Customer Reviews


9 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ground-breaking work in practical ethics
This book is mighty in scope, and extremely ambitious, not to say courageous in its mission: an attempt to interpret, explain and learn from the moral failures of the twentieth century. I know of no other work which compares as an ethical analysis of history, especially from a writer as learned in modern ethical thinking. Covering topics of such enormity, Glover's...
Published on 20 Jan 2002

versus
14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but short of objective conclusions
This book apparently took ten years to write, and contains much that is thought-provoking. After an initial focus on philosophy (notably Nietzsche) the style of writing relaxes a little and becomes much easier to read. Glover catalogues for us the trends & emphases which influenced warfare and human rights during the 20th Century. His case-studies include: Vietnam,...
Published on 6 Mar 2001 by K. Moss


Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ground-breaking work in practical ethics, 20 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
This book is mighty in scope, and extremely ambitious, not to say courageous in its mission: an attempt to interpret, explain and learn from the moral failures of the twentieth century. I know of no other work which compares as an ethical analysis of history, especially from a writer as learned in modern ethical thinking. Covering topics of such enormity, Glover's analysis inevitably seems rather superficial at times. However, it shows the way forward for a pracitical philosophy and humane politics.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent, accessible and important book, 23 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
This is an important book and one that we all should read. The examination of the mentalities of Nazi perpetrators in particular is brimming with insight. Above all it is a call for philosophy to be of relevance to the ordinary world in which we live. And in its insistence that humour - particularly a sense of irreverance - and skepticism are two of the most important qualities individuals must display to protect the erosion of political freedoms, it is a work which does point the way we should go in this increasingly secular age. Buy it. Reading it will make you think.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars please read this book, 1 April 2009
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Ethical thinking at a serious level has gone out of fashion and we can only hope it will come back in. This book reviews the worst parts of the history of the last century to explore Jonathan Glover's question why and how the moral certainty of previous ages lost its force through the experience of world war, communist revolution, nazism and the local wars of the later century. Not everything is covered but the main movements and events are fully explored. Glover sets personal choice, and individual psychology, against the context of social and political forces with clarity and fairness. The book has the great merit of being neither remote nor inconclusive. There are ideas to take the theme forward. The one weakness is there is little discussion of the more successful parts of world development - where you find political stability and economic prosperity over decades - and why these have not contributed to clear ethical doctrines or thinking as a counter-balance and this is something very striking. However the book is so strong it must be read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theory by way of example, 4 Feb 2012
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Jonathan Glover's `Humanity' was a book ten years in the writing - and it's an impressive achievement; Glover luridly catalogues the twentieth century's worst atrocities in a hefty but accessible volume: My Lai, Cambodia, Hiroshima, Bosnia, Stalinism, Nazism, they're all there in sordid detail. Through differentiating between atrocities, he hopes to delineate the various factors which drive `normal' human beings to forsake morality and maim their fellow man. All of it consists in psychology -- and as such Glover points to the enormous psychological pressure exerted by tribalism, belief systems based on fear, belief systems based on tribalism and fear, as well as the achievement of industrialised combat in widening and blurring the distance between the agent and their victim(s). Moreover, he points to Nietzsche's hopeful prediction that society will move beyond the Judaeo-Christian paradigm of good and evil that so constrains the creative potential of individuals, and so arrive at an ethic free of morality.

A common criticism of this commendable project has been to point to the sheer scale of the catalogue, which, relative to the size of the book, can sometimes make Glover's analyses seem superficial. Up to a point this is true: Glover generally prioritises description over analysis, and as such undermines the consistency of his argument. Often, it appears as though he uses accounts of atrocities simply for shock value, when it would have perhaps been more appropriate to deepen his analyses. However, some critics have overlooked the fact that Glover's stated aim is "to give ethics an empirical dimension" by using "ethics to pose questions to history" and using "history to give a picture of the parts of human potentiality which are relevant to ethics". In other words, Glover is trying to identify what general trends within twentieth century history are applicable to ethics, and in this he is certainly successful. Granted, his analyses can be insubstantial, but the idea is to give a general picture to stimulate debate more than anything else.

If anything, `Humanity' would have benefitted from a little more clarity. Glover singles out Nietzsche as an ostensible inciter, pointing accusingly at the more grotesque features of Nietzschean thought as a foundation for what was to come. This holds true, similarly, for his brief assessment of Karl Marx. The easy response to this is to argue that Glover is trivialising his material, Nietzsche and Marx artisans of sophisticated, groundbreaking works that are far more elaborate and humane than Glover gives them credit for. But this isn't the point: what it seems to me that Glover is doing is formulating Nietzsche and Marx as they would have appeared to their shallow-minded, self-styled disciples, who plucked from context more incendiary passages and adapted them to their own ideologies.

More than anything, the book is a warning. Glover signposts twentieth century atrocities and identifies key trends so as to invite and invigorate debate. Perhaps `Humanity' does prioritise shock value over analysis, but since human beings are only really moved by that which horrifies them, Glover succeeds in what he set out to do: to shock, to anger, but to also lay the foundations for the reader to rationalise and understand the dark side of human behaviour.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book., 24 Aug 2010
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
This is an excellent book, well-written and logically argued. It's a book for anyone who has ever watched the news and asked themselves what kind of world we live in where some governments can support persecution and torture. Although the author describes and analyses the circumstances and factors that made the worst atrocities of the twentieth century possible, it is fundamentally an optimistic book. For example, as well as looking at the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the author also analyses what factors in Danish society resulted in a successful mass movement to save the Jewish population of Denmark from the Nazis and how the Italians often thwarted the plans of their supposed WWII allies. A fascinating analysis.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but depressing insight into the 20th century, 12 Mar 2014
By 
Garry Paton "Garry Paton" (Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
The author makes some very valid points into explaining the utter savagery of people in the 20th century. Although I found this book did make some accurate explanations and reasoning, needless to say, it made very depressing and upsetting reading at times.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars It's a must., 2 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
One of the best books ever written. Couldn't recommend it more highly. It encompasses the accuracy of history the evolution of philosophy and the beauty of ethics. Bound in a powerful way to make it the easiest read to date.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising, but short of objective conclusions, 6 Mar 2001
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
This book apparently took ten years to write, and contains much that is thought-provoking. After an initial focus on philosophy (notably Nietzsche) the style of writing relaxes a little and becomes much easier to read. Glover catalogues for us the trends & emphases which influenced warfare and human rights during the 20th Century. His case-studies include: Vietnam, WW1, WW2 Bombing of civilians, Hiroshima, the Nazi Genocide, Rwanda, Stalinist Russia, Cambodia and China. His treatment of these episodes makes compelling, if harrowing reading, and he demonstrates the apparent plasticity of human nature to allow participation in atrocity.
The book raises some very difficult questions, not least of which is the level of compliance of ordinary people in what most would regard as appalling abuses of human-rights. In Glover's thorough resume of history, only a few notable exceptions appear to have tried to go against the flow of the prevailing culture and we are left wondering what awful component of our makeup allows 'decent' human beings to participate in these horrors.
Unfortunately, Glover is unable to provide any workable solutions. Early in the book, he effectively sidelines the idea of a Moral Law (given us by our Creator) as being something of irrelevance or simply unviable in the present intellectual climate. He is therefore unable to provide us with an objective alternative (except for the vague idea of "Moral Imagination") which might prevent human beings from continuing such abuses. He is unable to provide any objective basis for the moral judgements he makes, apart from his own subjective set of standards. He is unable to view the future with anything more concrete than the theme-song from Monty-Python's "Life of Brian". In fact, his conclusions are similar to the intellectual discontinuity which he rightly observes amongst the British Communist Party at the time of WW2.
Read the book! It's a challenging work - but look objectively at his conclusions (or lack of them).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark & disturbing, but gripping, 26 July 2008
By 
This review is from: Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Glover's humanity is a highly accessible and equally balanced work on the history and morality of the 20th Century. Even though the book is ambitious in scope, Glover gives an accomplished account of the 20th century psychology that led to the Nazi genocide, Stalinism, Mao's Cultural Revolution & Cambodia's Killing Fields, amongst other 20th century atrocities.

Although part one is a little intense and heavy going, particularly to readers unfamiliar with the work of Nietzsche, this does not detract from the rest of the book which is both immensely readable and gripping.

Glover has attempted a unique melange of humanity, morality and historical fact and succeeded. Brilliant. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century
Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover (Paperback - 4 Jan 2001)
£16.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews