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Extended Audio Sample The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815–1830, by Paul Johnson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (299 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paul Johnson Narrator: Wanda McCaddo Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is an extraordinary chronicle of the fifteen years, 1815–1830, that laid the foundations of modern society. It is a history of people, ideas, politics, manners, morals, economics, art, science and technology, diplomacy, business and commerce, literature, and revolution.

From Wellington at Waterloo and Jackson at New Orleans to the surge of democratic power and reform, this tumultuous period saw the United States transform itself from an ex-colony into a formidable nation, Britain become the first industrial world power, Russia develop the fatal flaws that would engulf her in the twentieth century, and China and Japan set the stage for future development and catastrophe. Provocative, challenging, and listenable, this remarkable story is told through the lives and actions of its outstanding, curious, and ordinary people.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A colossal effort of energy and imagination.”

    Hugh Thomas, author of Rivers of Gold

  • “Fascinating…A savory social history, spiced with lively gossip…It is never dull. In many ways a tour de force.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Amazing…Crowded with wonderful portraiture, heroic feats of intellect and imagination…Reads at times like one of the novels it describes so brilliantly.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A considerable achievement…Immensely readable…Readers will learn a lot from The Birth of the Modern and have a good time while they’re at it.”


  • “We meet an enormous gallery of brilliant, eccentric, and (especially the poets) licentious characters…The author’s sheer enthusiasm [makes] the tiniest fragments of recorded history burst with light and color.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Marvelously readable.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Lively…Provocative.”

    Library Journal

  • “Johnson…is a master of vigorous narratives on epic topics. Astoundingly, he writes with fascination about events and movements in virtually all fields of human endeavor…A lively and readable history.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Notable Book for 1991

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rivka | 1/6/2014

    " Fascinating and brilliant. A book to work through (I did for over a year), not a quick read, but worth the work. I consider myself a much more educated person for having read this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Brian Pinnock | 12/23/2013

    " Great read. A forgotten century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bill Haines | 12/14/2013

    " A fascinating book on the world in the early 19th Century on how society was progressing to the modern world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Charles Thorland | 12/1/2013

    " I preferred this to Modern Times. Fantastic use of "revealing" anecdotes and a casual but beautiful style. "

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