Modern times – Paul Johnson


Now available in a revised and updated edition, the continuing national bestseller (nearly 200,000 copies sold) about the events, ideas, and personalities of the seven decades since the end of World War I. Originally published in 1983 and named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, this edition contains a new final chapter, and the text has been revised and updated.

Modern times, says the author, began on May 29, 1919, when photographs of a solar eclipse confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe – Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Paul Johnson then describes the full impact of Freudianism, the establishment of the first Marxist state, the chaos of ‘Old Europe,’ the Arcadian twenties and the new forces in China and Japan. Here are Keynes, Coolidge, Franco, the ’29 Crash, the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal. And there are the wars that followed – the Sino-Japanese, the Abyssinian and Albanian conflicts and the Spanish Civil War, a prelude to the massive conflict of World War II. The incredible repression and violence of the totalitarian regimes brought a new dimension to the solution of social and political problems, and in Germany, Russia and China we see this frightening aspect of the new ‘social engineering.’

Churchill, Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hirohito, Mussolini and Gandhi are the titans of this period. There are wartime tactics, strategy and diplomacy; the development of nuclear power and its use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the end of World War II and the harsh political realities of the uneasy peace that followed. The rise of the superpowers – Russia and the United States; the emergence of the Third World; the Marshall Plan and the Cold War; Tito, Nehru, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, Sukarno, Eden, Adenauer, Nasser, Ben Gurion and Castro are described. The book covers the economic resurgence of Europe and Japan; existentialism; Suez; Algeria; Israel; the New Africa of Kenyatta, Idi Amin and apartheid; the radicalizing of Latin America; the Kennedy years, Johnson and Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate, the Reagan years; Gorbachev and perestroika; Saddam Hussein and the Gulf War. And there are the Space Age, the expansion of scientific knowledge, the population explosion, religion in our times, world economic cycles, structuralism, genetic engineering and sociobiology.

Incisive, stimulating and frequently controversial, Modern Times combines fact, anecdote, incident and portrait in a major full-scale analysis of how the modern age came into being and where it is heading.

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