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The Birth of the Modern: World Society…

The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 (1991)

by Paul Johnson

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This is an extraordinary chronicle of the fifteen years, 1815-1830, that laid the foundations of modern society. It is a history of people, ideas, politics, manners, morals, economics, art, science and technology, diplomacy, business and commerce, literature, and revolution.
From Wellington at Waterloo and Jackson at New Orleans to the surge of democratic power and reform, this tumultuous period saw the United States transform itself from an ex-colony into a formidable nation, Britain become the first industrial world power, Russia develop the fatal flaws that would engulf her in the twentieth century, and China and Japan set the stage for future development and catastrophe. Provocative, challenging, and listenable, this remarkable story is told through the lives and actions of its outstanding, curious, and ordinary people.
  burkenorm | Mar 10, 2018 |
An excellent history of the beginning of the modern world. I found it enjoyably written, often vivid, and insightful; I learned a great deal from reading it. ( )
  ShannonMcDermott | Jul 10, 2014 |
Paul Johnson is a British journalist, a believing Catholic--and a conservative. That will put some people off--although it's notable I saw more than one review from readers who said in spite of that they found this book incisive and readable. For me it wasn't something off-putting but something I sought out. Having grown up on Manhattan's Upper West Side from kindergarten to college I was exposed almost exclusively to a left-wing narrative of history. I wanted to hear from the other side, and yes you can detect a right-of-center sensibility here. But for that very reason I found invaluable a slant on history that was new to me. My first Johnson book was Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties. So this could be seen as a kind of prequel, although dealing with an even tighter time frame, just fifteen years from 1815 to 1830 Johnson feels you can find the birth of modern society.

I think a good case can be made for that, whatever your ideology, considering that as Johnson related, among other things, these were the years that saw the real impact of the industrial revolution and the transformation from horse power to steam power and rail. As for one reviewer that compares Johnson unfavorably to Zinn--I'd note that Johnson at least has extensive notes on his sources--which you won't find in A People's History of the United States--nor did I find Johnson an uncritical apologist for Imperialism--and I appreciated he treated the world as round, and gave me something other than a completely American-centric perspective. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Sep 6, 2013 |
This is a very dry, "clever" book which, in my humble opinion, does not carry its argument: namely, that the 15 years from 1815 to 1830 were the period in which "life as we know it" was created.

I read just over 400 pages before deciding that I was not enjoying this book, or learning anything of great significance. I, therefore, reluctantly decided that this would become one of a small group of books which I failed to read in their entirety. ( )
1 vote the.ken.petersen | Feb 7, 2012 |
Paul Johnson is a conservative historian, who frequently has a contrarian view to the rest of academia. For that reason, it's interesting to read his histories and compare the different views on different events. It forces you to think about how history is dynamic and requires active participation. This particular history is a big much. It's a VERY long discussion of world history at the beginning of the 19th century, which is when Johnson proposes was the beginning of the modern era. All aspects of the time are discussed, and no part of the world is left out. If you're into history, this is great. If you're more into popular histories, skip it. ( )
  apartmentcarpet | Aug 8, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060922826, Paperback)

From the prizewinning author of Modern Times comes an extraordinary chronicle of the period that laid the foundations of the modern world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

From the bestselling author of Modern Times, A History of the Jews, and Intellectuals, a provocative, challenging, and readable history of 15 years that laid the foundations of the modern world. The period after Waterloo (1815-1830), traditionally viewed as an Age of Reaction, was astonishly fertile in new ideas and, Johnson maintains, the modern world. 16 pages of halftones.… (more)

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