A Short History of the Twentieth Centuryby John Lukacs
The historian John Lukacs offers a concise history of the twentieth century--its two world wars and cold war, its nations and leaders. The great themes woven through this spirited narrative are inseparable from the author's own intellectual preoccupations: the fading of liberalism, the rise of populism and nationalism, the achievements and dangers of technology
The historian John Lukacs offers a concise history of the twentieth century--its two world wars and cold war, its nations and leaders. The great themes woven through this spirited narrative are inseparable from the author's own intellectual preoccupations: the fading of liberalism, the rise of populism and nationalism, the achievements and dangers of technology, and the continuing democratization of the globe.
The historical twentieth century began with the First World War in 1914 and ended seventy-five years later with the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989. The short century saw the end of European dominance and the rise of American power and influence throughout the world. The twentieth century was an American century--perhaps the American century. Lukacs explores in detail the phenomenon of national socialism (national socialist parties, he reminds us, have outlived the century), Hitler's sole responsibility for the Second World War, and the crucial roles played by his determined opponents Churchill and Roosevelt. Between 1939 and 1942 Germany came closer to winning than many people suppose.
Lukacs casts a hard eye at the consequences of the Second World War--the often misunderstood Soviet-American cold war--and at the shifting social and political developments in the Far and Middle East and elsewhere. In an eloquent closing meditation on the passing of the twentieth century, he reflects on the advance of democracy throughout the world and the limitations of human knowledge.
Historian Lukacs (Five Days in London) defines the "historical twentieth century" as the years between the beginning of World War I in 1914 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. A "transitional" century, it marked the end of the modern (or European) age. While Europe remained the center of world history, according to Lukacs, it was also, he continues, a decidedly American century with the United States winning both world wars and the Cold War and profoundly influencing global events. Although purposefully focusing on Europe and the States—and Soviet roles there—Lukacs does cover major events and changes in the rest of the world. He also analyzes the effect of key figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin (whose historical reputation he takes some issue with), but most of all he discusses Adolf Hitler. The themes Lukacs addresses include nationalism, the advance of democracy and popular sovereignty, the demise of liberalism, and the impact of technology. VERDICT Neither in-depth nor intended to be, this readable and thought-provoking book is one of the first short histories of the 20th century that is more than a list of dates and facts. Recommended for those interested in an overview or refresher of crucial events during these decades.—Leslie Lewis, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh
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Meet the Author
John Lukacs is a historian and the author of more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, The Future of History, and The Legacy of the Second World War.
With acting credits that span stage and screen, Gildart Jackson is most often recognized for his role as Gideon on Charmed. He has also been featured on Providence and General Hospital, and his theater roles include Trigorin in The Seagull, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, and Adrian in Private Eyes at the Old Globe.
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