A Short History of the Twentieth Century by John Lukacs

By John Lukacs

The historian John Lukacs deals a concise historical past of the 20 th century--its global wars and chilly warfare, its countries and leaders. the nice subject matters 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 hazards of expertise, and the continued democratization of the globe.

The old 20th century all started with the 1st global struggle 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 eu dominance and the increase of yankee energy and effect through the global. the 20th century used to be 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 by way of his decided rivals Churchill and Roosevelt. among 1939 and 1942 Germany got here toward profitable than many of us suppose.

Lukacs casts a difficult eye on the effects of the second one global War--the usually misunderstood Soviet-American chilly war--and on the transferring social and political advancements within the a ways and center East and in other places. In an eloquent final 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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Nationalism was replacing the older forms of paÂ�triÂ�otÂ�ism, and it proved to be an even stronÂ� “c ossacks! ” 53 ger and more lasting cement binding masses of people than their sentiments about class struggle. Its extreme representations and incarnations involved even more than a dislike of foreigners. It included a contemptuous hatred of men and women Â� within their own country whom such nationalists saw as being largely, even treasonably, non-Â�nationalistic. This was not an aristocratic or conservative phenomenon, but a populist one.

For a while, the postwar governments did little to control inÂ�flaÂ�tion. The classic case was Germany, where by 1923 the gradual inÂ�flaÂ� tion after 1918 had accelerated to fantastic proportions—someÂ� 44 a short history of the t wentieth century thing that the German people remembered and avoided after their much greater catastrophe in the Second World War and also generations later, even to the present day. Then, near the end of 1923 or soon afterward, the governments of Europe introduced new currencies, which were accepted with a meaÂ�sure of relief.

StaÂ� lin was not an internationalist. He had advanced upward in the Moscow hierarchy because of his direct and often brutal ability to get rid of his acÂ�tual or potential opponents within the party when needed. In 1924, he was elected party leader, the successor to Lenin, who had died that January. Within two years he was able to eliminate his main enemy, Leon Trotsky, forcing him to leave the Soviet Â�Union. The StaÂ�lin-Â�Trotsky duel was, and remains, telling. Trotsky was an international Communist and someÂ�thing of an intellectual; StaÂ�lin was not.

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