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20th Century Journey: A Memoir Of A Life And The Times


Description for 20TH CENTURY JOURNEY: A MEMOIR OF A LIFE AND THE TIMES: THE START: 1904-1930 by William L Shirer:

This is a memoir not only of a life but of the times: the first part of the 20th century as the author saw it unfold in America, Europe and part of Asia. It is both autobiography and history---by one of America's best known journalists and historians.

It is the story of an American who was born in the heartland shortly after the turn of the century and saw the country develop from the horse-and-buggy age, when there were few automobiles and electric lights and no movies, radio, television, electric refrigerators or washing machines, traffic lights, filling stations, income taxes, women's suffrage or travel by air, to the jet/nuclear age, when man had unlocked the secrets of the atom and learned not only how to blow up the planet in thirty minutes but how to land on the moon and propel and guide rockets to the stars.

It was a world, Shirer points out, that changed more drastically in the brief span of his own life and than it had in the previous two thousand years. Readers born after World War I and especially after World War II will be fascinated by a glimpse of a simple, gadgetless world they never knew but out of which grew the more complicated and distracting life of today. They will watch it change with an alarming accelerations the author recounts the unfolding of one life through the jolts, shocks and tumult of the early years of the unprecedented transformation.

This is a book, too, about one American's growing up: in Chicago from 1904 to 1913; in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 1913to 1925; in Paris during the golden years of the 1920's and subsequently in London, Berlin, Vienna, Rome and Geneva, when the forces of history that would culminate in the holocaust of World War II were first taking shape.

Shirer writes that he felt it was helpful in his understanding of America to have been born, shortly after the turn of the century, in Chicago, where one could grasp best what had become of the country and where it was going. All the boisterousness and the raucousness; the enormous drive to build, to accumulate riches and power; all the ugliness, the meanness, the greed, the corruption of the raw, growing country were exemplified there. Yet some of the poetry of the land and the city was there too, and the quest for art and learning.

You could feel it, he write, in the poetry of Carl Sandburg and in the novels of Robert Herrick, Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser; in the lives of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Peter Altgeld, Eugene Debs, Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey, Mayor Big Bill Thompson; and in those of the great Chicago tycoons---Charles T Yerkes, the traction magnate; Cyrus McCormick, of the International Harvester Company; Colonel Robert R McCormick of the "Chicago Tribune"; George Pullman, of the Pullman Palace Car Company; Philip Armour, the meat-packer king; and Marshall Field, the founder of the city's great department store. These are among the cast of characters in the early pages.

In Chicago and later in Iowa, Shirer grew up with the Midwest in his blood. More than any other place, he feels, this heartland shaped the American nationa and its civilization.


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Condition: Used - Good, Dust jacket is very worn on the edges. Inside is very good. Edges are slightly dirty.
ISBN: 0671221957
Shipping Weight: 1lbs
Published: 1976

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 September, 2013.

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