A Thread of Years

Lukacs, John
Date published: 
January 1998

In this book distinguished historian John Lukacs presents a series of fictionalised 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. John Lukacs was professor of history at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, until his recent retirement and has been visiting professor at many universities. He is the author of twenty books, among them Confessions of an Original Sinner, The Duel, The End of the Twentieth Century and The End of the Modern Age, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and the most recent, The Hitler of History. He is the recipient of numerous academic honours and awards.