Although most of the Latin American republics had by 1945 enjoyed political independence for more than a century, they had much in common economically and socially with the emerging nations of Asia and Africa. Like the Asians and Africans, the Latin Americans had been suppliers of foods and raw materials to the rest of the world.
Once more, however, as in the time of Dreyfus, the republican forces rallied to meet the threat, and once more, after the crisis had been surmounted, France moved to the left.
The Arabs had overrun a vast collection of diverse peoples with diverse customs. Moreover, internal dissensions among the Arabs themselves prevented the establishment of a permanent unified state to govern the whole of the conquered territory. After Muhammad’s death, there was disagreement over the succession. Finally, Muhammad’s eldest companion, Abu Bekr, was chosen khalifa (caliph, the representative of Muhammad). Abu Bekr died in 634, and the next two caliphs, Omar (r. 634-644) and Othman (r. 644-656), were also chosen from outside Muhammad’s family.
In the age-old debate as to the most formative influences on an individual’s life—heredity or environment—and the most significant tool for comprehending either—faith or reason—John Locke came down squarely in favor of environment and reason.
The provisional government—which held office between mid-March and early November 1917—was a total failure. Russian moderates had no experience of authority. They were separated by a great cultural gulf from the lower classes. Their opportunity to rule came amid a fearful war, which they felt they had to pursue while reconstructing and democratizing the enormous and unwieldy Russian Empire.
Identifying when modern history began is really only a matter of convenience. Modern history relates to the presence of activities and customs that seem less strange to us today than do certain very ancient customs. Consider the range of such changes. In the Renaissance astrology was an accepted branch of learning; religious objections to it, largely because its concept of human actions as being governed by the heavenly bodies threatened the doctrine of free will, lessened its significance, until Pope Sixtus V condemned it in 1586.
The war in the trenches was unremitting tedium punctuated by moments of intense action. Long after the war a distinguished British historian, Charles Carrington (1897-1981), who was a young man on the Somme, wrote of his experience:
When Britain abandoned any pretense of raising all the basic foods its people needed, its population was growing so rapidly that self-sufficiency was no longer possible. The number of inhabitants in England and Wales more than tripled during the nineteenth century, from about 9 million in 1800 to 32.5 million in 1900.
Chemistry, which made possible plastics, synthetic fibers, and many other innovations, also greatly affected daily life by its impact on food, clothing, and most material objects. Chemistry assisted the very great gains made by the biological sciences and their application to medicine and public health.
After 1871 Bismarck sought to isolate France diplomatically by building a series of alliances from which it was excluded. He sought to keep on good terms with both Austria and Russia, and, what was more difficult, to keep both these powers on good terms with each other. Since both wanted to dominate the Balkans, Bismarck’s task was formidable.