International History of the Twentieth Century

International History of the Twentieth Century

International History of the Twentieth Century

International History of the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

This major new global history of the twentieth century is written by four prominent international historians for first-year undergraduate level and upward.Using their thematic and regional expertise, the authors have produced an authoritative yet accessible account of the history of international relations in the last century, covering events in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. They focus on the history of relations between states and on the broad ideological, economic and cultural forces that have influenced the evolution of international politics over the past one hundred years. Among the areas this book covers are:* the decline of European hegemony over the international order* the diffusion of power to the two superpowers* the rise of newly independent states in Asia and Africa* the course and consequences of the three major global conflicts of the twentieth century: the Great War, the Second World War and the Cold War.This an absolutely essential book in the study of twentieth-century history. Students will find themselves lacking without it.

Excerpt

In the twentieth century the history of international relations revealed four powerful trends. The first, and the one that received the greatest attention at the end of the century, was that the years between 1900 to 2000 witnessed a shrinking world in which the rapid growth of trade and finance created a truly global economy, while advances in communications and transport radically reduced the boundaries of time and space. Moreover, this trend towards globalization was reinforced by the fact that closer contacts and interdependence between political communities spurred on the formation of permanent inter-governmental institutions as well as a mushrooming of non-governmental organizations. Linked to this trend was a second major theme, which is that the twentieth century was a period defined by the quest for modernization and the perfection of modernity. Accordingly, more than any previous century, its course was shaped by ideological innovations and confrontation, ranging from the progressive utopianism of communism to the outwardly nostalgic visions of political Islam. Another major trend was that the century saw the steady diffusion of power away from Europe, which had dominated the world in 1900. At the level of Great Power politics, Europe was eclipsed by the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union, but this change to the international order also had another vital element, the proliferation of new nation-states in Asia and Africa, which acquired sovereignty as the European colonial empires broke up. These dramatic transformations in the world led to the fourth trend, the century's all-too-frequent tendency to descend into conflict. Fed by ideology, nationalism and advances in technology and institutional administration, no previous century can claim the violent death toll of the last one, in which lives were not just lost in war, but also in barbarous acts of organized state violence.

Our purpose is to offer students a one-volume, clear and wide-ranging account of the twentieth century and to explain why world politics followed this complex and often violent course. Such an exercise contains the danger that, in explaining longterm historical developments, the historian can, if not careful, erase the fundamental variable in all human affairs - contingency. There was no overriding reason why the last century had to be plagued by war, economic upheaval and political turmoil, for other routes to the future were open as the nineteenth century gave

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