This dramatic and comprehensive narrative history of the modern world covers all the great events, ideas and personalities of the six decades following the end of the First World War. Vivid and provocative, it tells of rulers and tyrants, democracy and oligarchy, politics and culture, good times and bad times, war and economics, alliances and betrayals, the great and not so great.
Modern times, says the author, began on May 29, 1919, when photographs of a solar eclipse confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe – Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Paul Johnson then describes the full impact of Freudianism, the establishment of the first Marxist state, the chaos of “Old Europe,” the Arcadian Twenties, and the new forces in China and Japan.
Here are Keynes, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, the ’29 Crash, the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal. And these are the wars that followed – the Sino-Japanese, the Abyssinian and Albanian conflicts and the Spanish Civil War, a prelude to the massive conflict of World War II. The incredible repression and violence of the totalitarian regimes demonstrated a new dimension to the solution of social and political problems, and in Germany, Russia and China we see this frightening aspect of the new “social engineering.”
Churchill, Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hirohito, Mussolini, Gandhi are the titans of this period. There are wartime tactics, strategy and diplomacy; the development of nuclear power and its use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the end of World War II and the harsh political realities of the uneasy peace that followed. The rise of the superpowers – Russia and the U.S.; the emergence of the Third World; the Cold War and the Marshall Plan; Tito, Nehru, De Gaulle, Eisenhower, Sukarno, Eden, Adenauer, Nasser, Ben Gurion and Castro are described.
The book covers the economic resurgence of Europe and Japan; Existentialism; Suez, Algeria; Israel; the New Africa of Kenyatta, Idi Amin and apartheid; the radicalizing of Latin America; the Kennedy years, Johnson and Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate.
Paul Johnson places in global perspective the prosperity of the Fifties, the fatal illusions of the Sixties, the disillusionment of the Seventies and the new realism of the Eighties. Incisive, stimulating and frequently controversial, Modern Times combines fact, anecdote, incident and portrait into a major full-scale analysis of how the modern age came into being and where it is heading.