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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
A.C. Grayling's 'Towards the Light' is a historical overview of the development of human rights and liberal thinking in Western Civilization. Things begin with the reformation. Grayling's points out the liberal views of Castellio and Erasmus but then also shows that the likes of Luther and Calvin were - in some respects - Christianity's version of the Taliban. This may...
Published on 15 May 2011 by Alex Ireland

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt
Although this book overpromises, it's still a fine canter down the path which brought us to where we are today in terms of freedom of thought, speech and a few others.

If you are looking for detailed analysis, or balanced history then this book is likely to disappoint - it would be a rare feat to capture 500 years of nuanced development in 300 pages...
Published on 19 Jun. 2009 by Matter


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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pitifully ordinary, no deep knowledge, brushes aside vast crimes - paid mediocrity,, 16 Jun. 2009
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Rerevisionist (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
I found this in a second-hand bookshop; the hardback jacket design is in the style of an 18th century 'notice'. Grayling, incredibly, is apparently a professor at Birkbeck, which, admittedly, has a second-rate reputation. A single volume outlining the progress of 'liberty' could be valuable; this book is trash.

What is it that makes this book such a disaster? It's difficult to review unresisting imbecility ((c) Dr Johnson) so I'll fall back on bullet points, hoping the cumulative ballistic impact will influence the readership here:-

**Slavery. Grayling says 'Slavery itself was abolished in New York in 1799...' (p. 170), an absolute gem of pure absurdity. Grayling doesn't know that slavery existed widely - no doubt because machinery hadn't been invented; he doesn't know Muslim slavery exceeded in numbers and viciousness anything from the 'west'; he doesn't seem to know slavery still exists and must increase.

**Genocide. Grayling doesn't mention and probably doesn't know about (for example) the Belgian Congo, Armenia, Vietnam - where millions died. Only Jews matter to Grayling, an absolutely consummate racist posiiton. Grayling has no comprehension of the tokenism of Nuremberg - he seems to imagine it was a genuine trial.

**Absolutism. Again - no surprise - Louis is presented as 'absolute' - and yet at the same time not being able to enforce his will! Luckily Grayling is too stupid to see the obvious contradiction here.

**Europe. Page 10 says: 'the Czech Republic returned to its rightful place in the heart of Europe by joining the European Union in 2004'. Well - if the EU represents it in some 'rightful' way, this would be true. But if not - and of course the EU is the opposite of an organisation devoted to liberty - the sentence is laughable.

**Grayling quotes and mentions the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' with no idea of its deep insincerity; what about the rights of Germans expelled from eastern Germany - millions died? What about Biafrans? Vietnamese? Cambodians?

**Grayling quotes the so-called 'Russian Revolution', in fact a coup by Jews, or rather people who thought they were Jews, as though it has something to do with 'liberty'.

**It's probably not to be expected that Grayling could have any grasp of technology. If oil runs out, will slavery return? Would that be 'bad'? Will populations crash? Will 'rights' be maintained, if so?

Grayling is like Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, blinking owlishly, rewarded by historical accident for unthinkingly repeating the obsolete lies and propaganda of past and present hacks. Grayling, just like Williams, may continue to collect cheques until he dies, not because he thinks, but because he doesn't. But then again, he may not.
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Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty and Rights That Made the Modern West
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