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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging, thought-provoking, read.
This is possibly the most interesting historical book around. Even those who are not interested in history will enjoy this book.
The massive scope of this work is impressive. The two areas that remain with me, years after reading this book are,
1. The further reinforcement of the notion of "Man's Inhumanity to Man". That man, when left to his own...
Published on 30 May 1999

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but a little biased and dated, too
I've had something of a feast of Paul Johnson in recent months. I finished his History of the American People a few weeks ago which I read alongside this one. I did notice that big chunks of the former turn up in the latter!

This is great history as journalism. Johnson has lots of tendentious opinions, and funnily enough he comes up with the thesis that his...
Published on 29 Jun 2008 by William Cohen


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging, thought-provoking, read., 30 May 1999
By A Customer
This is possibly the most interesting historical book around. Even those who are not interested in history will enjoy this book.
The massive scope of this work is impressive. The two areas that remain with me, years after reading this book are,
1. The further reinforcement of the notion of "Man's Inhumanity to Man". That man, when left to his own resources, without social restraint, will behave more beastly than any animal. I like to suppose that we can rise above that...but as this book shows, as societies have moved to be more democratic, ruled not by monarchies but by common man, we have become more barbaric.
2. The utter failure of the communist movement...the misguided beginnings, the continued mistakes, blunders...an elitist group of intellectuals who had no faith in the common man; just how non-communist the communist regime was...and this work was written before the demise of the communist world. How interesting it would have been if this book concluded just a few years later.
This book would be great for anyone who desires to spark the interest of history in those who have no desire to study it....(i.e., history teachers and their bored students)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable, with conservative bias showing, 5 July 1998
By A Customer
Paul Johnson is the thinking conservative's historian. In "Modern Times" (the book that Dan Quayle read!), Mr. Johnson undertakes the huge task of illuminating the political, militaristic and philosophical underpinnings of the 20th century up to the Kennedy era. As the book progresses, Johnson's focus shifts away from the Weltenschauung of Western Europe and Russia towards that of the United States. One gets the impression that Mr. Johnson became disillusioned with Europe after the wars and turned to the U.S. in hope of its role in maintaining the "right" world order. His personal political views also begin to emerge gradually, and culminate in a diatribe on the Kennedy era. Despite its flaws, the book captured me immediately and held me, despite my more liberal views, to the end. It may be a good example of bias in the historian's art, but is nevertheless a great read!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable history from a unique perspective, 20 May 1999
By A Customer
Paul Johnson combines two qualities hard to find in today's historical works - readability and a theocentric world view. He challenges the reader to interpret the facts honestly, abandoning past stereotypes and biases. A fascinating overview of our century. I hope it's updated for the rest of the 1990's. A must read for anyone with an interest in modern history. Secular humanists may not like some of Johnson's conclusions.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important works of history ever written, 9 May 1999
By A Customer
This is simply one of the best and most important works of history I have ever read. Mr. Johnson is an excellent writer, one of the best writers of history there is. Mr. Johnson understands the world, understands why the tragedies of the past seventy years happened, and he is not afraid to name names. Many persons who are generally presented as heroes in other histories and the mainstream media are not presented as such here. This history is not for the faint of heard, be prepared to have many of your closely held beliefs questioned.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing achievement; a key text of our age., 4 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Johnson surveys our blood-soaked century and its mountains of corpses and lays the blame at the feet of utopian politics and the totalitarian urge to power. American education cannot be considered fully reformed until this book is required reading in every school in the land.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but a little biased and dated, too, 29 Jun 2008
By 
William Cohen (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Modern Times Revised Edition: World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Perennial Classics) (Paperback)
I've had something of a feast of Paul Johnson in recent months. I finished his History of the American People a few weeks ago which I read alongside this one. I did notice that big chunks of the former turn up in the latter!

This is great history as journalism. Johnson has lots of tendentious opinions, and funnily enough he comes up with the thesis that his brand of religion and politics is good, and you can blame most of the world's ills on people who don't think like him. Also a few of his friends, like Thatcher, get glowing references.

He says the Americans weren't ruthless enough in Vietnam, and praises the First Gulf War, as a sign of healthy intervention in foreign affairs. However, the success of the First Gulf War led to the Second Gulf War -and that has been a disaster. He is a bit of a neocon and 80s fuddy-duddy. He has lots of scorn for Left wingers - which is intriguing, since he used to be one.

However his sweep is broad and I learnt loads about Africa and Asia that I had no idea about. He's good on the Soviet Union (though presumably a lot of this stuff has been updated since the collapse). I enjoyed the chapters on Weimar Germany and his views on commerce - and the importance of separating it from Government - I agree with.

He has some strong opinions about the Great Depression, though he admits that no historian can properly explain it. All I noticed is that the conditions he describes before it are very familiar today (long period of boom, low interest rates, excessive credit, hubris from the banks).

To stick him through nearly 1000 pages, or 2000 if I include his American history, he's definitely got an engaging and entertaining style. If you want to get interested in world history, Johnson is a man to get you started. After that, you can be amused by how other historians see the same events in a different light.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will set the tone for future historians, 24 Jun 1998
By A Customer
Excellent book. By far the most accurate, interesting, informative, and insightful history of the twentieth century I have read. This book is a must-read for all serious students of twentieth century history. The high quality of the analysis and coverage of the rise and fall of modern collectivist movements offered in this book is simply unavailable elsewhere.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enrages the left by confronting them with the truth., 29 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Nothing makes a tired leftist more furious than an engagement with the truth. Johnson's book, now a classic, provides a schematic for understanding the political and moral bankruptcy of "progressive" social movements and the inevitable misery and distress which follow as a consequence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest book I ever read--no kidding!, 10 Feb 1997
By A Customer
It's hard to be taken seriously when you say that something
is the greatest book you've ever read, but in my case, that's
true of "Modern Times." (No disrespect meant to the Bible;
it's just that I can't remember my first exposure to it,
whereas my memory of "MT" is very clear.) Paul Johnson
completely changed my worldview--or rather, he helped me
to realize that what my common sense told me was correct,
and that the anti-common sense view of history being taught
in most college classrooms was what was wrong. For
instance, that Communism was just as bad as Fascism,
maybe even worse because it dressed up in humanitarian
clothing--what a novel concept! Not only is he a great thinker
and assimilator of ideas (I challenge you to check out those
extensive footnotes), Johnson is also a better writer than the
vast majority of novelists. Especially if you are inclined
to DISAGREE with Johnson's views of history and politics, as I was,
this is a must-read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent work of history, provocative and readable., 25 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Paul Johnson provides a sweeping, 19th century liberal view of the 20th century, and does it with style. His most compelling theme is that of the awfulness which has afflicted our century as rigid moral codes decay. His detestation of "moral relativism" is clear, and he convincing shows how, when people perceive the end as justifying the means - that the moral value of their actions is relative to the assessed worth of their ends - then there is no logical limit to what can happen. The communist revolutions of the century had a noble end in the minds of the revolutionaries themselves, certainly this was true in China. Yet, as each event in those revolutions presented itself, actions of great horror were done to protect the revolution. There are other, less dramatic examples.
Johnson clearly argues from his traditional, Catholic, vantage point, and this must be kept in mind. For all that, his book is a very readable work of literature. I recommend it highly.
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