The Century is a large coffee table style book that covers the history of the 20th century. While 600 pages can contain a fairly large amount of text, there are many events that can be deemed important enough to be covered in a history of the 20th century. There are enough events that 600 pages quickly fills up and many things that could be covered in detail can only be glossed over, and some things are only given a passing mention. This is to be expected. Every major world event that happened in a 100 year period cannot be adequately covered in a 600 page book (it would take two or three times as many pages to even come close). What is needed is a filter. The filter, as I see it, is two-fold. First, since this book is intended primarily for an American audience, the world events are seen through American (or perhaps just Western ) eyes. The events that are covered the most are those that directly impact America. The second filter is that events are covered that may not directly impact America, but they are so big and so iconic that to dismiss them would be folly. So, what we do have covered is the American 20th Century, and the biggest world events that indirectly impact America.

By no means is this a condemnation of the book. The topic of the 20th Century is simply too broad to cover every event of importance. This is not an in depth history, but rather a well written survey of the 20th century. It is a jumping off point for a reader to find something that is interesting and decide to read more about a given topic (segregation, the Berlin Wall, McCarthyism, etc). In every chapter, and touching most of the major subjects, there are personal testimonies written by people who actually lived through the events. This gives a personal look at what could be abstract history.

When I finished this book I was glad that I had read it. I find history surveys interesting because they give the bigger picture of what was going on. The text in this book flows smoothly and it is an easy and interesting read (though time consuming).