History of the Twentieth Century, Concise Edition

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9780688100674: History of the Twentieth Century, Concise Edition

The concise edition of Martin Gilbert's History of the Twentieth Century is the culmination of his magisterial three-volume series, now elegantly woven together into a single text. This definitive narrative history documents significant events across the globe from 1900 through 1999.

Gilbert, author of the multivolume biography of Winston Churchill and other brilliant works of history, chronicles world events year by year, from the dawn of aviation to the flourishing technology age, taking us through World War I to the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt as president of the United States and Hitler as chancellor of Germany, and continuing on to document wars in South Africa, China, Ethiopia, Spain, Korea, Vietnam, and Bosnia, apartheid, the arms race, the moon landing, and the dawn of the computer age. He moves from the Hungarian revolution to Poland's solidarity movement to Ireland's Bloody Sunday and Israel's confrontations with the Palestinians; from Pol Pot's Cambodia to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As always, Gilbert intersperses the influence of art, literature, music, and religion, as well as highlighting both man-made and natural disasters, to further enliven this vivid work.

This is a rich, textured look at war, celebration, suffering, life, death, and renewal in the century gone by. The result is nothing less than extraordinary.

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About the Author:

Martin Gilbert is Winston Churchill's biographer and the author of eight acclaimed books on the Holocaust. He lives in London.

From Kirkus Reviews:

After writing more than 50 books, the eminent British historian, knighted in 1995, could be excused for feeling tired, and this first volume of his history of the 20th century shows it. One of the problems is that he has chosen to cover the period year by year, with the result that, like a butterfly, he alights briefly on one country before winging his way to the next. This tends to interrupt the flow of the narrative and the development of any themes. The only exception is where he describes the First World War, on which he has already written much, and where the inherent drama of the events imposes its own theme. Another problem lies in a lack of freshness in the writing: ``the ever-changing, ever-renewing drama on the world stage. . . . Everywhere mankind strove, and continues to strive for that better tomorrow.'' A further problem, most unexpected in a historian of Gilbert's accomplishment, is his use of sources. For example, although he describes it as a ``patriotic volume published annually,'' he quotes Cassell's Illustrated History of England at length and almost uncritically: ``Never was there a touch of nature that made the whole world more kin than the death of her Majesty the Queen of England.'' The First World War dominates the period, occupying a quarter of the book, but Gilbert gives little indication of why statesmen, with few exceptions (Churchill in England, Count Tisza in Austria-Hungary), were so blind to its potential consequences and why the peoples of Europe greeted the declaration of war with such enthusiasm. The good bits tend to suggest ``Trivial Pursuits'': In 1906, for example, Coca-Cola replaced the cocaine in its drink with caffeine, and Lindbergh's achievements finally convinced the American people that the airplane was safe. Churchill, whose biographer Gilbert is, would have called this volume a ``themeless pudding.'' (24 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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