Challenge to Civilisation. A History of the 20th Century: 1952-1999

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9780002158695: Challenge to Civilisation. A History of the 20th Century: 1952-1999

From Britain’s ‘greatest living factual historian’ (Paul Johnson, Evening Standard), the third and final volume of his magisterial global history of the twentieth century.

Martin Gilbert is Britain’s leading popular historian. His three-volume History of the Twentieth Century is a complete global narrative history of our century. He is the undisputed master of narrative history with an extraordinary ability to muster detailed facts into rich and compelling prose. Volume II ended in 1951, as the world recovered from the devastation of World War II and the nuclear threat increased. This, his third and final volume, takes us up to the present day, weaving a rich historical narrative of the multifarious and contradictory events of the last fifty years, which ranges across the bloody events of many wars (from Korea to Bosnia), the post-war resurrection of Europe and the United Nations, the Arms Race, the shooting of JFK, the advent of computerisation, Man’s arrival on the moon, Aids and heart transplants, Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is history which makes sense of the most destructive yet most creative century humanity has ever experienced.

FROM THE REVIEWS FOR THE EARLIER VOLUMES: ‘Martin Gilbert is a phenomenon who arouses envy among less productive professional historians... This is fascinating. I congratulate Gilbert on his good work .’ PAUL JOHNSON, Sunday Times. ‘Gilbert is one of Britain’s most eminent historians... His knowledge and scholarship make him in many ways ideally suited to write a history of our century and great insights emerge.’ JOHN RAMSDEN, Financial Times. ‘There can be few other contemporary historians who would be capable of such a work calling for so much knowledge and so resolute a control of a flood of disparate material.’ PHILIP ZIEGLER, Literary Review

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Review:

As the years go by, the history of the 20th century will doubtless be written and rewritten time and again. By nature, the interpretation of history is mutable and can never be considered truly definitive. There are key events recognised by all but new evidence emerges, paradigms shift and perspectives change as events recede from living memory. However, you would have to search long and hard to find a historian with superior credentials for attempting such a comprehensive task as chronicling the 20th century: Martin Gilbert's body of work includes, amongst a host of notable offerings, such classics as The Holocaust and In Search of Churchill, and this latest offering only serves to enhance his reputation. Each chapter deals with a single year; for this, the third volume, which covers 1952-1999, that equates to an average of just less than 20 pages for each year, which is not a great deal when you consider the sheer volume of events there are to recount. But one of Martin Gilbert's great skills is how much he is able convey in this relatively compressed form, picking out the vital threads, from humanity's darkest moments to its most inspiring achievements with much in between and skilfully weaving them together into a coherent and highly readable narrative. The book is made complete with an impressive array of black and white photos, an extensive selection of explanatory maps, comprehensive bibliography and detailed index. Altogether, this is another outstanding contribution from one of the most respected historians of our day and looks likely to stand the test of time itself. -- Alisdair Bowles

About the Author:

Martin Gilbert was born in London in 1936 and educated at Highgate School and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1962, he became research assistant to Randolph Churchill and, after Randolph’s death, succeeded him as biographer of Sir Winston Churchill.

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