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A Short History of the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs

By John Lukacs

The historian John Lukacs bargains a concise heritage of the 20 th century--its global wars and chilly warfare, its international locations and leaders. the good topics woven via this lively narrative are inseparable from the author's personal highbrow preoccupations: the fading of liberalism, the increase of populism and nationalism, the achievements and risks of know-how, and the continued democratization of the globe.

The ancient 20th century all started with the 1st international conflict in 1914 and ended seventy-five years later with the cave in of the Soviet Empire in 1989. the quick century observed the top of ecu dominance and the increase of yankee energy and impression in the course of the international. the 20 th century was once an American century--perhaps the American century. Lukacs explores intimately the phenomenon of nationwide socialism (national socialist events, he reminds us, have outlived the century), Hitler's sole accountability for the second one international battle, and the the most important roles performed via his made up our minds rivals Churchill and Roosevelt. among 1939 and 1942 Germany got here towards successful than many folks suppose.

Lukacs casts a troublesome eye on the outcomes of the second one global War--the usually misunderstood Soviet-American chilly war--and on the moving social and political advancements within the a long way and heart East and in different places. In an eloquent ultimate meditation at the passing of the 20th century, he displays at the strengthen of democracy through the international and the restrictions of human knowledge.

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And many of the matters I have left out contain, explicitly or implicitly, the meanings of certain events. Of those, there are a great many kinds, on a great many levels. This is not an encyclopedic book. Within my self-Â�imposed limitations, all I can do is try. Consider the startling condition that in August 1914, so many Â�intelligent statesmen and military and poÂ�litÂ�iÂ�cal experts thought and said that the impending conÂ�flict was a large “thunderstorm” (this word appears often in their statements).

This is at least one reason why, in this short hisÂ�tory of the twentieth century, I am compelled to devote a page or two to the histories of Germany and Austria after the First World War, including the consequences of their military defeat in 1918. The Germans, by and large, are not an excitable people, not revolutionary in temperament, not likely to accept disorder. But the phrase “by and large,” while explaining much, is also an imperfect generalization. The shock of 1918, for the Germans, cut deep and lasted long.

The reason for this is my conviction that hisÂ�tory consists of words, even more than of “facts,” because “facts” are inseparable from their statements, and these amount to more than the wrapping of facts; that the use and the choice of evÂ�ery word is not only a stylistic but a moral decision for a historian (as it is for evÂ�ery human being speaking). But of course the above summary leaves a lot of things out. And many of the matters I have left out contain, explicitly or implicitly, the meanings of certain events.

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