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Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century

From Publishers WeeklyJust as the 20th century dawned with an unparalleled optimism regarding the moral, social and scientific progress of humanity, it ended with an unshakeable confidence in the promises of technology and the power of free-market economics to deliver a better life for all humankind. British journalist Watson's (War on the Mind; The Caravaggio Conspiracy; etc.) panoramic survey traces various 20th-century ideas and their power to bend and shape society and individuals. At a frenetic pace, he gallops through the modern intellectual landscape, pausing long enough to graze the founts of philosophy (from Wittgenstein to Richard Rorty to Alasdair MacIntyre), literature (Kafka, Woolf, Mann, Rushdie), literary criticism (F.R. Leavis to Jacques Derrida), art (Picasso to Warhol), economics (Milton Friedman to John Kenneth Galbraith), science (Linus Pauling to E.O. Wilson) and film (D.W. Griffiths to Fran?ois Truffaut). He also briefly examines the significance of a wide range of political and cultural movements, such as socialism, communism, fascism, feminism and environmentalism. Watson's rich narrative covers every corner of intellectual life in the 20th century, yet the style is so breezy and anecdotal that it lacks the deep learned elegance of a history of ideas by, for example, Isaiah Berlin or Jacques Barzun. Unfortunately, for all the book's breadth, Watson's workmanlike approach has the feel of a handful of school assignments cobbled together from encyclopedia articles rather than of work drawn from years of thoughtful reflection and an intimate acquaintance with, and love of, ideas. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library JournalIn this long and astonishing narrative, British journalist Watson presents an unconventional history of the 20th century, which, he argues, "has been dominated by a coming to terms with science." Although this massive volume is packed with a multitude of events, ideas, and influential people, Watson's infectious writing carries the reader swiftly along. The mosaic he creates can best be illustrated by this typical sentence: "On 25 October 1900, only days after Max Planck sent his crucial equations on a postcard to Heinrich Rubens, Pablo Picasso stepped off the Barcelona train at the Gare d'Orsay in Paris." In 42 chapters, Watson travels from Freud to the Internet, from pragmatism and relativity to Brave New World and Hiroshima, while considering the impact of the arts, existentialism, feminism, sexuality, genetics, medicine, the Great Society, race, AIDS, and more. Key people and ideas are highlighted. It is hard to spot any major omissions, though post-World War II music seems to get overlooked. While this work is reminiscent of Paul Johnson's Modern Times (LJ 5/1/83), Watson's scope goes far beyond politics and history. This book will be read and consulted for many years. Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Views: 75

Capo

A young Sicilian immigrant rises through the ranks of the Mafia in this "mesmerizing" novel that "gives Puzo a run for his money" (Publishers Weekly). Sicily, 1879: After successfully smuggling a severed human ear past the police, Silvio Randazzo completes his dangerous first rite of passage—from peasant boy to Mafia soldier. The ear is a chilling ransom demand from Antonino Greco, Italy's most famous and feared Mafioso. But it's not until Randazzo commits his first vendetta killing that he truly "makes his bones" as a worthy member of the society that values honor above all . . . and rewards betrayal with death. New Orleans, 1880: By exterminating the rivals of Angelo Priola—the most powerful gangster in America's most decadent city—the newly arrived Randazzo makes his mark in the fledgling underworld of his new homeland. As the law closes in on the notorious Greco, and dangerous new players vie for Priola's territory,...
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Stones of Treason

An art historian gets caught up in a deadly international standoff in this "inventive" political thriller (The Guardian). What would happen if Greek extremists blackmailed Britain into returning ancient sculptures? And what if that blackmail involved not only Queen Elizabeth II, but also dark secrets about her uncle, the Duke of Windsor? When Edward Andover, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, receives a painting by Raphael from an anonymous collective known only as the "Apollo Brigade," he's nonplussed. But the ominous delivery is soon followed by two more. All three paintings, it turns out, were looted by the Nazis during World War II. Soon, Andover finds himself racing to prevent the public exposure of secrets from the royal family's past, should they not meet the group's demand to return of the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, on display at the British Museum. What's more, his very life may be at stake as the Apollo Brigade makes its violent...
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Landscape of Lies

A mysterious painting holds the clues to a cache of priceless relics in this treasure hunt of "deepening suspense" à la The Da Vinci Code (Library Journal). In financial trouble, Isobel Sadler considers selling a painting that's been in her family for generations. She can't imagine it's worth much . . . until someone tries to steal it. Mystified, Isobel turns to art dealer Michael Whiting for advice. He identifies the painting as a sixteenth-century treasure map pointing the way to a series of lost religious artifacts hidden by monks when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. If he and Isobel can decipher the clues in the painting, Michael reasons, her money troubles will disappear. But if they can't decode the painting quickly, Michael and Isobel could be history themselves. As they struggle to translate the arcane instructions—laced with references to everything from the Bible to Botticelli—they...
Views: 54

The Medici Conspiracy

A true-life thriller completely exposes the network behind the illegal trade in ancient artifacts - and features a rich cast of rogues and some of the world's most prestigious art institutions.
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The Nazi's Wife

Stolen gold and forbidden love intertwine in this riveting novel set during the last days of the Third Reich by "a superb writer and a masterful storyteller" (Houston Chronicle). Walter Wolff, an officer in the US Army's art recovery unit, has been assigned to track down a priceless collection of gold coins stolen from a monastery in Austria. General Eisenhower believes the treasure could be melted down and used to finance the escape plans of high-ranking Nazi officials, including Adolf Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann. So Wolff sets out in pursuit of Bormann's right-hand man, Rudolf von Zell, the last person known to possess the coins. His only lead is von Zell's beautiful, enigmatic wife, Konstanze. But as Wolff works to win Konstanze's trust, he finds himself falling in love with her. As their relationship intensifies, so too does the pressure to fulfill his mission—only at what cost? Inspired by real...
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Madeleine's War

A compulsively readable blend of romance and drama based on actual events in Britain and France leading up to D-Day in 1944 Matthew Hammond is a British military officer posted to the European theater during World War II. He sustained a serious injury on the front lines, so bad, in fact, that it cost him a lung. Now he is back in England, unable to fight, but he continues to serve his country by training new resistance fighters. One of the recruits under his tutelage is Madeleine, a spellbinding, impassioned French-Canadian with eyes of "burnished whiskey." Despite protocols discouraging romance, they are deeply in love, and Matthew is torn about putting Madeleine's life in danger. He already has one tragic affair with a Resistance fighter under his belt--his former lover, Celestine, was killed because her assassination of a German doctor went awry. But the Allies are mustering all their resources for crucial beach landings in Normandy, and...
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The Modern Mind

From Freud to Babbitt, from Animal Farm to Sartre to the Great Society, from the Theory of Relativity to counterculture to Kosovo, The Modern Mind is encyclopedic, covering the major writers, artists, scientists, and philosophers who produced the ideas by which we live. Peter Watson has produced a fluent and engaging narrative of the intellectual tradition of the twentieth century, and the men and women who created it.
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Vatican Vendetta

An ambitious American pope makes powerful enemies—from the Italian Mafia to the US President—in this fascinating thriller that "could be next week's news" (Daily Mail). What if the unused riches of the Catholic Church were called upon to combat global poverty? Following a tragic earthquake in Italy, Pope Thomas—the first American pontiff and a transformative leader—auctions off one of the Vatican's Renaissance masterpieces to aid in the recovery. The sale is such a success that he decides to go even further: organizing the greatest art auction ever held, with the proceeds going to help the poor. But as the pope's charitable designs acquire political overtones, he encounters resistance from world leaders, including the president of the United States. And closer to the Vatican, the Mafia have as much interest in the poor as do popes and presidents . . . "Master of the art-world thriller"...
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The German Genius

Peter Watson's virtuoso sweep through modern German thought and culture, from 1750 to the present day, will challenge and confound both the stereotypes the world has of Germany and those that Germany has of itself.From the end of the Baroque era and the death of Bach to the rise of Hitler in 1933, Germany was transformed from a poor relation among Western nations into a dominant intellectual and cultural force—more creative and influential than France, Britain, Italy, Holland, and the United States. In the early decades of the twentieth century, German artists, writers, scholars, philosophers, scientists, and engineers were leading their freshly unified country to new and unimagined heights. By 1933, Germans had won more Nobel Prizes than any other nationals, and more than the British and Americans combined. Yet this remarkable genius was cut down in its prime by Adolf Hitler and his disastrous Third Reich—a brutal legacy that has overshadowed the nation's...
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