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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Desk

by Janet Hamill

December 8, 1999

As one century draws to a close and a new millennium begins there are a number of books at the Goshen Public Library and Historical that celebrate the fin de siecle. Of note on the shelves of current non-fiction are two outstanding books of general history. The Oxford History of the Twentieth Century, Edited by Michael Howard and William Roger Louis is a compendium of essays. Twenty-four distinguished historians survey the momentous events of the 20th Century and look at what the future may hold. Among the scholars are Ralf Dahrendorf, Alan Knight, William McNeill, James Patterson, and Alan Ryan commentmg on a multitude of subjects, from the fall of the Romanov Tsars and the Imperial Manchu dynasty at the beginning of the century, to the growth of a global culture at its conclusion. This invaluable repository of information and insight is beautifully illustrated with black and white and color photographs and includes a detailed chronology. The Twentieth Century: A World History by Clive Ponting is one man's analysis of our tumultuous century organized around a "world systems" theory. In this view of history, Ponting claims that core countries dominate the world, which provides raw materials and cheap labor in a state of virtual colonialism. Central to the theory is the struggle between progress and barbarism and the hope that in the future conscience will catch up with reason and democracy will become available to the preponderance of people. At the close of the century, Ponting's assessment is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in modern history.

Histories of specific areas of twentieth century achievement can also be found on the shelves of current non-fiction at the library. The New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age by William E. Burrows details the intense cold-war rivalry for dominance of outer space. Based on hundreds of interviews with Russian and Amencan scientists and engineers and former top-secret documents, The New Ocean is a fascinating story of the politicians and industrialists, astronauts and cosmonauts, science fiction writers and journalists who created the first era of space exploration. Art of the Twentieth Century by Ruhrberg, Schneckenburger, Fricke, and Honnef is a beautiflil documentation of the painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media visual art of Europe and the United States in the modern era. This two-volume, coffee table set examines all the "isms" of twentieth century, from cubism and surrealism to abstract expressionism and minimalism. With its up-to-date perspective and lavish illustrations, Art of the Twentieth Century is the equivalent of a century's worth of museum visits.

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