World History, 1815-1920

World History, 1815-1920

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World History, 1815-1920

World History, 1815-1920

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Excerpt

What has hitherto been called "universal history" or "world history" (Weltgeschichte) has been nothing but a conglomeration. People believed they were writing world history if they articulated together in a formal fashion the events of various continents. Writers have been satisfied with a mere juxtaposition of narratives, when in fact they ought to have shown the interdependence of occurrences taking place in widely separate localities.

The present work has an altogether different purpose. It will attempt to survey the history of the last hundred years from a really universal point of view. It will not aim at a schematic treatment of different continents as of equal importance. A world history which should devote the same attention to the chance happenings of a tribe of African negroes and to the development of the British Empire would be as unworthy of the name as a history of Italy in the nineteenth century which treated in equal detail the Duchy of Parma and the Kingdom of Sardinia. On the contrary, events shall be so selected as to bring into the foreground those which have universal significance; the criterion of importance shall be, not the local, but the universal importance. Europe and the European nations will indeed be given first place; but only those phenomena shall be set forth in detail which have exercised a wide influence beyond old Europe.

A brief exposition like the present is better adapted to this aim than a detailed narrative. If one has to refrain from discussing many interesting details it is all the easier to make clear the major lines of development and the connecting threads in the history of lands and peoples. The outline of the background will stand forth all the more clearly if the number of decorative figures in the foreground of the landscape is restricted to the most significant and essential ones.

The intelligent reader must console himself if a popular and conventional anecdote, or a name dear to him, is either briefly mentioned or passed over entirely. For he will say to himself: What . . .

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