This two volume set by Edward Kantowicz was a random purchase several years ago from a book wholesaler. I think I spent $5 for both of them. Although each book retails for $40, you can pick up used copies for about $5 each. When I perused my shelves for books relevant to our studies, these fit the bill. The writing has been excellent and engaging. Collin is 350 pages ahead of me; he agrees that the books are eminently readable.
The subject is vast – how does one cover 100 eventful years in 900 pages? Kantowicz does a great job of paring down the information to what you need to know. The contents are accessible through Google Book Reader. I have particularly enjoyed learning about the Meiji Restoration in Japan, a brief history of the Balkans, the birth of Turkey, modern history of the Middle East (I’ve read about the Balfour Declaration but never quite knew what it meant), the independence of Ireland and the Mexican Revolution. And I haven’t even gotten to the Great Depression yet!
The title of the first volume comes from Handel’s adaption of Psalm 2: Why do the nations so furiously rage together? Kantowicz declares his point of view: “I was raised and educated with Catholic Christian values and a deep revulsion against warfare, based on Christian teachings about war and peace.”
From the introduction:
Each chapter (about 20 pages) could stand alone. The set would be a great addition to your reference books giving you more than a Wikipedia article and less than a book on many historical events.
The suggestions for further reading is very helpful and – oh my! – sure to keep my shelves groaning under the weight of books. He recommended the film Michael Collins to understand the Irish war for independence. We watched it last night: gripping, but not for the faint of heart.
Finally, the guy is a word bird. If you love seeing words explode into technicolor you will enjoy this book. Soviet means council. Caliph means successor. Sherif is an honorific title given to all Arabs descended from the prophet Mohammed. Yugo mean south. Slavs and Yugoslavs.