Cover image for Twentieth century : the history of the world, 1901 to 2000
Twentieth century : the history of the world, 1901 to 2000
Roberts, J. M. (John Morris), 1928-2003.
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 1999.
Physical Description:
xx, 905 pages : maps ; 25 cm
By way of introduction -- Structures -- The white man's world -- Shapes of things to come -- European exceptionalism -- Europe as a system of power -- Challenges and challengers in the making -- The Great War and the beginning of the twentieth-century revolution -- A revolutionary peace -- Years of illusion -- An emerging global history -- The path to world war -- The Second World War -- Appearance and reality -- The Cold War unrolls -- East Asia reshaped -- Africa and the Near East: Old and new problems -- Changing minds -- New economic and social worlds -- Authority and its new challengers -- The Cold War at its height -- Vietnam and after -- The reshaping of Europe -- A world in evolution -- Crumbling certainties -- Post Cold War realities -- Fin-de-siecle -- Retrospect.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D421 .R54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When it comes to narrative history, J. M. Roberts is an undisputed master of his craft. His classic History of the World (more than a quarter million copies sold worldwide) remains, in the words of eminent historian A. J. P. Taylor, "a stupendous achievement...the unrivaled World History of our day. . . unbelievably accurate... almost incontestable in its judgement." More remarkable, his History of Europe was was acclaimed as "the best single volume history of Europe. . . combining authority and good sense with fluency and wit" (London Times Literary Supplement). In his latest sweeping and entertaining work, Roberts focuses on our own momentous century.Twentieth Century places a chronological narrative of events in the context of the long-term changes that colored them. Among these are worldwide increases in life expectancy; major strides in science and technology; the radical reconfiguration of the global economy; vanished empires, shrunken white hegemony, and reassessment of "western" civilization; and the ever-evolving role of women.

Author Notes

J.M. Roberts, former Warden of Merton College, Oxford, is the author of numerous works of history.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Joining the many eminent historians who have tried to summarize the 20th century, Roberts (A History of Europe, etc.) takes as his framework the compelling argument that "in many ways, the world... was centered on Europe when the twentieth century began" and "much of that century's story is of how and why that ceased to be true before it ended." It's a good argument, and it distinguishes Roberts's history from those of Martin Gilbert (A History of the Twentieth Century, 1952-1999, Forecasts, Oct. 25), who takes a strict chronological approach, and Clive Ponting (The Twentieth Century: A World History, Forecasts, Feb. 1), who takes a more multithemed tack. With broad strokes, Roberts traces the political and economic events that led to the demise of Europe's empires and the continent's descent into two world wars, while also tracking the vicissitudes of democracy and communism throughout the world during the Cold War. He scrutinizes the development of the U.S.S.R. and the Asian powers, China and Japan in particular, but the U.S. generally gets short shrift, even during the second half of the century. Too frequently, Roberts appears frustrated by being forced to generalize, and he unnecessarily apologizes for having to do so (notably in his discussions of fascism and modernism). The greatest casualty of the book's scope is character. This is a book of trends, not people. The century's geopolitical rainmakers--FDR, Hitler, Mao, etc.--are present, but they exist on an epic rather than a personal scale. Fortunately, at any level of detail, the 20th century is a fascinating saga, and Roberts brings wit as well as a gift for summary to the task. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The author of the acclaimed History of the World and History of Europe turns his attention to the last 100 years. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xiii
Forewordp. xv
Book 1 The World of 1901: Inheritances
1 By Way of Introductionp. 3
Our century
The weight of the past
The different pasts of 1901
The 'civilized' world
Culture and hegemony
'One-half of the human species'
Ideas with a future
The scientific legacy
Movers and shakers
2 Structuresp. 39
Human numbers
The world's wealth
States and governments
Non-western government
Islamic empires
The United States of America
Latin America
The international order: power and great powers
Potential for change
3 The White Man's Worldp. 82
Empire and imperialism
The European empires
Idealism, interests and imagination
Settlers and natives
Imperialism and international relations: the 'Scramble for Africa'
Asian and Pacific empire
The imperial United States
The South African war
4 Shapes of Things to Comep. 111
Long-term demography
The divisions of humanity
A century of growing wealth
An industrializing world
New technology
Medical science
Mass communication
Changing mentalities
Acceleration and integration
Book 2 The Last Years of the European Ascendancy
5 European Exceptionalismp. 141
Privilege and unrest
Mass politics and nationalism
Constitutional governments
The German empire
Religion in European life
Tensions and strains
Women in Europe
6 Europe as a System of Powerp. 175
International order
Alliances and entanglements
The dissatisfied and dangerous
The appearance of security
New alignments
Deepening divisions
Young Turks
Russia's changing stance
Agadir and after
The Balkan wars
7 Challenges and Challengers in the Makingp. 207
Change and perceptions of change in Asia
The new Japan
The end of the Chinese empire
The European empires in the Far East
Indo-China and Indonesia
India under the Raj
India enters the twentieth century
Egypt and the end of Ottoman Africa
Ottoman empire east of Suez
New actors in the imperial drama
8 The Great War and the Beginning of the Twentieth-century Revolutionp. 238
The last crisis
The end of an age
The Great War
The changing world
Revolutionary war
Triumphs of nationality
The Ottoman collapse
The end of the first German war
Book 3 The End of the Old World Order
9 A Revolutionary Peacep. 271
The basis of settlement
The League
The international economy
Economic disorder in Europe
Democracy and nationality
Revolution and counter-revolution
The new Germany
International communism
The new Russian empire
A new autocracy
A world divided
10 Years of Illusionp. 304
A last flourish of empire
Kemal Ataturk
New currents in Europe's politics
An authoritarian wave
New uncertainties
The optimistic years
Locarno and after
An eastern enigma
The United States
Book 4 World Revolution
11 An Emerging Global Historyp. 339
The world depression
Asia in the era of European civil war
The sequel to the Chinese revolution
The peace settlements and Asia
Chinese communism
Japanese dynamism
Civil war in China
The turning tide in India
The United States
Latin America
12 The Path to World Warp. 378
The approach to the abyss
The Manchurian crisis
The China 'incident'
Indo-China and Indonesia between the wars
The German problem
Adolf Hitler
The German revolution
The crumbling balance of power
Ideology's contamination of international affairs
Towards a new German war: the Spanish Civil War
Hitler moves beyond the German lands
13 The Second World Warp. 410
From Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa
German Europe
World war
The conflation of wars
Global conflict 1941-5
The meaning of victory
Book 5 A New World
14 Appearance and Realityp. 435
Europe: amid the ruins
The framework of recovery
Great power realities
The Truman doctrine and the Marshall Plan
15 The Cold War Unrollsp. 457
Roots of conflict
The Berlin crisis and NATO
New nations: the beginnings of decolonization
Indian independence
The last throes of the Chinese revolution
Imperial realities in 1945
The running sore of the Ottoman Succession
Cold and hot war in Asia: Korea
Stalin's legacy
A divided Europe in a dividing world
16 East Asia Reshapedp. 494
After empire
The Indian sub-continent
The 'Third World'
The new China
China's re-emergence as a world power
The great steersman
Resurgent Japan
17 Africa and the Near East: Old and New Problemsp. 521
Past history, new facts
Pre-independence Africa
The independence process in Black Africa
South Africa and Rhodesia
Disappointment and disillusion
Arab and Jew
The Egyptian revolution and after
Algerian independence
Book 6 Shifting Foundations
18 Changing Mindsp. 553
New ways of seeing the world
The management of the natural world
Communications and information technology
The life sciences
Medical science
Space and the public imagination
Promise and misgiving
Facing new issues
19 New Economic and Social Worldsp. 584
In the long run
Europe's 'golden age'
Eastern Europe
World contrasts
Changing lifestyles
The oil crisis and after
Structural changes
Cultural consequences in a wealthier world
20 Authority and Its New Challengersp. 613
A liberating century
Dissolving certainty
Religion in the later twentieth century
Government, democracy and nationalism
Challenges to the state
The Pill
New waves
Women in the non-western world
Book 7 A Changing World Balance
21 The Cold War at Its Heightp. 647
After Stalin
The second Berlin crisis
Latin America enters world politics
The aftermath in Latin America
The changing USSR
The changing United States
22 Vietnam and Afterp. 672
The American entanglement
The changing Asian context
Oil and the Israel problem
The Iranian revolution
Islam in international affairs
An uneasy Latin America
23 The Reshaping of Europep. 695
Seeds of unity
The division of Europe
National interests
The path to Helsinki
The British crisis
Book 8 The end of an Era
24 A World in Evolutionp. 719
The last years of Chairman Mao
New patterns
Japan: the new world power
The Indian democracy
Africa's enduring problems
25 Crumbling Certaintiesp. 739
Seeds of doubt
American misgivings
Disordered Islam
The last phase of Cold War
Changing eastern Europe
Polish revolution
The crumbling of the Soviet system
A new Germany
26 Post Cold War Realitiesp. 765
The Gulf War
Persisting dangers
The end of the Soviet Union
A new Russia
New European security problems
The end of Yugoslavia
Nationality and ethnicity in the new Europe
European integration
Qualified re-orientation: the United Kingdom
Changes in China
27 Fin-de-sieclep. 799
Problems of peacekeeping
Europe after Maastricht
A common currency
Enlarging Europe
A troubled Far East
The Indian sub-continent
The United States at the end of the century
Pax Americana
28 Retrospectp. 829
Historical importance
The great upheavals
The mythology of human happiness
Mastery of the material world
The first world civilization
Today's political world
Appendix The Exploration of Spacep. 857
Indexp. 861