Terrible Beauty: A Cultural History of the Twentieth Century: The People and Ideas that Shaped the Modern Mind: A History Paperback – 15 Nov 2001
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In this extremely ambitious book, Peter Watson has achieved a noteworthy success. Weaving together so many ideas and so many people responsible for them, this story of the 20th century is both informative and stimulating. It unfolds in a way that captures the reader's attention and never relinquishes its grasp. The range of topics, from the arts and sciences through philosophy and ideas, renders this work a colossal and intricate chain of events. The links are cleverly interwoven between the century's unimaginable horrors and extraordinary developments. From the characters and events which shaped Vienna for the arrival of art student Adolf Hitler in 1907, to the ongoing conflicts of the computer age, Terrible Beauty, as its title implies, demonstrates the Jekyll and Hyde nature of modern civilisation. An excellent work of reference and an exciting read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A history of the twentieth century which covers all the ideas, people, great events, literary and artistic movements, scientific discoveries which have shaped the twentieth century.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are the kind of person who is often heard starting sentences, "I never realised until recently...", or, "Something I read the other day made me think...", then stop reading here and click on the "Buy this book" link. The range the author employs is nothing short of staggering - this is a history of the modern mind and covers everything you could wish to know about - but it is intensely readable.
Especially impressive here are the twists on history that give a heightened impression of what really matters; JFK's murder in dallas is mentioned only as a lead in to the groundswell that led to LBJ's welfare reforms and the emergence of the green movement; Neil Armstrong landing on the moon takes us to a long discussion on the space-race, evolutionary theory, archeology and theology. And it all hangs together superbly.
Although I am still blissfully ignorant of much of the world, having read this book I am at least better informed as to what I need to know more about.
The book is in 4 sections, each covering about a quarter of the century; 1' from Freud to Wittgenstein' 2)'from Spengler to Animal Farm', 3)'from Sartre to the Sea of Tranquility' and 4) 'from the counter culture to Kosovo'.The century opens with the stability and moral certainty of pre-1914 Europe, with Picasso, the unconscious,and natural selection;it ends with string theory, the genome project and post-modern, self-centered relativism.
Whatever age the reader may be, he/she will not fail to be entralled to discover the roots and origins of so much now taken for granted - for example, the wisdom of an Oxford Don, born in 1835,whose advice to the young William Beveridge, led later to the setting up of the British welfare state.Whether one's interest is the increasing power of science,the decline in tradition, the changes in the arts or simply the vast number of men and women, whose ideas and work have helped to bring about change - for good or bad(!),one will marvel at this book
Read - and be enthralled and educated.
Thus for instance, I consider myself someone with a strong Scientific background and a good grounding in traditional philosophy. I would say I am a keen 'consumer' of Art but not really an informed critic. I do have a reasonably wide and deep knowledge of music. So these were the intellectual credentials that I bought to my reading of this book. On the other hand I have next to no comprehension of economic history, sociology and cultural criticism. I have broad tastes in literature and poetry but not this author's panoramic sweep.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought for an 18th birthday present.
My daughter acquired this when she was 18 and it really inspired her to take history at university - still reading it now.
Book shows us developments, innovations, people who changed our lifes. Things and people that are not well known, but what they did is very important.Published on 27 Mar. 2014 by Svetlana Klockova
There are, perhaps, two main difficulties that I found with this book: the first is that it has the same style as that of, say, Russell's History of Western Philosophy - a facile,... Read morePublished on 21 Jun. 2013 by Mr Alan E Collett
This book provides concise and readable summaries of the key ideas of the 20th century. While some might nit-pick over details, it's ideal if you want a brief overview or... Read morePublished on 26 April 2008 by Schrodinger's cat
I really liked the subject of this book, it gives you a great overview of the main developments in every major science in the last 100 years. Read morePublished on 28 Feb. 2003 by Bas Röling
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