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A Watershed in World History

Part of the series Fin de Si├Ęcle: the 1890s
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Paul Dukes surveys how historians of 1900 viewed their pasts and the prospects of the 20th century.

Is there some kind of special importance in the centuries and their turning points? Certainly we all think about the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth as distinct entities, while to look no further than the United Kingdom, 1603, 1707 and 1801 are all dates of significance in its unification. And when we come to consider the years around 1900, the broader case is overwhelming. For the race for empire had brought about a division of virtually the whole world between the leading powers.


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