The Birth of the Modern, by Paul Johnson
From the terrible conflicts of this century we have learned that, in addition to the devastation they wreak, big wars can accelerate ongoing innovations in organization and material technologies that will in turn expand the scale, complexity, and logistical reach of those human communities able to recover quickly from the conflagrations. Just so, Paul Johnson boldly argues in this vast and vastly rich book, “the matrix of the modern world was largely formed” in the years between the battles of Waterloo and New Orleans in 1815 and the overthrow of the restored French monarchy in 1830. According to Johnson,
modernity was conceived in the 1780′s. But the actual birth, delayed by the long, destructive gestation period formed by the Napoleonic wars, could begin in full measure only when peace came and the immense new resources in finance, management, science, and technology which were now available could be put to constructive purposes.
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