The 20th Century: A Retrospective

Synopsis

Three grand themes characterized the twentieth century: crises on a scale that outstripped any in human history; revolutionary ideology and action that brought social and political transformations on a global scale; and new technologies breathtaking in their pace and innovation. It was a century of triumphant creativity and achievement, yet it witnessed violence and destruction of appalling, even cataclysmic, intensity. How can such contradictions be captured so that those who live in the twenty-first century may understand, and perhaps learn from, the varieties of human experience in the twenty-first century may understand, and perhaps learn from, the varieties of human experience in the twentieth century? The authors go back to 1880 to present a thematic history of the tumultuous 20th century organized in fifteen chapters that stress cultural, social, and material issues as well as major political developments. Carefully selected case studies bring to life in ordinary experience the themes of each chapter. Themes with a temporal orientation are featured in Part One on the "Early Century" (Modernization, Imperialism, Materialism, Socialist Revolution, and Fascism); and in Part Two on the "Later Century" (Decolonization, Peasant Movements, 1960s' Radicalism, and Islamic Fundamentalism). Part three takes up larger themes that encompass the whole century (Feminism, War and Peace, Science, Population, and Economic Inequality). Illustrations and suggestions for further reading, films, and videos, enhance this innovative text.

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