Choice Reviews

"Almost five million" Jews died in the Holocaust (p. 15); or was it "at least five million" (p. 123); or perhaps "five or six million" (p. 127)? These are three of many mistakes and/or inconsistencies in this book. Lukacs's short history covers a short century: 1914-89 and the apogee of European competition, the arrival of the US, and the failure of the Soviet Union. That this period is also the "American century" is undeniable, with Lukacs (emer., Chestnut Hill College) spending much of his effort explaining the rise and dominance of the US. The world beyond the West receives primary focus only in one chapter at the end of the book, in which the US still figures prominently. Within this quick analysis, the author still manages to edit out two major wars in 19th-century Latin America ("There were none," p. 202). While Lukacs ably interrogates the differences between patriotism and nationalism and the latter's endurance, his defense of a largely Western discussion is simply that the West's impact was more profound. High-end scholarship this work is not. Summing Up: Not recommended. Not Recommended. J. L. Meriwether Roger Williams University Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Library Journal Reviews

Historian Lukacs (Five Days in London) defines the "historical twentieth century" as the years between the beginning of World War I in 1914 and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. A "transitional" century, it marked the end of the modern (or European) age. While Europe remained the center of world history, according to Lukacs, it was also, he continues, a decidedly American century with the United States winning both world wars and the Cold War and profoundly influencing global events. Although purposefully focusing on Europe and the States—and Soviet roles there—Lukacs does cover major events and changes in the rest of the world. He also analyzes the effect of key figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin (whose historical reputation he takes some issue with), but most of all he discusses Adolf Hitler. The themes Lukacs addresses include nationalism, the advance of democracy and popular sovereignty, the demise of liberalism, and the impact of technology. VERDICT Neither in-depth nor intended to be, this readable and thought-provoking book is one of the first short histories of the 20th century that is more than a list of dates and facts. Recommended for those interested in an overview or refresher of crucial events during these decades.—Leslie Lewis, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this slim, dense volume, historian Lukacs (History and the Human Condition) delivers an insightful overview of the "historical" 20th century, a span beginning in 1914 with WWI and ending in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In attempting to discuss 75 years of extremely eventful world history, Lukacs naturally picks and chooses the things he considers most important. He places a disproportionate focus on the United States and Europe and the events and aftermaths of the World Wars, while giving short shrift to Asia, Africa, and South America. Most events are discussed within one or more of a handful of frameworks (e.g., nationalism, colonialism, capitalism, etc.), resulting in an entertaining if idiosyncratic tour of what Lukacs refers to as "—an? the?—American century." His biases show throughout, especially when he refers to the "deplorable, dwarfish dictatorships in the so-called Third World" or "the unbroken reputation of America, an object of worldwide emulation." His take on the historical 20th century is one in which states become nations, wars are waged, and borders are redrawn. Lukacs has definitely bitten off more than he can chew, but if taken with a grain of salt, it's still a tasty morsel. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Inc. (Oct.)

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