Martin Gilbert, author of the multivolume biography of Winston Churchill and other brilliant works of history, chronicles world events year by year, from the dawn of aviation to the flourishing technology age, taking us through World War I to the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt as president of the United States and Hider as chancellor of Germany. He continues on to document wars in South Africa, China, Ethiopia, Spain, Korea, Vietnam, and Bosnia, as well as apartheid, the arms race, the moon landing, and the beginnings of the computer age, while interspersing the influence of art, literature, music, and religion throughout this vivid work. A rich, textured look at war, celebration, suffering, life, death, and renewal in the century gone by, this volume is nothing less than extraordinary.
©2001 Martin Gilbert (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
I have always been a history buff, but this has opened my eye to a lot of 'hidden' history. I have not managed to listen to the whole book yet, but I currently live in Ukraine and have surprised some of my Ukrainian friends by knowing more of their history than they do. Also taking the history year by year puts things into proportion.
The book was interesting, there's no denying that. However, I thought it was quite odd what the author chose to include and exclude. The part about the Korean War was excellent and is often excluded in books of this nature but statistics for road deaths are included at least 10 times, despite having no relevance to the story. Idi Amin, Amelia Earhart, FDR's health, and just about anything happening in South America or Africa weren't included at all or were given less than two minutes. I loved the format of the story but wish it wasn't so Eurocentric and so focused on wars as opposed to important cultural moments, which got almost no attention past the 1920s. Additionally, I had hoped the author would spend more time on stories that weren't so well known so I could have listened for 30 hours and come away feeing like I learned something.
Getting a breakdown of events across the globe decade by decade gives the listener a unique perspective on major happenings (mostly catastrophes) of the century. After finishing this work, one can see how difficult it is for modern historians to sort through the sheer volume of information to find some thread of reason behind it all.
As I lover of world history, I was surprised to find so many critical details I had previously missed. For example, other works originally led me to think that WWI was sort of everyone's fault. 'However, after listening to a blow by blow progression of events the Kaiself himself seems to deserve most of the blame. . In addition, I had no idea that so much upheval occurred in the Soviet Union during the interwar period.
He kind of grows on you after a few hours, but I initially felt that he wasn't enunciating properly. He does well with pronunciation and really deserves at least 3.5 stars.
No, its fairly engaging but you really should limit yourself to one decade a day. Otherwise its easy to lose focus and end up Leopold's Congo thinking that the author is still discussing Republican China.
I think this work should have been shortened to only focus on its strong points_ politics, international relations and war. The terse references to developments in science, art and popular culture also seemed somewhat out of place,One other thing I could have done without was the author's bizarre obsession with automobile-related fatalities for which he provides almost yearly statistics.
So this is very Eurocentric and war focused. It doesn't discuss much more than the politics leading up to/and war. Art, culture, science, technology can be combined into maybe 10 min. There is virtually no mention of central and south america nor africa (besides British imperial struggles). It also bothers me that the actor pronounces spanish words as if he is speaking Italian.
grocery list reading (dry as hell) and he thinks spanish is pronounced like Italian
YES> hearing the larger picture of the Eurocentric story was nice, but it seems to be from a selective perspective.
You may need a separate History of the 20th century to help balance the information
"Factual and grim"
Don't expect any light relief. This book is a chronological account of atrocities and disasters. There is very little commentary or analysis. It does, however, contain an immense amount of information and certainly identified and filled in the blanks I had. I do recommend it, but be aware of what you're letting yourself in for - it's not for the faint-hearted.
"An extended timeline"
The author decides to give us a year by year account of 20th century history. This means that you end up with a set of very brief sketches of events. There is no depth and little analysis. Often there are interesting facts to be heard, but if you have a decent knowledge of 20th century history then this is little more than a revision course.
"A century of massacre and slaughter"
Martin Gilbert's view of the 20th Century is the most dismal I have read or heard. Was it really like this?
This century was dominated by religious fanatics, meglomaniac dictators, tribal conflicts and human misery. Nothing good has come of it. Listen to this book and then kill yourself. Or go out and do something about it.
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