The 20th-century should make sense. It's the period of history that we know the most about, an epic geo-political narrative that runs through World War One, the great depression, World War Two, the American century and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But somehow that story doesn't quite lead into the world we find ourselves in now, this bewildering 21st-century, adrift in a network of constant surveillance, unsustainable competition, tsunamis of trivia and extraordinary opportunity.
Time, then, for a new perspective. With John Higgs as our guide, we step off the main path and wander through some of the more curious backwaters of the 20th-century, exploring familiar and unfamiliar territory alike, finding fresh insight on our journey to the present day. We travel in the company of some of the most radical artists, scientists, geniuses and crazies of their age.
They show us that great innovations such as relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism and chaos maths are not the incomprehensible, abstract horrors that we assume them to be, but signposts that bring us to the world we live in now.
John Higgs brings us an alternative history of the strangest of centuries. He shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine but, in the words of Sir Arthur Eddington, "stranger than we can imagine".
Higgs has done an excellent job of making sense of the last Century from a Western perspective. Insightful, fun and thought provoking. I recommend you listen, learn and above all enjoy.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
The interaction among science, culture and the arts. I have read much of his source material but it was very useful to have it all brought together in one book with all the parallels and interactions pointed out.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I loved this book from start to finish. It's educational and thought provoking. By providing a comprehensive account of significant changes in politics, economics, science, power, philosophy, music and more during the twentieth century, the reader is provided with new perspectives and a fascinating insight into our own place on the planet and in the timeline of recent human history during a period of strange and significant change. Do yourself a favour - read (or listen) to this book!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Great book, adds a much needed more 'in touch' take on how we got to where we now are.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This book works wonders on the mind, if you already enjoy looking at things differently and not buying into the programming of society and history then you will love it. If however you are not used to that mode of questioning the World yet would like to change the way you seek and find answers and interpret things this will be a most suitable starting place.
If you are a bit Greyface it might be best to step away in case you get a bit shaken from exposure to a unique and fantastically written book laden with humour and insight.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A history of the 20th century in the form of ideas. From the Einstein's complicated revision of the physics which surround us, to the the influence of the ' net, and Social Networking. Simply told and easily understandable. A good listen- I'll look for more from the author.
This book was not what I expected as it is a much round of you of the 20th century then I thought it might be. Wow not sure of it in the beginning I'm really glad I stayed with it right to the end.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Narcissistic twaddle about art and its supposed importance to understanding the 20th century. Couldn't tolerate more than the first half hour.
1 of 6 people found this review helpful
If you want to hear a leftie rumble on about his self righteous beliefs then go ahead. A story has only one side for mr Higgs and even suggesting there might another side is considered individualism and harms the righteous left. Absolute disgrace of a book...
0 of 3 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Stranger Than We Can Imagine the most enjoyable?
The narration of the fascinating subject by the author
What other book might you compare Stranger Than We Can Imagine to, and why?
Non I have read - although it is compatible with the work of the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli - especially his "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics"
Have you listened to any of John Higgs’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No - it needed time for reflection