The Birth of the Modern: World Society, 1815-1830

Paul Johnson, Author HarperCollins Publishers $35 (1095p) ISBN 978-0-06-016574-1
In 1815, on the eve of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, reactionaryism seemed triumphant everywhere, but by 1830 a decisive shift toward democracy had occurred. In the intervening 15 years, contends Johnson ( Modern Times ), the matrix of the modern world was formed: the U.S. became a global power, Russia expanded rapidly, Britain penetrated Arabia and the Middle East, Latin America threw off Spain's yoke, and an international order which would endure for a century took shape. This marvelously readable, vivid, immensely illuminating 1120-page chronicle of the epoch of Andrew Jackson, Wordsworth, Goya, Faraday, Beethoven and Bolivar is filled with startlingly original, provocative observations. For example, Johnson draws parallels between the destruction of Native Americans in the U.S. and Russia's genocide of Central Asian nomadic peoples. He also argues that Chinese opium addiction was not ``a disease transmitted by the British'' but the home-grown malady of an archaic society. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 1120 pages - 978-0-06-092282-5
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