Winston Churchill warned publicly in 1901: “The wars of people will be more terrible than those of kings.”
The Nineteenth Century had been the greatest era of human progress in history: the near-worldwide abolition of slavery and serfdom, the advancement of liberal democracy in Europe and America, the invention of steamships and railways, the beginning of modern medicine. As the Twentieth Century opened, most of the world’s leaders felt sure that progress in the lives of ordinary people could only continue. And for many it did. Yet for others – perhaps for half the world – life descended into unimaginable wars, tyrannies, and mass murders. How that happened, how the Twentieth Century was at once both a fulfillment of moral and material progress for some and an absolute catastrophe for others, is the subject of this book. Martin Gilbert is a professor at Oxford and the world’s greatest student of modern political history. Throughout the book, he tries to select key events that drove progress and failure. Of course, in some sense the question he poses in unanswerable by any single book, but you come away with at least an idea what went right and what went wrong, and what we can do to make the Twenty First Century better. This is a gigantic work, three volumes totaling some 3,000 pages, but since each chapter covers exactly one year, it is easy to choose the parts that interest you the most.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: A History of the Twentieth Century