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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought-provoking
The Decline of the West is the magnum opus of Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), a German historian and philosopher. In it, Spengler rejects the idea that the future of the West (or indeed of any culture) is an open-ended advance from the primitive past to an ever more glorious and expansive future. Instead, cultures (including the West) experience an almost organic history of...
Published on 10 April 2006 by Kurt A. Johnson

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Untouched by human hands
This disastrous kindle transcription has not been given even a cursory check before release. The character recognition software has problems interpreting the old-fashioned typeface, and this problem is already clearly evident from the first few pages. An extreme example of this problem is the translator's preface, I quote it as appears in the text: "In condasioD I aumoc...
Published on 12 Mar. 2013 by A. Wheeler


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought-provoking, 10 April 2006
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (North-Central Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Decline of the West is the magnum opus of Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), a German historian and philosopher. In it, Spengler rejects the idea that the future of the West (or indeed of any culture) is an open-ended advance from the primitive past to an ever more glorious and expansive future. Instead, cultures (including the West) experience an almost organic history of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
According to Spengler, the West moved out of its Summer period with the dawn of the nineteenth century, and into a Civilization phase. This phase is dominated by mega-cities, and money and atheism come into ascendance. And what lies in the future? Caesarism, and a long period of stagnation in the arts and sciences.
Now, the above summary is inevitably bound to be overly simplistic, even to the point of being misleading. The Decline of the West was originally published as two books, and it is a deep and erudite philosophical look at the history of the world, so any small summary is bound to be insufficient to do it justice.
Having heard this work referenced so many times, I decided to read it for myself. In fact, though it does present a deterministic view of history, it does not propose a West that is about to collapse and be swept into the dustbin of history (as some people want it to). In fact, this is a cogent, penetrating look at history, which certainly seems to accurately predict how the West has developed from the first book's initial publication in 1918.
Now, I must admit that like many scholarly books of the era, this one has a dense, thickly argued text that makes for some very heavy reading indeed. But, if you are willing to devote time to the reading of this book, and more time to digest what it has to say, you will be rewarded with one of the fascinating and thought-provoking look at the modern West. Are we at the End of History, or the end of the West? Read this book and find out.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging but Accessible.. with some effort, 11 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Decline of the West: 1 (Hardcover)
History ebbs and flows. The illusion that we are somehow at the 'end of history' and that civil organization and values as they now stand are beyond history's broader and deeper currents might be the great popular Myopia of our time. Spengler in this book has applied his voluminous knowledge and interpretive skills to the rise and fall of civilizations. Does the 'West' conform to the definition of a civilization in the age of global communications and entertainment? If so, are its prospects different than those of its predecessors? Schools no longer prepare the mainstream student for learning and argument at this level. Spengler's thesis hinges on the leading intellectual & aesthetic edges of the last 1000 years of our culture as compared to those of civilizations of antiquity, notably the Greco Roman.
There are scholarly contrasts to Spengler's study. William McNeill's 'Rise of the West' provides a direct challenge to many of its conclusions. Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' or Werner Jaeger's 'Paedeia' (on Greek classical culture) might be good comparative reference books, but these have now been relegated in public familiarity to dusty and esoteric academic departments. Spengler's work, however, falls squarely and uniquely into the realm of a great work of the Deist tradition of Western social philosophy, from which its reputation for skepticism comes. Its apparent mysticism emanates from the deep investigation into the intellectual attitude of the Western mind. There are, of course, other traditions in the 'Western' mix which have broad and predictive implications. This opus should not be misconstrued of as a work of pessimism. Constructive action and faith are, in fact, its basis for the prospect of vigorous and sustained regeneration of the human cause.
This is an exacting study. It requires a critical attitude to penetrate and to see that it has a fundamentally human and hopeful (and debatable) message. Decline of the West does in fact provide drama, grandeur, context and understanding to the sweep of history. It is accessible, though, to the determined general reader and constitutes a significant contribution to 20th Century thought. Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Untouched by human hands, 12 Mar. 2013
By 
A. Wheeler (Newport, South Wales) - See all my reviews
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This disastrous kindle transcription has not been given even a cursory check before release. The character recognition software has problems interpreting the old-fashioned typeface, and this problem is already clearly evident from the first few pages. An extreme example of this problem is the translator's preface, I quote it as appears in the text: "In condasioD I aumoc omit to put on record the part that my wife, Hannah Waller Atkiosoo, has taken in the work of translation and editing. I may best dcKiibe it by takiog that it ought perhaps to have been record in the title pife iottead of in this place." Clearly this is a kindle version to avoid.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A flawed gem, 17 Sept. 2003
Despite its many and obvious flaws, Decline of the West is still a book to cherish, for the poetry of the prose as much as for the dazzling array of ideas served up here. I would love to be able to give this marvellous work a full five stars but I just do not think that, in full conscience, I could do so. The principal flaw, and the crucial one since it really undermines the whole work, is his over reliance on organic metaphors which lead to the whole work being overdetermined. It is palpably obvious that different civilisations have suffered different fates and though certain parallels can be drawn between them at this level they simply cannot be sustained. There is little room here for the accidental and contingent and the idea that a civilisation should die simply of old age, given that its basic substance, man, is perpetually self regenerating. Also he deals with civilisations with exceptional independence except where there interrelations have been especially disastrous as in Mexico.
The contrast between the modern West and classical antiquity can be highly instructive, Spengler is not the first to see analogies between the Atlantic and the Adriatic, but he takes it too far. One can perhaps see Adolf Hitler as the archetype of Caesarism and the current Pax Americana as the universal state of the Augustan age. Despite these superficial similarities the differences are still innumerable not least that America remains a republic, its incipient plutocracy still falls far short of dictatorship. His equation of Alexander with Napoleon is pure fantasy and where are the Classical equivalents of the Reformation and Renaissance? And ultimately how can a civilisation in such serious decline have been able to the greatest technological, economic and social, if not cultural, achievements in all of human history.
So how does it deserve four stars? Well even if its ultimate conclusions are fallacious many of his incidental observations and expositions are fascinating, especially those dealing with the pre-Islamic Middle East. The complicated yet hugely significant millennium that elapsed between Alexander the Great and Mohammed is so often ignored that to have it dealt with at all is highly refreshing. Spengler's analysis of these developments certainly ring a lot truer then do those of the supposed empiricist, Toynbee. When dealing with the past at all, as most of the book does, Spengler's prose is not only beautiful but sparkles with insight and intellectual verve. It is only when he turns prophet that he begins to lose tack a little, as is always the fate of the futurist.
Decline of the West is more a work of metaphysics then it is of history and if it does not belong directly to the school of German idealism then it is certainly heir to it, I was amazed that Hegel only gets one outside mention though Nietzsche fares considerably better. His principal tool of approach is that of culture which is approached metaphysically as its 'Soul'. The soul of the west is described by the neologism Faustian (Spengler now showing his debt to Goethe and the romantics, all in all this is an extremely German book) and has as its defining feature its emphasis on the infinite. This is contrasted with the souls of various different civilisations that have existed from time to time.
This is a rich approach and Spengler mines it for all its worth unearthing many treasures. This is the main business of the book and so much of it is so wonderful and so originally creative that it quite takes the breath away. His take on the Reformation particularly was quite stunningly perceptive.
For all that it ultimately fails to deliver Decline of the West remains an important text and one that provides the reader with a vastly improved mental framework for assessing the current trajectory of our great civilisation. Spengler does make one wonder as well why the West's post war social and economic achievements have so manifestly not been mirrored in the realm of culture and makes one wonder what the secularisation and extreme atomisation that has resulted from increased commercialisation means for the future of our social advancement. The truth is that a certain version of the west, the old Faustian souls perhaps that found refuge in Gothic Cathedrals, is in fact dying, stifled in a world that it has created but cannot find a place within. We live in a time of immense flux on a truly global scale as we try to refashion a global society, a hypercivilisation, out of the detritus of empire. We live in unparalleled times and what the outcome will be no one can possibly tell. Spengler remains an excellent guide to how we got to where we are and in helping make sense of the post modern culture that surrounds us. I just hope he's wrong about the centuries of impending warfare that's all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the philosopher of the 21st century, 17 Feb. 2014
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Imagine Friedrich Nietzsche but less bat sh.t crazy and more coherent. Indeed, Spengler writes like his hero's, Nietzsche and Goethe and he is probably as clever as both men. Now don't be put off that Oswald Spengler looks like a baddie from a James Bond film. Spengler is not a baddie; he is a very clever man. I haven't read all of this whopping two volumes but already I have spotted Kuhn's scientific revolutions idea in her, a few decades in advanced of Kuhn. Do you see what I mean by clever?

Spengler is comparing our world with the ancient and comparing differences. He writes that at the end of a civilisation, the brightest people can't be bothered participating in politics anymore, and so the mediocrities get into power. Does this sound familiar?

Here in another clever insight that got me thinking. Many people today are moaning about the declining birth-rate of white people and the fact that professional couples worry and way up the pros and cons before they jump into bed. When Spengler wrote the Decline, the Germans were breeding like rabbits. Spengler predicted that in a few decades, Westerners will be weighing up the pros and cons and that this is suicide. It has come true!

These are loads of fancy insights on all this historical comparison idea and that idea of different souls embodying different peoples really slots the pieces together. Spengler imagined that the Faustian soul was the pinnacle. Today we know that we are at the birth of the digital soul. So Spengler was called an old pessimist historian by the academics, unbeknownst to them that Oswald Spengler was really predicting the coming of the digital soul and the age of the global village.

Spengler was also a philosopher and his musings of time and space is excellent, though I am no way qualified to judge. True to their jealous nature, the academics attacked like piranhas, snipping bits out of the giant's body. So even if Spengler isn't a water tight compartment, neither was Nietzsche. Spengler is an artist churning out juicy morsels for creative people to chew on and enjoy. Like I mentioned above, he can write like the best and so he if fun to read.
Academics only call him a historian to drag him down to their envious puddle. They call Spengler a historian but lesser thinkers have been given the once exulted title of `philosopher', Oswald Spengler is a philosopher like Heidegger and Sartre and all those incoherent guys we are forced to read in university.

So what is the book about? Imagine a thinker who is versed in many fields and moulds the similarities together and, like an artist, makes a fancy insight?

SO by the West, Spengler didn't mean the USA, mortgage arrears and the bombing of brown babies. Rather, Spengler is writing about the Faustian soul representing the Western psychology and this Western phycology has evaporated. This truth was shocking 100 years ago, but not today. This is why it's called Google Search rather than Oracle at Delphi search. The people who thought up the name `Google' did not have the Faustian spirit inside them. The Google people were possessed with the digital soul. This is Spengler's insight, not mine.

Today we all know that we are at the beginning of the digital age. Spengler's book predicted the Internet then! Check out the essay, `Is Google Making Us Stupid', and the book by the same author, The Shallows. In that book, the author is basically saying the same thing as Spengler. The digital individual can no longer think deeply, like the Faustian, but is spread out vast, like a pancake. This is true. Spengler's book is a whopping 2 Volume set. Who has the time to read all that and absorb it? Apparently those Germans were smart but if we are clicking away on our technology, and hyperlinking and reading all sorts, then we will struggle to concentrate on a meaty volume like Decline of the West. This is also a Spenglerian insight.

Anyway, even if all this is romantic nonsense, Oswald Spengler can write like Nietzsche and his book is utterly bind blowing.

SO I highly recommend this book! Oh and don't bother reading the abridged version. I read the introduction and the guy who wrote it is a typical envious historian who thinks that Oswald Spengler is a mere historian!!!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for the Ages, 8 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Decline of the West: 1 (Hardcover)
Dr. Spengler's book has gotten a bad rap. It's blamed for sending the blitzkrieg on its path of conquest or it's trivialized as an arcane and skeptical view of society without modern utility. It is fair to say it is a highly speculative interpretation of history, which identifies an organic psychology common to all members of a given civilization. It is not an inbred archetype per se, but an iterative internalization of the modes and beliefs of a given culture which manifests itself in a civilization's aesthetic forms and symbols. These abstract elements are the main topic of this book. The book has been said to have been born of pessimism, but this too is bad rap. The fact that all epochs have their birth, golden ages and decline has never really been in dispute. The sheer precision by which Spengler has articulated the nature and characteristics of any given period in the life of a culture, and, has anticipated the paths of modern physics and modern arts can be disconcerting. Each annihilation, however, has instigated a rebirth of a new refreshed culture, operating at higher levels of understanding and technology. This book was written in the late teens and early twenties of this century, contemporaneously with those other great speculative works of Freud and Jung. It is in this illustrious company that Spengler belongs. All have a different emphasis but their subject is this peculiar and exotic mixture of history, literature, society, psychology and philosophy. The fact that all these authors have received a share of discredit in the latter part of the century in no way limiting to the intellectual force, profound effect and importance these books have.. to our civilization.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, moving, timeless,, 9 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
The definitive work outlining what the "West" has to look forward to. However, this time, the "rebirth" may not bring forth a high civilization, but a primitive one, living in the aftermath of total warfare.
People living in the West, and particularly America, would do well to read this moving piece of literature. It might help dispell once and for all the casual attitude which assumes that "this" is infinite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Atrocious edition., 22 Mar. 2013
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Save your money. Each page of this kindle edition is scanned directly from the original book, meaning that you are extremely limited in how far you can zoom in to the text. Many readers will find the tiny font size unreadable. You can't underline/take note of anything either, so it's useless for any academic purposes (you can, however, see where the owner of the original book has made their notes.)

Seriously. Don't bother.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Germanic genius, 9 Aug. 2011
Yesterday as I watched London burning on the news, with riots spreading across the UK, whilst the world economy was collapsing and China was scolding the USA for it's inability to manage it's debt my thoughts drifted to Spengler. As we observe the rising power of millions of millenarian theocrats who now have a real chance to take the highest political office in the world's only superpower I am reading 2666 by Roberto Bollano, which explores the savage state of northern Mexico which is being torn apart by gang warfare of a level of brutality we haven't seen since the days of the likes of the Mongol hordes. I don't know if reading Spengler years ago has so effected my world view that I see things through the prism of his vision, but it certainly seems to me that we are living through the decline of the west.
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5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best Kindle version, 10 May 2013
The free and nearly-free Kindle versions of this book are, sadly, all but unusable, so if you want it, this is the one to go for. It is nicely typeset and formatted, and has an interactive table of contents.

It appears to be the original English translation, the one still generally in use. It is very much straight from the German and not as natural as it might be in English; for instance

"In this book is attempted for the first time the venture of predetermining history"

could so easily have been rendered, instead, as

"In this book the venture of predetermining history is attempted for the first time"

This is a pity, as it is a difficult enough work anyway without having to struggle with the language. However, I doubt there is enough of a potential readership to justify a new translation, so this is what we've got.

All things considered a very reasonable price; grateful thanks to the publishers.
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