classic The Story of Civilization. But it is not certain that even intelligent lay readers will want to go through all 800+ pages. To be fair, the 20th century is indeeed complex, and giving each potential topic the attention it deserves would be impossible. And, although Roberts gives issues such as the cause of the Holocaust a facile treatment, his effort and his writing are magnificent. Perhaps the best facet of this book is its treatment of the world beyond Europe and North America. Roberts's philosophical and thought-provoking asides also enhance the book, which would make a great college text. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.--Randall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll., Waverly, IA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
David Shi
...Roberts's new book is the best one-volume history of the world during the 20th century so far. It captures the bewildering energy and pathos of a century that has been horrific, innovative, and inspiring. By describing the pivotal events and personalities that have shaped our present, The Twentieth Century helps prepare us for the new century ahead.
The Christian Science Monitor
Paul Kennedy
...remarkably astute and balanced...All told, this is a book that deserves the widest reading because it is about one of the most important historical stories of all -- namely, what happened in the most dynamic and recent century of humankind's journey through time.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140296563
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/1/2000
  • Pages: 928
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 1.65 (d)

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Chapter One


By Way of Introduction


OUR CENTURY


Until quite recent times, peoples in different parts of the world looked at, thought about and organized the past in many different ways, and many (Muslims, for example) still do. Some have broken it up into the comings and goings of dynasties; others have thought of it in astronomical periods; yet others have picked great events, imaginary or historical, as markers. All such systems are arbitrary, as is the one more widely adopted than any other, that based on the Christian calendar and what came to be accepted as the date of birth of Christ. Since the Middle Ages, the two big divisions that that provides, BC and AD, have then been further subdivided into centuries of 100 years (and, by some, relabelled BCE and CE). This is like measuring an endless piece of string with a ruler — you pick a point for your own reasons and start there, measuring it off in metres or any other units you like. But the string is not naturally divided into metres or anything else. A metre is just a distance between two chosen points on a continuing line, and so, in relation to time, is a century. We should not be too impressed by a unit which happens to run from a year whose number ends in 01 to one which has a number ending in 00 for it is only a convenience. We give the centuries so defined special names according to where they come in relation to the supposed date of the birth of Christ and speak of the `fifth century BC', for example or of the `twelfth century AD'. The twentieth century is properly the name for 100 yearswhich began on 1 January 1901 and will end when 31 December 2000 gives way to New Year's Day 2001.

    We sometimes talk of `centuries' more loosely, to stress that many things that happened between a couple of days 100 years apart, or others close to them, seem to hang together comprehensibly and to give a special character to those years, as opposed to those which come before or after them, whether or not they exactly amount to 100 years of time. We have got used to speaking of some centuries in a kind of historical shorthand, as if they had identifying traits or qualities of their own. We even use them adjectivally, talking about (for instance) `the eighteenth-century mind' or `nineteenth-century morality'. This is to denote those eras which, for certain purposes and in some perspectives, may be described as having a special character. Such shorthand always implies many qualifications, but it is often useful in a pedagogic or expository way; I recall introducing undergraduates to a period of European and general history demarcated in the Oxford syllabus as 1715-1789 by getting them to write essays on the question `When did the eighteenth century begin?' Professional historians sometimes make such qualifications explicit and specify `long' and `short' centuries (many books on the twentieth century begin not with 1901 but with 1914) in order to get away from the arbitrariness they associate with the formal dating, but this too is only a way of driving home the point that within certain spans of time events appear to have a unity and coherence which makes them good topics for study.

    Even if we welcome the notion of a `century', though, and use it rather than a vaguer word like `age' or `era' as an indication of what we are going to talk about, we must be careful. All such language is no more than a very rough and general way of speaking. No pair of dates, however carefully chosen, cuts off any part of history magically and absolutely from what came before it and what came after. Well after 1901 there were millions of people alive who for years, even decades, lived much as their grandparents had done well before that year; today, there are few in that position, even if we all live in ways and among problems and potentials that will not vanish at midnight on 31 December 2000 AD. It is partly for this reason that I have thought it best to treat the history of the twentieth century in a wholly conventional and formal way, as the story of what happened between 31 December 1900 and a date as near to 100 years later as I could manage before sending the typescript to the publisher.

    That Procrustean decision once taken, one can still ask, nonetheless, whether there is something special, something characteristic, which would justify us in finding the twentieth century remarkable and worth examination for its own sake. To answer that question is one purpose of this book. It is not made easier by the banal fact that we have all, writer and readers alike, lived in it and, unless we are still in infancy, we can all remember in some degree our direct experience of it. This will not help us to achieve agreement about what it was and is. Indeed, shared experience is a constant temptation to misunderstanding. Direct experience shapes our valuation and judgement of what matters in it in very different ways. History (what is important about the past) varies according to the position from which you view it. In looking at the record, some will seek guidance in something that seems best to crystallize a general trend, some will scrutinize the immense variety of particulars for something that best typifies or symbolizes that very abundance. Some will look at the past in search of clues for understanding their own present problems and preoccupations.

    Nothing in the past can be completely described or recorded; if we could do that we should relive history. There has to be selection; whether or not any particular selection is acceptable, it may enable others to select more defensibly. What must never be lost to sight is the fact that all pasts were, once upon a time, presents; all outcomes were, once upon a time, people's futures. History is made by people confronting predicaments, and those people were always individuals, always liable to escape from the big generalizations that have to be part of any general history. We are liable to judge them wrongly unless we try to keep in mind the limits to their own perception of what those predicaments were, and what they could and could not know at any given moment. Hindsight is always tempting us to forget this.

    Hindsight, too, poses a special difficulty for what historians call contemporary history (itself not always a very helpful or immediately meaningful term; for a long time members of the French historical profession were quite content to define it as what had happened since the French Revolution of 1789 — which they saw as the culmination, of course, of `modern' history). The history of yesterday, or of the day before yesterday, is the hardest history of all to get right because we know too much about it. Some think we know all about it, or at least about what matters most in it; once more, we come back to the fact that we have all experienced some of it. Yet the very impressiveness of some of the events we have witnessed threatens historical judgement. Canonical accounts of great events are quickly and all too easily established. The vividness of remembered experience imposes blinkers and mufflers, cutting out signals we need to see and hear, all the more dangerously because it so often does so without our being aware of it. It is not surprising that Americans who inherited a long tradition of isolation wanted to turn their backs on Europe after (they believed) coming to her help to win the Great War, or that Britons who lived through the great events of 1940 and the (at first dark and then victorious) years that followed found it hard later to recognize that their country was in the 1950s only a second-rank power. It is understandable that those who have battled valiantly for very fundamental political rights for women should often overlook the enormous extension in women's practical freedoms brought about more silently by technology and chemistry. But the historian has to try to do better than record his personal impressions. Trying to achieve a reliable impression of what men and women inherited from the past as this century began, and could not shake off, is a possible starting-point.


THE WEIGHT OF THE PAST


It is not hard to imagine life in 1901 if we are thinking of `developed' countries (an expression that had not then been invented, incidentally). Many of us have talked to people who could easily recall it; there even are, after all, people still alive who were born before that year. This is the first century, too, during the whole of which it has been possible to make pictorial records other than with pencil or brush. We are able to look at the photographs that survive from its earliest years, and even at some flickering and jerky `moving pictures' of them. Much of the language and idiom of the turn of the century is still perfectly comprehensible to us; we still read books written then with pleasure and profit and, for the most part, understanding. For these and many more reasons, those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the developed world are tempted to believe we know what the world was like as this century began. We may even think that we understand those who lived then, wrote its books and managed its affairs as we do not understand any earlier generation.

    This is an illusion. There are no better grounds to believe that we easily understand the men and women of that age than there arc to believe that we understand those who lived in the age of Leonardo da Vinci. We can only begin to approach understanding by recognizing how much they were not like us. Any history of the twentieth century must begin in a world deeply unlike our own. At least in the most `western', developed societies, we are less like the men and women of 1901, and further distanced in our thinking and behaviour from them than, say, were they from their forebears of a century earlier. The African peasant or Australian aborigine of today may not be quite so remote from the experiences and thinking of their grandparents and great-grandparents, but people who live in the richer, developed or developing countries of the world — and that now means most human beings — perceive, think and feel in ways very different from those in which our own ancestors perceived, thought and felt their world as this century began. My father had only added English to his native Welsh a few years before this century began, when the first powered flight by a man in a `heavier-than-air' machine had not yet been made; less than seventy years later, he could look at a television set and watch men bobbing about on the surface of the moon.

    Not that there is any need to search the heavens for markers of change. In the cities and towns of those developed countries the photographic evidence is there to tell us that the world looked very different then as soon as one stepped outside one's front door. Nor was it only visually remote from our experience. A New Yorker, Londoner, Berliner or Parisian of 1901 would have awoken each morning to a world which smelt of horses rather than motor-cars, in which side-streets were still full of stable-yards, in which more straw than paper littered the streets (no plastic did, of course), in which milk, coal, beer and a hundred and one other necessities were delivered by horse-drawn carts and drays, and in which many more of his contemporaries would know how to ride or manage a horse than to drive a car. Outside those `up-to-date' cities stretched a world that was unlike our own in much more striking ways, too, impossible to summarize in a phrase. Most of those who lived in it were shorter and slighter than their descendants today. They also went without formal schooling and expected much less of life than we do today. Outside a few countries, few men and women expected long lives, or that their lives would be very different from those of their grandparents. Nowhere was more than elementary medication available to treat disease; rest, nourishing food and good nursing were the main advantages available to the rich when they were ill. Aspirin had only been invented a couple of years before and, short of complete anaesthesia or morphine, pain had to be endured. Social classes could be identified at sight by the clothes they wore: drab, worn, ill-fitting for the mass, elaborate, carefully crafted and maintained for even the modestly well-off. One could go on listing such apparent differences and, of course, to do so would hardly touch many more significant ways in which the world of 1901 is now hard even to imagine, let alone understand.

    The eighteenth-century idea of an ancien régime may be helpful. When the phrase was first coined it could be translated roughly as `the old way of running things', or `the former way of carrying on'. It has always since carried an implicit comparison: what has happened in the past is being contrasted with what has happened since. One only talks about the ancien régime when it is no more. Societies cannot be aware of having an ancien régime until something has actually changed. Then, people will have a fair chance of understanding what you mean because an ancien régime signifies a time when people behaved and thought differently from the way they behaved and thought in later times. In that sense, there was an ancien régime in 1901 and, indeed, there was more than one. People behaved and thought then in ways different from ourselves — not wholly differently, perhaps, but very differently. Most states in the world of 1901, for example, were governed by monarchs — emperors, kings and queens, princes, khans, shahs, sultans, rajahs and many more titles singled them out. That was the way things were when Queen Victoria, the oldest head of state in the world, died only a few days after the twentieth century began, and at her funeral two emperors and three other sovereigns, nine crown princes and heirs apparent, and forty princes and grand-dukes walked behind her coffin in respect. It is unlikely (though historians should never predict) that any future royal funerals will ever replicate such a display of the prevailing mythology about the way the world was run.

    The death of the old queen was for many of her subjects something of a psychological shock. Something, it was remarked, passed with her even if to some (mainly in high society) a change in the social atmosphere of the English court and aristocracy would have been all that was noticeable. In retrospect, though, Victoria's funeral came to seem a symbol of much more, perhaps the end of an era in the history of her country. The monarchs who attended her funeral went home afterwards to continue to reign; one of them, her grandson, the emperor of Germany, in whose arms she had lain on her deathbed, would still be on his throne in 1918. In spite of the sensation of a great change, nothing actually changed in 1901 which had any significant effect on the lives of those who had been her subjects. That the old queen was no longer on the throne did not alter the way they went about their work, thought about their families, worshipped and prayed, sought pleasure and suffered, nor did it improve or worsen their real incomes and standards of living. Although all those things were to change very radically in due course and sometimes quite rapidly, it was only in a somewhat superficial and misleading way that it could it be said that a British ancien régime came to an end with Victoria, far less that an age ended.

    Queen Victoria was not the only head of state to die soon after this century began. Nine months later, the president of the United States of America was murdered. That did not mean any fundamental change either. Yet something of an immediately recognizable difference was made to his country's history by his removal, because his constitutional role was so different from that of the old queen. Under the terms of the American Constitution, McKinley was at once succeeded in office by his vice-president, Theodore Roosevelt — `that damned cowboy' as one enraged politician called him. Roosevelt was a man who liked to stir things up, and he used the powers of the presidency more vigorously to promote certain policies he favoured than his predecessor had done. That made a difference to American politics and policy, as the accession of Edward VII did not to those of the United Kingdom. Even so, Roosevelt's arrival in the White House was in no sense revolutionary, even if it somewhat changed the tone of American political life. Americans went on being American, just as Queen Victoria's subjects — who included not only Britons, but Indians, Fijians, Chinese, Matabele, Ashanti, Hottentots and many, many others — did not change their deeply rooted customs and went on being what they were. To the lives of all such people much greater change would come in due course from great wars, migrations, and such technological innovations as the `horseless carriages' and `automobiles' of which early examples were beginning to trundle about the streets of a few cities even in Asia and Africa in 1901.

    Even if changes in personnel make important differences to history in some circumstances and at some historical junctures, they only rarely make a difference so complete that one can say that some worlds are now no more, that they have truly passed into history as an ancien régime. The death of Adolf Hitler himself when it came at last was only incidental to the much greater historical transformation implied in the smashing of German military power. Yet changes truly revolutionary in their scope have occurred all round the world throughout the twentieth century. They are the main subject matter of its history. They are what have made this century one like no other century in the entire history of mankind, whether they are easily pinned down to a specific moment or — like most of the most important — prolonged over years or decades. Their gradual, incremental onset often makes them hard to recognize even in retrospect. To try to understand how almost unimaginably different was the world of 1901 from that of our own day is the first step towards measuring those transformations.


THE DIFFERENT PASTS OF 1901


One of the most important ways in which the world was different in 1901 was in the ways its societies saw the past, and the ways that shaped their perception of their present. Historians face an infinite number of past worlds. Few experiences except the most elemental are shared by all men and women in all parts of the world, even if there are more shared today than in 1901 (thanks to some of the biggest changes the century has brought about). Societies still have highly differentiated pasts, but they have shared shaping experiences to a greater degree in this century than ever in earlier times. The ancien régime of 1901 which has now disappeared was not the same thing in Europe as in the United States, nor was that of the Chinese the same as that of the peoples of India. It would only be a mild exaggeration to say that all those and many other societies in 1901 had in common as going concerns was that they were doomed to disappear within the next 100 years. The simplicities of rural North America, the still untouched traditional ways of Tibet, the life of the Berlin tenement-dweller — all these, and many more, have vanished beyond recall, except by historians and nostalgic novelists. No earlier century has ever brought about such complete, often swift and accelerating, change to humanity as has this one, nor change that has left it sharing so much common experience.

    Just as today, what most people thought in 1901 was largely shaped by what they took for granted. That it was so unlike what we now take for granted may now be seen an obvious enough point, but perhaps it is still worth a moment's further consideration. Of the hundreds of millions of human beings that lived in Asia when the century began, for example, few except European expatriates ever thought about the continent where they lived as `Asia'. That there was an entity corresponding to the word `Asia' was a European idea, adopted only by a minority of Asians, not yet an idea most of them would have grasped. The slogan `Asia for the Asians' had only just been coined by the Japanese in the 1890s; within `Asia', that word was hardly known outside Japan, which had adopted European geographical nomenclature along with much else. Of the inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent few ever thought of India as a whole, either, or as a geographical reality, let alone a social or political one; only a tiny minority of Indians had the idea that India might one day become the name of a country. Similarly, it was unlikely that many native-born Africans except those who were white would have had any notion that there existed an entity called `Africa', the name given to the whole continent first by Europeans (who, of course, thereby also created the category `African'). Europeans and North Americans, on the other hand, tended to be much more aware of the continents in which they lived. They had named them, too, after all. Nationhood or nationality was another European idea, even if there were non-European peoples — Han Chinese or Japanese for example — with strongly developed senses of their own ethnic and cultural distinction.

    Given such contrasts, as well as others in the distribution of power and wealth, in habit and behaviour, our closeness in time to the men and women of 1901 can too easily deceive us; they took for granted much that we do not and could not conceive much that is commonplace to us. They felt the weight of pasts peculiar to them, and which are not ours, though parts of the landscape they laid out can still look familiar to us. They saw past time with the eyes of the nineteenth century in which they had been born (and they had experienced, of course, many different nineteenth centuries, according to where they lived).

    The only futures that shape people's lives are imaginary ones that can stir them to action. For the most part, it is the past, real or mythological, which does most to shape — sometimes overwhelmingly — a present. Our ancestors on 1 January 1901 were heirs to hundreds of vastly different inheritances, varying in their detail according to when and where they were born: the world on the first day of the twentieth century was, as it is now, a complication of hundreds of millions of individual contexts set by hundreds of millions of pasts. Some of the contexts thus formed were much more influential than others. It is not easy to grasp just what the world's peoples could in fact choose to assimilate or reject in the past history that confronted them.

    Once away from the microscopic level, which can never be studied in its entirety, where each man and woman confronts his or her own destiny, it is nonetheless possible to make a start at a high level of generalization by recognizing the distinct pasts which belong to a few large collectivities. These provide the peaks and great mountain ranges of the historical landscape. One can distinguish, for instance, a number of historical cultures and civilizations that made up the world of 1901. They were as diverse in their essence as in their superficial appearance. In the Kalahari desert or in New Guinea there lived Stone Age peoples still untouched by civilization at a moment when Europeans were planning railways to span Africa from Cape to Cairo and link Berlin and Baghdad, or dreaming of a future in which air travel (by hydrogen-filled `dirigibles' which were already beginning to appear in the skies of some countries) would be possible between the world's capital cities. Within the world historically shaped by Christianity, Russians were then just beginning to undergo the experience of industrialization that had come to western Europe from fifty to 100 years earlier, but were still following the pre-Christian Julian calendar which had been abandoned centuries earlier in western Europe. Buddhist Tibet was a country that only a handful of Europeans had yet even visited. Muslim Arabs from the Persian Gulf had only recently been forced to curtail a huge trade in slaves from east Africa; foot-binding was still normal for women in upper-class Chinese households. The Ottoman sultan, ruler of many peoples, Europeans among them, still maintained an official harem. Many more such oddities then existed which have long since ceased to be. They reflected age-old differentiation and global variety as this century began.

    Our own world, of course, is also a very varied and highly differentiated place, but in the next 100 years such exotic variety was to be much reduced, if only at the level of superficial appearances and material circumstance. Huge mental and moral differences remain between peoples, but nowadays we sometimes find them surprising, as our predecessors would not have done in 1901. Such differences can suddenly erupt to complicate and sometimes poison our affairs after superficial similarities have misled us. People accepted in 1901 more readily than we always do that a shared humanity should not be trusted very far as a guide to behaviour, and said so more frequently than we are brave enough to do.

    Whether or not intuition and experience seem to bear this out, it may at any rate be quickly agreed that as this century began the superficial differences between human societies around the world would at least have been even more obvious than they would be today. A traveller now punctuates his travel by sitting in identical airport `lounges', takes similar taxis on emerging from them to travel along roads marked, wherever he or she may be, by traffic-lights sending the same messages as elsewhere and policed by public officials ostensibly intended to enforce similar driving behaviour, and does so in order to reach `international hotels' aspiring to provide just what has been left behind in the last one. Fundamental and important differences in such trivial circumstances and even in the way people behaved were more apparent in daily life when this century began. Perhaps, too, they were more firmly anchored in identifiable public institutions than they are today; but this is harder to be sure about, and is perhaps better left for reflexion as the story unrolls. Different cultures and countries, we know, still differ profoundly about the way people should be treated; thoughts about the individual's proper relations with authority, social and economic behaviour in, say, Great Britain and Saudi Arabia, India and Australia, or France and Japan, can still clash even though more people in all countries now talk as if they believed in universal human rights than was the case in 1901.

    Nonetheless, the past weighs a little less obviously on most of the world than once it did. The inheritances that people drew upon in their thinking and behaviour in 1901 often expressed the weight of centuries of virtually unquestioned authority. This was obvious in the way religions could then still be thought of as major categorizations of humanity. Most human beings still lived in the rich, complicated settings of ancient faiths — the main ones were Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Christian and Islamic — and adhered to them in practice, though what they believed is harder to say. It seems likely, though, that most human beings then still believed in some sort of supernatural world, and often in a two-tier model of a present, material sphere and another in which dwelt a god or gods, exercising real power and uttering authoritative commands. Within acceptance of some such theistic framework, though, different zones of religious observance had long somewhat overlapped and run untidily in and out of one another. Though people within its sphere still often used the word, Christendom was not so clearly defined in 1901 as it had been five or six centuries earlier. Its divisions had grown sharper and more plentiful in the last two or three centuries, too. Even in 1799, a German writer had been able to say that Christendom was no longer the same as Europe: by 1901, the word indicated less a sphere of a particular faith than the world occupied by European stocks, who were assumed to be Christian. All round the world, too, Europeans had made converts to their historic religion (conversion rather than settlement had made South and Central America part of the Christian world), and even where they had not been very successful (as in India, or China), they had left many institutional and physical marks of Christianity in the form of churches, colleges, schools and hospitals. Europe itself, the Americas and the white settler lands of Australasia and South Africa, though, still thought of themselves as, above all, the heartlands of a Christian world. That notion would undergo radical change in the next 100 years, in which Christianity became predominantly a religion of non-European peoples.

    Of the two other great monotheistic religions, Judaism was the best defined. It was also the most widespread; its adherents could be found worldwide, though their numbers were not very great. In 1901 most of the world's Jews lived in the relatively small part of Europe made up by the Russian Pale (which included much of what is now Poland) and adjacent central and east Europe. Islam, the other faith of believers in the God of Abraham shared by Jews and Christians, was (as it remains) as far flung as either Judaism or Christianity and had the allegiance of hundreds of millions.

    Unlike Christendom, the world of Islam had not been defined by historic institutions like state or church: it was and is essentially what Muslims do and the way they live. They are united by a common attitude to God, this world and the next. Islam's footing in Europe had been dwindling in recent times; by 1901 Muslim minorities remained only in places that had been for two or three centuries parts of the Ottoman Turkish empire. They were few, too, in the Americas. The heartlands of Islam were the Arabic-speaking lands of the Near and Middle East. But from them the Faith had spread, at first by conquest, west into Africa and Mediterranean Europe, east and north into Central Asia, India and as far as China. Then, in the nineteenth century, large Muslim communities had grown up in Bengal, Indonesia and Malaysia, to which Islam had been carried by Arab merchants favoured by the current and winds of the Indian Ocean. The outcome was a world of great social variety and numerous splinter groups and sects. The classical Arabic of the Koran is taught to many peoples with very different native languages, and even in the Arab lands to some who only speak very colloquial and regional forms of Arabic. In China and India, Islam encountered the more ancient cultural zones of Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucian civilization. The last still dominated China at the beginning of this century and lay also at the roots of Japanese culture, though in both countries it lived beside Buddhism, a more transcendentally orientated body of belief and practice, but associating more easily with Confucianism or Hinduism than the monotheistic beliefs of Islam. Buddhism sprawled across two distinct cultural zones in south and south-east Asia, the sphere culturally dominated by the Hindu influences emanating from the Indian sub-continent, and the Sinic sphere of the Confucian heritage.

(Continues...)

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Table of Contents

List of Maps xiii
Foreword xv
Book 1 The World of 1901: Inheritances
1 By Way of Introduction 3
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 39
Human numbers
The world's wealth
Commerce
States and governments
Monarchy
Non-western government
Islamic empires
The United States of America
Latin America
The international order: power and great powers
Potential for change
3 The White Man's World 82
Empire 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 United States
The South African war
4 Shapes of Things to Come 111
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 141
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 175
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 207
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 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 238
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 271
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 304
A last flourish of empire
Kemal Ataturk
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 339
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 378
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 410
From Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa
German Europe
World war
The conflation of wars
Global conflict 1941-5
The meaning of victory
Book 5 A New World
14 Appearance and Reality 435
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 457
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 494
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 521
Past history, new facts
Pre-independence Africa
The independence process in Black Africa
South Africa and Rhodesia
Disappointment and disillusion
Arab and Jew
The Egyptian revolution and after
Algerian independence
Book 6 Shifting Foundations
18 Changing Minds 553
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 584
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 613
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 647
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 672
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 695
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 719
The last years of Chairman Mao
New patterns
Japan: the new world power
The Indian democracy
Africa's enduring problems
25 Crumbling Certainties 739
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 765
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-siecle 799
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 829
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 857
Index 861
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