An alternative exploration of history's most challenging century, from the author of THE KLF, 'a thing of endlessly fascinating, utterly demented genius' GUARDIAN
The twentieth century should make sense. It's the period of history that we know the most about, an epic geo-political narrative that runs through World War One, the great depression, World War Two, the American century and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But somehow that story doesn't quite lead into the world we find ourselves in now, this bewildering twenty-first century, adrift in a network of constant surveillance, unsustainable competition, tsunamis of trivia and extraordinary opportunity.
Time, then, for a new perspective. With John Higgs as our guide, we step off the main path and wander through some of the more curious backwaters of the twentieth century, exploring familiar and unfamiliar territory alike, finding fresh insight on our journey to the present day. We travel in the company of some of the most radical artists, scientists, geniuses and crazies of their age. They show us that great innovations such as relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism and chaos maths are not the incomprehensible, abstract horrors that we assume them to be, but signposts that bring us to the world we live in now.
John Higgs brings us an alternative history of the strangest of centuries. He shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine but, in the words of Sir Arthur Eddington, 'stranger than we can imagine'.
John Higgs is the author I HAVE AMERICA SURROUNDED: THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY LEARY, THE KLF: CHAOS, MAGIC AND THE BAND WHO BURNED A MILLION POUNDS and the novel THE BRANDY OF THE DAMNED. He lives in Brighton with his partner and their two children.
It was formerly held that a comprehensive history of the last century would never be written, by virtue of the fact that we knew too much about that frenetic and eventful period. Now, with the era's ink barely dry, John Higgs demolishes this assumption with a breathtakingly lucid and coherent map of the tectonic shifts which drastically reshaped the human psyche, and the human world, within a hundred thrilling, terrifying years ... An illuminating work of massive insight, in STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE John Higgs informs us of exactly where we've been and, by extension, where we are. I cannot recommend this magnificent work too highly — Alan Moore, author of V FOR VENDETTA, WATCHMEN and LOST GIRLS
A beautiful, erudite, funny and enlightening tour of the widening boundaries of uncertainty revealed in the twentieth century, and who doesn't need a book that explains quantum behaviour with a boxing bout between Putin and a kangaroo? — Robin Ince
...a brilliantly stimulating tale. — Financial Times
... a challenging book that stimulates the reader to think radically. — Daily Mail
In Stranger Than We Can Imagine, [Higgs] broadens his intellectual reach to encompass modernism, situationism, chaos theory, indeterminacy and almost every other byway of that epoch. Higgs's plate-spinning act is a fine example of learning worn lightly. — Adam Roberts, New Scientist
John Higgs takes a journey through some of the 'curious backwaters' of the last century in the excellent, and consistently intriguing STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE. — CHOICE magazine
Hugely entertaining and thought-provoking — Scott Pack
To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz, reading John Higgs is like being shot with a diamond. Suddenly everything becomes terrifyingly clear — Andrew Male, Mojo
Higgs recounts...with wide-ranging erudition and a delightful deadpan humour; a particular joy is the explanation of quantum theory via an example of Vladimir Putin fighting a kangaroo. — Press Association
A great and truly enlightening read. — History Revealed
The best, most imaginative, most readable history book... No tired chronology of the Wars, Depression, or Vietnam here. No, instead you get a Bill Bryson-type rollercoaster ride of the ideas that made and broke the [twentieth] century. — Tea In The Cloister.com
Stranger Than We Can Imagine is a thought-provoking read. Its memorable anecdotes and signposts to further reading make it an enjoyable introductory text on twentieth century history, as well as an accessible guide to many of its more murky aspects. — History Matters.co.uk