The history of mankind is a never-ending story of change, revolution, and evolution – but surely no span of a hundred years can claim to have changed the world so dramatically, rapidly or so irreversibly as the Twentieth Century. At the start of the twentieth century the map of the world was coloured to illustrate the pervasiveness of the great European empires. Everywhere, from China in the east to all but a couple of countries in Europe, ancient dynasties wore their crowns in apparent security. None of that survived the next one hundred years. But change does not come in on the wind. Change proceeds from events – a political row, an assassination, a natural disaster, a human error or stroke of genius. Great changes flow from such events. The most tumultuous events of the twentieth century altered the world on a scale unprecedented in human history. In this series we examine the 101 Events which, in the judgment of experts, including those who contribute to the series, most influentially shaped the century, our world, and our way of life.
From the coronation of the enduring British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, to the rise of Iranian dictator Khomeini, to the impeachment trials of US president Bill Clinton, the first episode counts down from 101 to 89 events that have marked the last century. From the discovery of King Tut in The Valley of Kings to the evacuation of Dunkirk, from the Bandung Conference to the death of Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru, our first episode spans the globe and touches on wars, crimes, politics, entertainment; and starts with the Y2K Scare – an event of mass paranoia.
In Episode Two we countdown from 88 to 74 events that have shaped and influenced thought, marked wars, changed fashion, and rebuilt economies. We see the release of a book called Silent Spring that put a voice to an important plight, the doom of the Jonestown cult, and the opening of the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.
Counting down from 75 to 63, in Episode Three, we showcase great works of art and scientific feats in space, civil wars, sieges and environmental crises. We see the construction of the Panama Canal that created a passage between two continents, the invention of genetically modified crops that changed the future of food, the kidnapping of Lindbergh’s baby, and a Battle of the Sexes on the tennis court.
The events of the 20th century made their impact in many different ways. The battle of Stalingrad was turning point in WWII, the Rwandan genocide and Tiananmen Square massacre left millions in sorrow, and war criminals were taken to trial in Nuremberg. In Episode Four we countdown from 62 to 50 events including creation of the bra that would symbolize liberation of women, a groundbreaking heart transplant, and an Olympics disaster in 1972.
Wars, politics, revolutions and inventions – the events of the 20th century changed the way in which we live. In Episode 5, we count down from 49 to 34 events that include a Treaty in Versailles aimed at bringing peace to the world, the Watergate political scandal, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the assassination of John Lennon.
Counting down through our 20th Century events from 35 to 24, this episode includes a space venture of a shuttle called Challenger, a ship journey on the unsinkable Titanic, and a car chase of Princess Diana – all that end in disaster. We see a war in Vietnam, a war in China, and a war thrust upon the United States; the birth of the Israeli nation, and a new style of cinema with sound. Celebrity OJ Simpson is on trial, and a dictator consolidates power as Chancellor of Germany.
From the Wright brothers who launched a plane into flight for the first time, to a country that launched a rocket called Sputnik into space for the first time, the 20th century showed our rapid advance in technological feats. In Episode Seven we countdown from 23 to 11 events that include a new vaccination for the polio epidemic, a leap in human rights with a new Declaration, and the invasion of Poland that started a world war.
Almost two decades after the close of the 20th century, which ten events will stay in our minds and hearts as those that definitively marked history? Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech influenced civil rights laws, apartheid ended in South Africa, a bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, and man landed on the moon. Politics, wars, assassinations and inventions come into our final episode as we count down the top ten events that changed our century, our world, and our way of life.