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10 Books to Read for the Year 2000

"Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."
A sobering thought considering this our ignominious 20th century
of revolutions, totalitarian tyranny, world wars, gulags, and death camps!

"No person can choose his age or the condition of his time. The past may rob the present of much joy and much mystery. The generation of Buchenwald and the Siberian labor camps cannot talk with the same optimism as its fathers. The bliss of Dante has been lost on our civilization."
Henry Kissinger
"The Meaning of History: Reflections on Spengler, Toynbee and Kant,"
senior thesis at Harvard College,
as quoted in the New York Times,
April 5, 1976, p. 20

Will the 21st century be any better than the 20th?
Only in understanding where we have been can we hope to know where to go!
Take some time to reflect on this last century as we approach the millennium.


Below are some recommendations for good books on 20th century history!

1.
"Modern Times" by Paul Johnson
It takes a big mind to tackle "big" history; Johnson makes it look effortless.

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"History of the Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides
Cutting insight into the nature of realpolitik,
as relevant today as in the Athens of Pericles.

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"Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
Multi-media age horror story of popular culture out of control.

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"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Sir Edward Gibbon
English prose of an elegance unknown to the writers of our time,
Gibbon chronicles "the triumph of barbarism and religion."

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"A History of Soviet Russia" by Adam Ulam
The definitive word on the Soviet nightmare gratefully now over.


"The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman
Captures well the old order immediately before
the First World War as it prepared to commit suicide.

7
"1984" / "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Hardly needs acknowledgment.

8
"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer
Unerringly accurate account of the Third Reich is journalism at its best,
Shirer mercilessly details the malevolence and folly of Hitler and his Germany.

9
"Bread and Wine" by Ignazio Silone
Salvation and justice in the revolutionary "vanguard Úlite."

10.
"The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order"
by Samuel P. Huntington
I hugely disagree with much of what he says,
but the book still makes for topical and interesting reading


The 20th Century:
The Age of Political Totalitarianism

"In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms."
Thomas Mann

"Anyone desiring a quiet [non-public] life has done badly
to be born in the twentieth century."

Leon Trotsky

TOTALITARIANISM

The Age of Religion was replaced by the Age of Politics,
which will in the future be replaced by the Age of....?

Total politics has produced the death camp and the slave camp, the psychiatric punishment hospital, brainwashing, Newspeak and secret police forces, of which that of the Soviet Union alone is larger than all the armies of Napoleonic Europe combined. A hundred new nations have arisen, exchanging, except in a handful of cases, forms of colonial dependence for tyrannies infinitely more oppressive. Even in its mildest forms, total politics has produced debilitating "welfare cultures," into which unfortunate millions are born, live, breed and die. At the end of a century of total politics its practitioners, whether democratic or authoritarian, continue to promise, in varying degrees, paradise on earth; but their claims carry no more conviction now than the dogmatic theology of their religious predecessors. We are awaiting a new Nietzsche to proclaim: "Politics is dead."
Paul Johnson
"The Pick of Paul Johnson"


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