William Woodruff's magisterial history has a particular resonance in today's world; for it is a history of the last five hundred years, of the ascendancy of the West over the older empires of the East. The rise and expansion of the West began with the messianic zeal of Christianity asserting itself over the Muslim world, something that, half a millennium later, is being revisited through the use and abuse of the crucial element of statecraft - power. For as much as this is a study of history, it is also a portrayal of that power and how it shaped our contemporary world.
We cannot hope to understand the present, contends Woodruff, without knowing the past. And, with broad and boldly illuminating brushstrokes, he paints a vivid picture of the past half-millennium and the scope, significance and speed of the changes the West has effected.
After five centuries, contends Woodruff, the pendulum is swinging back towards the East. The baton once wielded by the European imperialists in their frenzied drive to 'save the world' has been seized by America and is pointing east towards Islam, the world's fastest-growing religion, and to Asia, the new powerhouse of great nation states.
Learned and lucid, A Concise History of the Modern World is also pertinent and provocative. Rather than an excavation of the past, it is an assessment of our history as both companion to the present and architect of the future.
Condition: Very Good
Goodreads Rating: 3.66/5