At the moment when the twentieth century tipped into the past, René Rémond takes a look back in an effort to appreciate all that the century brought humanity. Read More
This was a century of iron, wherein monstrosities reached, at times, never before seen proportions : two worldwide conflicts, the genocide of the Jewish people, the gulag universe, the undermining of ideologies claiming to explain the meaning of history, and the proliferation of totalitarian regimes.
But should the century be reduced to an exhaustive list of crimes and atrocities ? This was also the century when man conquered space, uncovered the secrets of matter, explored the human genome, and lengthened the human lifespan. It saw the triumph of democracy, whose principles now appear to benefit a nearly universal accord. The sentiment of the responsibility of the worldwide community for the planet as a whole tends to take precedence over the sovereignity of individual states. Moral conscience, which has become increasingly exacting, condemns today what it tolerated yesterday and legitimized before.
Should the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq throw this optimistic vision back into question ? No, affirms René Rémond, in a postface written for this new edition.