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A Short History of the Twentieth Century Hardcover – June 15, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1566636872 ISBN-10: 1566636876
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Another outstanding work by Australia's most eminent historian.... It is a great book. (John Hayman Henry Thornton)

Blainey's style is...the kind that George Orwell said was his ideal: 'transparent as a windowpane.' (John Derbyshire Claremont Review of Books)

Blainey has lived through wars and seen their fruits–invention as well as destruction. [His book] holds good and evil in balance. (Morag Fraser The Age)

Blainey's ability to weave diverse elements together [makes] A Short History of the 20th Century so inviting. (California Bookwatch)

This newest tome is a good read. Baliney writes for the general-interest reader, curious about our world. But amateur history buffs won't be disappointed. (Dawn House Salt Lake Tribune)

Packing 100 years of world events and personalities into one book is a monumental task. Geoffrey Blainey does it. (Oklahoman)

A breakneck tour of a very busy century. (Globe and Mail)

Writing with great sophistication and grace, Blainey weaves together the momentous events of the 20th century. (The Christian Century)

Blaine covers this all in 27 succinct chapters...To present an engaging, illuminating, terse history of the 20th century as Blainey has done is a considerable accomplishment. Highly recommended. (R. C. Cottrell CHOICE)

With great sophistication and grace, Blainey weaves together the momentous events of the 20th century. (The Christian Century)

His descriptive narratives are effective in helping readers to visualize certain periods of the century. (Journal of World History)

About the Author

Packing 100 years of world events and personalities into one book is a monumental task. Geoffrey Blainey does it.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (June 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566636876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566636872
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Learning to see yourself and your home from other perspectives is an important and valuable part of one's education. When I was a nineteen, I was fortunate to live in Queensland, Australia for two years. It was eye opening to hear what Australians thought about America. Some of it was completely off the wall, but much of it was interesting and valuable to me because I was able to see for the first time how America and her actions affected the world outside our borders.

This is a very valuable book and quite an interesting read. The author is a respected historian from Australia and he provides a most interesting balance in talking about the many world events of the 20th century. It is also valuable because the past century is just over and represents such huge changes in human history that it makes for interesting and even necessary study. Obviously, in trying to discuss a century of world history in just over three hundred pages, things have to be told in such a concise way that any reader will wish this or that point had been fleshed out more or given a bit more context. However, I think the author has done a terrific job.

While the world wars are there, as are the political revolutions, and the dissolution of the European colonial empires, the richest focus in the book is the way the author shows how the century began with a world based on agriculture and animal labor, changed to mechanized travel and vast industrial empires, and how the third world is now providing a level of industrial competition to Europe and America that neither could have expected even fifty years ago.

This is a book that will benefit anyone who reads it and I hope many do.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By olihist on July 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Writing world history (let alone any history) remains a difficult endeavour that often results in more or less "____-centric" accounts. Add to this the controversies surrounding the twentieth century, and it is no small wonder, then, that acclaimed Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey has attempted to write "A Short History of the Twentieth Century." At once a highly readable yet comprehensive narrative, Blainey fills his history with fascinating details, demonstrating his keen eye for the anecdote. His concise writing, although often assumptive, offers a wide coverage of issues that often overlooked in other general histories. Social and cultural issues (e.g. raising of children, effects of television, etc.) are examined alongside more conventional analyses of democracy and globalization. Blainey's thematic emphasis on war and peace works quite well (the twentieth century was a violent century), and his "seesaw" view of ideas, although uncomfortable for discerning readers, more or less befits the rapidly shifting changes. His conclusion with Islam and the effects of 9-11 seems a bit journalistic at first, but make sense if one considers a more circular view of the past (as opposed to linear/progressive).

For the most part, Blainey has little time for theory in this work, but to be fair, there generally is less room for this in general histories than in more detailed monographs and essays. Hence the bibliography, which perhaps could have been more extensive, at least topically, in this work. A more thorough reference section would have been especially helpful for students interested in a particular topic covered by Blainey.

In spite of its shortcomings, however, Blainey's "A Short History of the Twentieth Century" remains a highly readable introduction to a confusing, turbulent, and controversial century. Student and general readers alike will undoubtedly find this work both informative and entertaining.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jose Ernesto Passos on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Professor Blainey has done a very good work in presenting the XXth century in a way that can give an idea of how the world was at the time of the key events in history. Example, describing the similarity between workers life style in Europe, Asia and Africa in the XIXth century.

Blainey provides a description of the typical envinronment at the time. He also tries to explain in simple terms, the motivation behind the actions that happened, what were the political forces in action, how they acted and thought.

It is a difficult task to accomplish, keeping the text simple and truthful, at the same time providing different perspectives about the times and facts. The book is nice to read and is an excellent introduction on the history of the XXth century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Critchell on December 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a must read for every American especially the kids that have gone through our present school system where they get nothing but what the progressives want them to learn. This book gives them the other side of our history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating, easy to digest, well worth the read. Especially if you're like me and never paid attention in high school history.
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Format: Paperback
The book lacks one of the essential ingredients of a satisfying history, the penetrative grasp of cause and effect. Mr Blainey deals in the myopic rather than in long term causes, but, I should add, this is not necessarily a fault: he says himself in the preface that, in the kind of narrative history he set out to write, the question of why a particular event occurred can be allocated only a few sentences. Much of the causation, he says, has to be inferred from the story itself. Nevertheless, what is missing is any sort of hint at the great themes that were profoundly to shape the course of the twentieth century, what one might call, a theory of the twentieth century. Any theory is, of course, bound to be contrivance--in some respects at least--but theme and theory always make the difference between interesting and uninteresting history, and it is well known that the more opinionated the work, the more entertaining it is likely to be. For a 500-page study of the most documented 100-year period in human history, the result could never seriously have been intended as an archival or chronicler's masterpiece; it surely was intended to be a popular work, and that means it could have been more forthcoming with a certain historical wisdom. The extent to which it succeeds in being popular, interesting and entertaining is therefore limited by this lack of large-scale integrative management. For all that, as an account of some of the things that happened during the years in its range, the book serves pretty well. Blainey demonstrates sound judgment in his selection of events to cover. It even has the strokes of a sapid literary style ("Churchill was born in 1874 with a silver spoon in his mouth and some iron in his soul...with a trace of the bulldog in his jaw and...a touch of ginger in his hair....").Read more ›
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