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International History of the Twentieth Century

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International History of the Twentieth Century
By Antony Best, Jussi M. Hanhimaki, Joseph A. Maiolo, and Kirsten E. Schulze. (Routledge, London and New York: 2004. Pg. xxvii, 531. Maps, Tables.) ISBN: 0-415-20740-1.


Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - December 29, 2003

International History of the Twentieth Century is a suitable text for an introductory college-level survey course on modern world history. The text, written by Antony Best, Jussi M. Hanhimaki, Joseph A. Maiolo, and Kirsten E. Schulze, spans from 1900 to 2000. The book's epilogue updates the book through 2001, and includes a mention of the events surrounding the September 11th attacks in the United States, and their immediate aftermath. The text focuses on the history of international relations and world politics, and the growing trend toward globalization.

While the work provides a political history of the period, it tends to do this through the prism of the various conflicts that have been the hallmarks of the 20th century. Not only are major conflicts, such as World War I, World War II, and the Cold War covered in detail. This work also looks at the smaller conflicts which have played an influential role in international relationships, most importantly the various Israeli - Arab conflicts and the Vietnam Wars. The authors also look at various events that played a dominant role in international politics during the 20th century, ranging from the end of apartheid in South Africa to the rise of political and militant Islam.

The text contains twenty chapters that precede, more or less, chronologically. Each chapter details one major event or development and its consequences. For example, the chapter on The People's Republic of China covers the period form 1949-1989 and covers topics ranging from ascension of the Chinese Communist Party to power in 1949 to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989.

Each chapter includes an introduction and conclusion summary, and each concludes with a recommended reading list that will facilitate further study. There is also an extensive bibliography found at the end of the book. The text is enhanced by the inclusion of maps, and each chapter includes a debating section that provides a concise overview of any historiographical controversies surrounding the material in question. Throughout, students will find various key names and terms in bold print. Definitions of these names and terms can be found in the glossary at the end of the book.

The material in this book can easily be covered in a one semester course. The various chapters can also be used independently as supplemental reading material when used in conjunction with another text. While this text was written specifically for undergraduate level students, it will also be useful to non-academics seeking a readable and concise overview of the major events and conflicts that shaped 20th century international history.


Related Reviews:

Warfare and Society in Europe, 1898 to the Present, by Michael S. Neiberg.
A concise military and social history detailing 20th century warfare in Europe.

Twentieth-Century China - New Approaches, Edited by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom.
Eleven compelling essays that take a 'new' look at Contemporary Chinese history.

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