A Thread of Years

Paperback
The distinguished historian John Lukacs has been described as one of the most powerful as well as one of the most learned minds [of the] century by Conor Cruise O'Brien and as one of the most original and profound of contemporary thinkers by Paul Fussell. Here Lukacs presents a series of fictionalized vignettes of daily life as experienced by ordinary individuals in the United States (although Lukacs takes us to some European countries as well), each in a year from 1901 to 1969, and each followed by a short dialogue in which the author argues with an interlocutor (who may or may not be himself) over why he has chosen to develop a given scenario in that particular year and what its significance might be. The period represents the life of a single man, K., which Lukacs weaves in and out of the text and through which can be traced the leitmotif of the book: the decline of Anglo-American civilization and of the ideal of the gentleman. The book is primarily a work in the history of manners and mores, a delightful-and poignant-succession of sketches that brings the reader into the inner and often undeclared life of individuals and places them in the larger dramas of historical process in this century.