Since the end of the Second World War it has been widely assumed that the western model
of liberal democracy and free trade is the way the world should be governed.
However, events in the early 21st century -the 2003 war with Iraq and the financial crash of 2008 - have threatened the general acceptance that continued progress under the benign (or sometimes not so benign) gaze of the western powers is the only way forwards.
And as America turns inwards and Europe is beset by austerity politics the post-war consensus looks less and less secure. But is this really the worst of times?
In a forensic examination of the world today, acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh sets
out to answer that question, in his new book, The Best of Times, The Worst of Times. Who could have imagined that China would champion globalisation and lead the battle on climate change? Or that post-Soviet Russia might present a greater threat to the world's stability than ISIS? And while we may be on the cusp of still more dramatic change, perhaps the risks will - in time - bring not only change but
a wholly positive transformation.