Never Get Burned
Recovering from Lynching

The Birth of the Modern

The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 by Paul Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Epic, magisterial, even overwhelming. Difficult for me to imagine that one intellect could so beautifully filter so much information through a well-told story. I've read two other of Johnson's histories (one on Christianity and one on America) and admired them both, particularly for their fresh insights into familiar terrain. But the sheer scope and volume of this book is difficult to comprehend.

There are times when it bogs down in too much detail--I remember skimming past the developments in divorce custom and law. But there are also moments of revelation--he gives one of the best discussions I've ever read of Immanuel Kant.

His great skill is tying together diverse developments--in politics, music, literature, technology, philosophy, printing, etc. and coherently drawing out their themes and influences. Great figures stride across these pages--Jackson, Wellington, Chateaubriand, Wordsworth, etc.--but also ordinary folks revealed in their letters and diaries.

Quite simply, the book amazes me.

View all my reviews


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