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Why The West Rules For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future [Hardcover]

Ian Morris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Review

This is a great work of synthesis and argument, drawing together an awesome range of materials and authorities to bring us a fresh, sharp reading of East-West relationships. As China rises and the world's population spikes, Morris weaves lessons from thousands of years of world history towards a startling and scary conclusion. (Andrew Marr)

Deeply thought-provoking and engagingly lively, broad in sweep and precise in detail. (Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of Modern China, former Editor of The Observer and former Editor of the South China Morning Post)

The nearest thing to a unified field theory of history we are ever likely to get. With wit and wisdom, Ian Morris deploys the techniques and insights of the new ancient history to address the biggest of all historical questions: Why on earth did the West beat the Rest? I loved it. (Niall Ferguson)

Ian Morris is a classical archaeologist, an ancient historian and a writer of such breathtaking vision and scope as to make him fit to be ranked alongside the likes of Jared Diamond and David Landes. His magnum opus is a tour not just d'horizon but de force, taking us as it does on a spectacular journey to and from and many points between the two nodal cores of a euramerican West and a far east Asian East, alighting and reflecting as suggestively upon 10,800 BC as upon AD 2010. The shape of globalizing history may well never be quite the same again. 'So what', he asks himself and us? The answer can only be - a very great deal indeed. (Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge)

At last - a brilliant historian with a light touch. We should all rejoice. (John Julius Norwich)

Here you have three books wrapped into one: an exciting novel that happens to be true; an entertaining but thorough historical account of everything important that happened to any important people in the last 10 millennia; and an educated guess about what will happen in the future. Read, learn, and enjoy! (Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography, UCLA, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, and Natural Experiments of History)

Ian Morris has returned history to the position it once held. No longer a series of dusty debates, nor simple stories - although he has many stories to tell and tells them brilliantly - but the true 'magister vitae' - the 'teacher of life'. He explains how the shadowy East-West divide came about, why it really does matter, and how one day it might end up. His vision is dazzling, and his prose irresistible. Everyone from Sheffield to Shanghai who wants to know, not only how they came to be who and where

they are, but where their children and their children's children might one day end up, must read this book.'

(Anthony Pagden, distinguished professor of political science and history at the University of California, Los Angeles, author of ‘Worlds and War: The 2,500 Year Struggle Between East and West’)

This is an astonishing work by Ian Morris: hundreds of pages of the latest information dealing with every aspect of change. Then, the questions of the future: What will a new distribution bring about? Will Europe undergo a major change? Will the millions of immigrants impose a new set of rules on the rest? There was a time when Europe could absorb any and all newcomers. Now the newcomers may dictate the terms. The West may continue to rule, but the rule may be very different. (David S. Landes, author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations)

A formidable, richly engrossing effort to determine why Western institutions dominate the world . . . Readers will enjoy [Morris's] lively prose and impressive combination of scholarship . . . with economics and science. A superior contribution to the grand-theory-of-human-history genre (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Morris' history of world dominance sparkles as much with exotic ideas as with extraordinary tales. 'Why The West Rules - For Now' is both a riveting drama and a major step towards an integrated theory of history. (Richard Wrangham)

A remarkable book that may come to be as widely read as Paul Kennedy's 1987 work, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers ... this is an important book-one that challenges, stimulates and entertains. Anyone who does not believe there are lessons to be learned from history should start here. (The Economist)

Morris' new book illustrates perfectly why one really scholarly book about the past is worth a hundred fanciful works of futurology. Morris is the world's most talented ancient historian, a man as much at home with state of- the-art archaeology as with the classics as they used to be studied. Here, he has brilliantly pulled off what few modern academics would dare to attempt: a single-volume history of the world that offers a bold and original answer to the question, Why did the societies that make up "the West" pull ahead of "the Rest" not once but twice, and most spectacularly in the modern era after around 1500? Wearing his impressive erudition lightly - indeed, writing with a wit and clarity that will delight the lay reader - Morris uses his own ingenious index of social development as the basis for his answer.

...

Precisely because he has such a profound understanding of the ways that culture, technology, and geography interact over the very long run, Morris is better qualified than almost anyone else to answer the final question he asks: Is the world heading for "the Singularity" - a technological quantum leap beyond our traditional limitations as a species - or for a disastrous nightfall brought on by climate change, famine, state failure, mass migration, pandemic disease, and nuclear war? Readers will find nothing better on the subject than his final, mind-blowing chapter.

(Niall Ferguson Foreign Affairs)

A provocative and extraordinary contribution to wide-screen comparative history ... a true banquet of ideas (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

Perhaps the smartest and sanest guide to the 21st Century so far (South China Morning Post 2010-10-31)

Morris handles huge ideas and transglobal theories with a breathtaking ease and humour (Artemis Cooper Evening Standard)

Why the West Rules for Now marshalls enormous historical evidence for how geography influences imbalanced between West and East (The Australian 2010-12-01)

A path-breaking work that lays out what modern history should look like. (Financial Times)

Book Description

Why does the West rule? Eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing uniquely on 20,000 years of history and archaeology, and the methods of social science.

About the Author

Born and educated in Britain, Ian Morris is Willard Professor of Classics, Professor of History and a fellow of the Archaeology Centre at Stanford University. He has written and edited a number of academic books, most recently The Greeks and The Ancient Economy and has appeared on a number of television networks, including the History Network and PBS. This is his first trade book.
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