The War of the World
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The War of the World : History's Age of Hatred

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The beginning of the twentieth century saw human civilization at its most enlightened, well-educated, globalized and wealthy. What turned it into a bloodbath? Niall Ferguson re-tells the story of history's most savage century as a continual war that raged for 100 years. From the plains of Poland to the killing fields of Cambodia, he reveals how economic boom-and-bust, decaying empires and, above all, poisonous ideas of race led men to treat each other as aliens. It was an age of hatred that ended with the twilight, not the triumph, of the West. And, he shows, it could happen all over again. "A heartbreaking, serious and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic." (Simon Sebag Montefiore, The New York Times). "Unputdownable, controversial, compelling." (Independent on Sunday). "The grenade lobbed into the cosy tea party of received wisdom." (Max Hastings). "A big, bold and brilliantly belligerent book." (Sunday Telegraph). "History at its most controversial...no one can afford to overlook it' Allan Mallinson 'Hums with energy, quotable insights and pithy summaries." (Observer). "Gripping." (Tristram Hunt).

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Product details

  • Paperback | 816 pages
  • 124 x 196 x 42mm | 598.74g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations(some col.)., maps, ports.
  • 0141013826
  • 9780141013824
  • 36,340

Review quote

A heartbreaking, serious and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic -- Simon Sebag Montefiore The New York Times Unputdownable, controversial, compelling Independent on Sunday The grenade lobbed into the cosy tea party of received wisdom -- Max Hastings A big, bold and brilliantly belligerent book Sunday Telegraph History at its most controversial ... no one can afford to overlook it -- Allan Mallinson Hums with energy, quotable insights and pithy summaries Observer Gripping -- Tristram Hunt

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Review Text

A sweeping, big-picture view of the bloodiest century in human history.The 21st is giving the 20th century a run for its money, but, as prolific historian Ferguson (History/Harvard Univ.; Colossus, 2004, etc.) notes, the latter is still the standard-bearer for human savagery, "far more violent in relative as well as absolute terms than any other previous era." Borrowing a page from the little-read German historian Oswald Spengler, Ferguson introduces grand themes in an effort to determine why the time should have been so murderous even as standards of living were improving throughout so much of the world. The War of the World (encompassing the period from before WWI to the end of the Korean War, about half a century), and particularly its bloodiest phase, WWII, were, he writes, fueled by several disparate sources, which "may be summarized as ethnic conflict, economic volatility and empires in decline." The first helps explain the Holocaust and Japan's savagery against captive Asian populations; Ferguson catalogues some of the endlessly inventive ways in which militarized states and pseudo-states have efficiently slaughtered their own people before tangling with their neighbors. Having delineated these far-reaching themes, which he has addressed in previous work-indeed, this opus is a sort of summary of his work to date-Ferguson delivers a more or less standard history, little of which will come as news to readers familiar with the work of, say, David Reynolds or Paul Johnson. Still, Ferguson writes with an eye for the telling detail, showing, for instance, that anyone who professed surprise at the Third Reich's program of expansionism could not have been paying attention, since Hitler publicly announced in 1936 that "the German armed forces must be ready for combat within four years."A lucid, blood-soaked study that will give no comfort to those pining for peace in our time. (Kirkus Reviews)

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About Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization and The Great Degeneration. His Kissinger, a feature-length film based on his interviews with Henry Kissinger, won the 2011 New York Film Festival prize for best documentary. His many other prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).

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