When C.M. Turnbull's A History of Singapore, 1819-1975 appeared in 1977, it quickly achieved recognition as the definitive history of Singapore. A second edition published in 1989 brought the story up to the elections held in 1988. In this fully revised edition, rewritten to take into account recent scholarship on Singapore, the author has added a chapter on Goh Chok Tong's premiership (1990-2004) and the transition to a government headed by Lee Hsien Loong. The book now ends in 2005, when the Republic of Singapore celebrated its 40th anniversary as an independent nation.
Major changes occurred in the 1990s as the generation of leaders that oversaw the transition from a colony to independence stepped aside in favour of a younger generation of leaders. Their task was to shape a course that sustained the economic growth and social stability achieved by their predecessors, and they would be tested towards the end of the decade when Southeast Asia experienced a severe financial crisis. Many modern studies on Singapore focus on current affairs or very recent events and pay a great deal of attention to Singapore's successful transition from the developing to the developed world. However, younger historians are increasingly interested in other aspects of the country's past, particularly social and cultural issues.
A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005 provides a solid foundation and an overarching framework for this research, surveying Singapore's trajectory from a small British port to a major trading and financial hub within the British Empire and finally to the modern city state that Singapore became after gaining independence in 1965.