15 Years to Give Birth to the Modern World

Today’s PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf selection comes From Ed Driscoll’s “Far from Complete: Great Books Missing in the Kindle Format” article:

The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830, by Paul Johnson: This 1992 book was included last year on the Kindle’s coming soon list, but it ultimately never made it into electronic format. It’s too bad; I’ve enjoyed the book in dead tree format, and would love to go back and luxuriate in it once again in electronic format. As Commentary noted in their review at the time of the book’s original publication:

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.

By then, thanks to steam power, the world’s first passenger railway (Manchester-Liverpool) was running, and nine daily newspapers were being published in London. The same new technology had spawned gunboat diplomacy after the shallow-draft steamer Diana penetrated 500 miles up the Irrawaddy River in 1825 to chase a fierce fleet of oar-driven Burmese imperial praus until their thousands of oarsmen were exhausted and the praus were sunk at leisure by the Diana’s guns, proving to one eyewitness that “the muscles and sinews of men could not hold out against the perseverance of the boiling kettle.”


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Related at PJ Lifestyle:

Paul Johnson on Winston Churchill and Israel

Paul Johnson on Walt Disney’s ‘New Form of Miracle Play’