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Conquests and Cultures: An International History Paperback – 9 Apr 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (9 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465014003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465014002
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 July 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a showpiece blending of geography and history. The author takes the reader to different places on earth at various periods in time and shows how the intermingling of cultures influences the future of mankind. We are shown the tribal conditions existing in Britain during the time of the Romans. Once on the isle we see that the geographic proximity of coal and ore will make Britain a leading economic force.
Traveling to Russia, the importance of the location of natural resources is reinforced. Russia's resources are great distances apart and in difficult to reach areas. This requires additional shipping for final refining. Further, in-spite of its size, Russia lacks adequate access to international shipping areas. This shipping disadvantage exists for a country so massive that 25 percent of it accounts for more than half of Europe.
One of the most absorbing chapters deals with the continent of Africa. Here the reader is taken to the height of the central part of the continent which is about 5,000 feet above sea level, and follows the untapped majesty of the Zaire River. We find that the Zaire has a volume of water second only to the Amazon, however its rapids and waterfalls are unique. The river is 2,900 miles long and drops 1,000 feet in its last 250 miles, while the Amazon falls only 20 feet in its last 500 miles.
One question not brought forward by the author is the potential energy which the people of Africa could receive from tapping into the power of the Zaire. Possibly the current ethnic conditions on the continent prohibit using the power of the river for the benefit of the African people. Regardless of its majestic beauty, Africa was a financial drain on the people of Europe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 42 reviews
71 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Triumphant panorama of conquests of culture 6 Jun. 2002
By Peter Lorenzi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkably thorough, well-researched work on major regions and civilizations around the world -- African, Aztec, Inca, Slav, (bative) American Indian. Sowell documents the case of how geography (harbors, arable land, navigable rivers, freedom from monsoons and tropical disease) and ideas (fundamental beliefs and principles widely shared or disseminated) combine to make the world what it is today.
"Culture" triumphs if it is sustainable and based on a credible concept that can be embraced by others. Other "cultures" fail or disappear when they are conquered by more dominant cultures or collapse from within due to a fundamental weakness or failure to transmit the culture across people and generations.
Much like David Landes' "Wealth and poverty of nations", Sowell shows that societies or cultures that can produce things of value, that educate their young, that innovate, and that encourage personal freedom, initiative, private ownership and advancement based on merit, these cultures are more likely to survive.
Sowell dispels myths about racism, diversity and the equality of all cultures. His research is encyclopedic and well-documented.
An excellent book for a university course on culture, diversity and global development.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, Succinct, Germane! 27 Dec. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's always delightful to read cogent, well-thought-out and carefully written books. This is no exception, as Dr. Sowell continues to apply a broad education and extensive experience to derive insights that, once made, are startlingly clear and obvious.
Unlike several of the prior reviewers, who seem to feel that their unworkable personal ideology or limited ability to think actually have relevance in a review, I read this book to gain information and insights supported by impeccable research from an intelligent source. It may offend those with little or no education or experience, because it does not run along the same track as their favorite hobby horse(s), but then, reality and truth rarely do. (i.e., if you don't like accurate statistics, nor agree with a sequenced and relevant protrayal of factual information, don't read this book. It might upset any sense of "oughta be this way", or "I wanna believe X -- in contrast to actual events").
Dr. Sowell's insistence on his statements having a factual basis and extensive examples to support his conclusions can be daunting, nonetheless, as with any exercise (mental or physical, for that matter), the more effort you put into something, the greater the result.
Highly recommended, as are all of his books.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is a good book 22 Jan. 2009
By Lemas Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I can't think of anything that I've read like it before or since.

Essentially, it does the job of filling in some of the details about what happened after some of the conquests of one group by another. It was not a text that evaluated whether conquests were "good" or "bad," but about the actual results of what happened. For example: He details at some length the differing responses to colonization of Irish and Scottish people (the former didn't take to it well while the latter did). This is something that goes a long way to explaining why Ireland became a separate country and Scotland stayed part of the Kingdom.

It was well worth reading because it gave CONCRETE information about what actually happened in many of these cases rather than babbling about "colonial powers" or "rights of self determination."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
several topics in one book 7 Dec. 2006
By it - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has several threads that interact.

One is that the geography of a country has a strong effect on its history. The western hemisphere did not have beasts of burden until Europeans arrived and therefore stayed in a primitive culture. England had iron ore near coal and both near the seacoast which provided cheap transportation.

Another thread is that some cultures learn from contact with other cultures and some do not. Scotland was invaded by England and when the English left Scotland outclassed the English in engineering and medicine even thought they were behind in the beginning. Earlier the Romans invaded England and improved conditions. When the Romans left the English retrograded for centuries.

Another thread is that human nature is the same all over the earth. All nations have dominated other nations and mistreated them.
36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Stings have no venom. 7 April 2004
By Craig Spinharney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Despite their best efforts, those who reviewed this book negatively or dismissed it as "been there, done that" expose that either their own preconceived notions ran afoul with Sowell's book. Or, their sacred cows were stripped down to expose the cheap hamburger of ideas.
As usual Sowell writes another well-crafted, researched, and documented book. He makes NO conclusions but rather, lets his reader form their own conclusions.
As evidenced by the fact that none of the so called "Politically Incorrect" panel shows NEVER invited Sowell on because no one on the left can counter Sowell's ease of analysis and myth-shattering and that includes lofty lefties like Hitchens, Chomsky, Schlesinger, and Cockburn...so goes the list of those who rail at the idea of a free-thinking minority having the audacity to stray from the Liberal Plantation (Not that Sowell was ever on the plantation in the first place).
A good measured read with plenty to challenge the reader (who doesn't wear idealogical blinders). A good book to add to your library.
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