The 20th century

You cannot properly understand current world events without understanding the history of the 20th Century. This topic takes us on a journey from the end of Imperialism through two world wars and the Cold War and brings us to our modern world.
9 exercises available

Called the Great War (before World War II came about), World War I was the bloody wake-up call that humanity was entering into a new stage of civilization. WWI was the defining conflict that took Europe from 19th Century Imperial states, which saw heroism in war, into its more modern form. Unfortunately, it had to go through World War II as well - which some would argue was due to imbalances created by World War I.

Contrary to what some history books and movies would have you believe, World War I was not just fought on the Western and/or Eastern fronts. Because of the empires involved, it was a truly global conflict. This tutorial will cover some of the campaigns that your history book might not (but are important to understanding the War).

Naval blockades in World War I to starve enemy nation of trade. Contrary to what many think, American entry into WWI was not due purely to the sinking of the Lusitania. Learn more about what caused the United States to play its first major direct role in a European conflict.

The Middle East is a center of cultures, religions, and, unfortunately, conflict in our modern world. This tutorial takes us from a declining Ottoman Empire to the modern Middle East which is still the center of many religions, cultures and conflicts.

World war I (or the Great War) was a defining event for the 20th Century. It marked the end (or beginning of the end) of centuries-old empires and the dawn-of newly independent states based on ethnic and linguistic commonality. It didn't just change the face of Europe, it changed the face of the world. From the Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles, we'll see how the end of World War I may have been just the set up for even more conflict in Europe and the world.

Test your comprehension of the causes, dynamics and aftermath of World War I (as covered in the tutorials in this topic) by taking this quiz.

How did the National Socialists (Nazis) go from being a tiny, marginal party in the early 1920s to having full control of Germany and catalyzing World War II? Who was Hitler and what was his philosophy and how did he come to power?

The word "Fascist" is now a pejorative term ("pejorative" means "negative" or "derogatory") to describe leaders or states that have absolute control and are aggressively nationalistic. The terms "fascism" and "fascist", however, were first embraced by Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s to describe their party and policies (that were absolutist and aggressively nationalistic). This tutorial described Mussolini and the Fascists' rapid rise to power and the influence it had on the rest of the world (including providing a model for Hitler in Germany).

The early 1900s marked the end of thousands of years of dynastic imperial rule in China. It also marked the beginning of a complex period of fragmentation, civil war and fending off Japanese imperial ambitions. This tutorial covers everything from the establishment of the Republic of China by Sun Yat-sen to the Warlord Era to the Chinese Civil War between the Chiang Kai-Shek led Kuomintang and the Communists led by Mao Zedong.

World War II was the bloodiest conflict in human history. Starting with the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937) and the Nazi invasion of Poland (1939) through the eventual Axis power surrenders, this tutorial walks through the major events, year by year, in both the European and Pacific Arenas.

The cold war between the United States and the Soviet and their respective allies never involved direct conflict (which might have ended the world). Instead, it involved posturing, brinksmanship and proxy wars in far-flung regions of the world.