Category Archives: History


Summary: The Late Twentieth Century

After World War II the nations of western Europe maintained their sovereignty and nationalist outlook but formed an economic union, the Common Market. In Britain a social revolution was accomplished with the nationalization of some industries and the extension of social programs. In the 1980s, however, Britain still faced economic difficulties and the unresolved problem of Northern Ireland.

In France, General de Gaulle reestablished republican government after liberation. Although he left office in 1946, he returned in 1968 to preside over the birth of the Fifth Republic.

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Prospects In The Late Twentieth Century

Historians do not deal with the future. Yet one justification for the writing and reading of history is that it helps us better to understand the present and to interpret more intelligently the future as it rushes in upon us.

In 1846 the young French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) defined modernity as that phase of experience in which life is lived in fragments, in which the pace of change and an inability to separate the important from the unimportant create a sense of confusion, of one’s life being out of control or in the control of others.

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Latin America In The Late Twentieth Century

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.

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Africa In The Late Twentieth Century

The rebellion against imperialism reached Africa in the 1950s. Ethiopia was taken from its Italian conquerors after World War II and restored to Emperor Haile Selassie, who had been ousted in 1936.

In 1952 he annexed the former Italian colony of Eritrea. Selassie embarked on various programs of internal modernization though not liberalization, and he worked hard to assist in the development of the Organization of African Unity. However, he misjudged both the speed and the nature of his reforms.

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The Middle East In The Late Twentieth Century

In Saudi Arabia, in the small states along the Persian Gulf, and in Iraq and Iran, the Middle East possessed the greatest oil reserves in the world. Developed by European and American companies that paid royalties to the local governments, these oil resources influenced the policies of all the powers.

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South Asia In The Late Twentieth Century

The Labour victory in Britain in 1945 made the emancipation of India a certainty. But the deep-seated tensions between Muslims and Hindus had assumed critical importance. When the Hindu Congress party and the All-India Muslim League faced the need to draw up a working constitution for the new India, they found themselves in complete disagreement.

The Muslims had long been working for separate Hindu and Muslim states, which were in the end reluctantly accepted by the Hindus. In 1947 Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan were set up as separate self-governing dominions within the Commonwealth.

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Southeast Asia In The Late Twentieth Century

Once the Japanese occupation ended in southeast Asia, the major Western colonial powers found that they could not revert to the prewar status quo. The United States had granted the Philippines independence in 1946. In 1949 the Dutch had to recognize the independence of the Netherlands East Indies as the republic of Indonesia, with a population of 100 million people.

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The Koreas In The Late Twentieth Century

South Korea had also attempted constitutional government in the Western manner but ran into serious difficulties. After the disruptive Korean War of the early 1950s, the government of Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), South Korean president since 1948, came under mounting criticism for corruption and arbitrary actions.

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People’s Republic of China In The Late Twentieth Century

The People’s Republic of China, the most populous country in the world (in 1994, with an estimated population of 1,190,431,000, the only nation with more than a billion people), remained important in Western economic and political calculations and also relatively isolated.

After years of upheaval, with massive purges during the cultural revolution in 1965, the nation’s leadership appeared to realize that it had done untold damage to China’s educational system, to its industrial capacity, and even to the revolutionary principles it espoused.

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Japan In The Late Twentieth Century

The occupation of Japan was wholly American. Despite some strong opposition from American opinion, the emperor was left on this throne, deprived of his divine status, and subjected to the close control of the forces of occupation.

When the American occupation ended in 1952, the Japanese had made a promising start on a democracy of the Western type. Their economy grew so rapidly that it overtook France and West Germany, to rank third in the world after the Untied States and the Soviet Union.

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