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Minutes to Midnight

Minutes to Midnight

History and the Anthropocene Era from 1763

By Paul Dukes

The book examines the evolution of the predicament symbolised by the setting of the Doomsday Clock at a few minutes to midnight in the context of the Anthropocene Era from 1763, making special reference to the study of history.

Paperback, 166 Pages

ISBN:9780857287809

January 2011

£14.99, $24.95

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by a group of atomic scientists to symbolise the perils facing humanity from nuclear weapons. In 2007 it was set at five minutes before the final bell, including for the first time the threat of climate change as well as new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology. This book aims at an analysis of the evolution of our present predicament throughout the Anthropocene Era beginning in 1763, making special reference to the history of the period, the study of the subject and major advances in the natural sciences.

Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson set out the basis for a scientific approach to the pre-industrial stages of historical development in the Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century, when the American and French Revolutions created a vocabulary of modernity. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as the industrial revolution unfolded in several stages, nationalism, imperialism and totalitarianism were among the phenomena impeding the update of the Enlightenment programme as well as the fulfilment of the aspirations of 1776 and 1789. Our present predicament demands a rigorous examination of its origins and an assertion of a scientific pandisciplinary approach involving history and other academic specialisations.

Reviews

'‘Minutes to Midnight’ is a profoundly erudite and original work, formidable in intellectual scope and bristling with insight. It should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the contemporary world and the role of history.' —Dr Murray Frame, University of Dundee


'At last, a historian with the courage and vision to shake us out of our postmodernist torpor. Dukes’ grand tour – from the tentative experiments of James Watt to nuclear twilight and climate catastrophe – starkly reminds us how quickly we have come to the edge of our own anthropogenic abyss.' —Dr Mark Levene, University of Southampton


'Paul Dukes has written a significant book, arguing that we live in a new geological age, one that was and continues to be shaped in the most profound way by humankind. The world is “ours” in a way that it has never been before, and we can thank Paul Dukes for telling us so, and suggesting what new responsibilities this “ownership” entails.' —Professor Marshall Poe, University of Iowa


'Professor Dukes’ unique capacity for global analysis across centuries has with penetrating brilliance examined the topic of our times, the roots of the ecological crisis. This is engaged history from an outstanding historian; an absolute must read.' —Professor Ian D. Thatcher, University of Ulster

Author Information

Born in Wallington, Surrey in 1934, Paul Dukes has history degrees from Cambridge, 1954, Washington, 1956 and London, 1964. He has been associated with Aberdeen University since 1964, with visiting appointments at Auckland and Cornell. He is the author of a wide range of publications on Russian, European and world history.

Series

No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Introduction: Times and Approaches; 2. Enlightenment and Revolutions, 1763-1815; 3. Nations and –Isms, 1815-1871; 4. Natural Selection, 1871-1921; 5. From Relativity to Totalitarianism, 1921-1945; 6. Superpower, 1945-1968; 7. Planet Earth, 1968-1991; 8. Minutes to Midnight, 1991-; Notes

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