An extremely readable history of the 20th century with Europe as its focus and liberalism as its point of view. Sachar's...

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THE COURSE OF OUR TIMES

An extremely readable history of the 20th century with Europe as its focus and liberalism as its point of view. Sachar's heroes are pragmatists like Truman, Mendes--France, de Gasperi, and Clemenceau, While his super-hero is Churchill, but he also admires Tito and the Spanish Republicans. From the defeat of U.S. participation in the League of Nations--by no means a foregone conclusion, Sachar emphasizes--he moves to the rise of fascism, labor upheavals in England and France, the Irish rebellion, the Czech republic, the regimes of Kemal and Attaturk. In a Churchillian vein much attention is paid to appeasement of Hitler, but Sachar offers no real analysis of it, and in general the book's strengths are descriptive rather than interpretive; it's anecdotal but well-shaped, like a series of lively lectures. The ghastliness of the century is rendered through the slaughters of Serbs, Armenians, and Jews, as well as the extermination of African laborers. The post-World War II chapters are the weakest. On the subject of Israel and other decolonizations Sachar appears naive about the British; the sketches of the Sine-Soviet split and the Kennedy years are undistinguished; and throughout the book, Sachar's treatment of socialists and socialist history leaves something to be desired in terms of objectivity and critical use of sources. Sachar is the first president and currently chancellor of Brandeis University, as well as the author of the widely read History of the Jews (1965). Among students and consumers of general history, this book should find a broad audience--despite its flaws, it is ""popular"" in the best sense.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972