Cover image for A dictionary of contemporary history, 1945 to the present
A dictionary of contemporary history, 1945 to the present
Townson, Duncan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
Physical Description:
447 pages ; 25 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D842 .T69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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This book is a concise guide to the ideas, events, people and movements that have shaped the world from the end of the Second World War to the present.

Author Notes

Duncan Townson is a professional historian and is the author of the Penguin Dictionary of Modern History, 1789-1945 (1994), Muslim Spain (1973) and Illustrated Atlas of the Modern World (1981).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

With this dictionary Townson (Penguin Dictionary of Modern History, 1789-1945, 1994) brings researchers up to date. Although it covers only political and economic, not cultural or intellectual history, the task is still substantial, since the book intends to be "analytical as well as descriptive" and to cover the entire world. Although British and US topics are emphasized (an article on the AFL-CIO, but not the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund), many articles treat Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Articles are substantial (usually one to four columns; one of the longest is devoted to Margaret Thatcher) and clearly written. Each ends with a short bibliography; see references in the text are in uppercase. There is no index. Although he favors no point of view, Townson's perspective is critical; e.g., in the IMF article he points out that in the 1980s the IMF "took more out of the Third World in interest charges than it put in." The style is readable and clear. One cannot always see why some topics and persons are included and others excluded: Austria comes off poorly, with articles on neither Bruno Kreisky (chancellor, 1970-83) nor the controversial Kurt Waldheim. Omitted are Iceland, Golda Meir, Hafez al-Assad of Syria, Gerry Adams, and the Dalai Lama. Some interesting and useful articles appear under headings discoverable only by browsing, e.g., "Communist takeover of Eastern Europe." There are inconsistencies in use of language: Sendero Luminoso appears in Spanish, Italy's Lega Nord in English. These quibbles are minor, since this volume joins a crowded field of reference books, any of which fills gaps left by the others: e.g., Derek Urwin's Dictionary of European History and Politics, 1945-1995 (1996) and Jan Palmowski's A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century World History (CH, Jan'98). Townson is recommended for the clarity and thoroughness of its entries. V. W. Hill; University of Wisconsin-Madison

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