- Paperback: 768 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (4 Aug. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846682088
- ISBN-13: 978-1846682087
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 80 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Why the West Rules - for Now: The Patterns of History and What They Reveal about the Future Paperback – 4 Aug 2011
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A provocative and extraordinary contribution to wide-screen comparative history... a true banquet of ideas (Boyd Tonkin Independent)
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 (Economist)
Perhaps the smartest and sanest guide to the twenty-first century so far (South China Morning Post)
One doffs one's hat to Morris's breadth, ambition and erudition (Paul Kennedy Sunday Times)
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 (Niall Ferguson Foreign Affairs)
Morris handles huge ideas and transglobal theories with a breathtaking ease and humour (Artemis Cooper Evening Standard, Books of the Year)
[an] enjoyable and thought-provoking book (Nicholas Shakespeare Telegraph)
A lucid thinker and a fine writer (New York Times)
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)
At last - a brilliant historian with a light touch. We should all rejoice. (John Julius Norwich)
Why does the West rule? Eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing uniquely on 15,000 years of history and archaeology, and the methods of social science.See all Product description
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That's what this book mainly does. For me, the East vs. West thing is a lesser part of the story. Here is a book that tells the tale of humanity, from monkey to cyborg. A book that connects history into a joined-up narrative.
It explains how human drives interacted with the environment - climate, geography, resources - to create the various institutions and lifestyles that characterized each different civilization. It shows how progress sows the seeds of trouble for itself, how development often hits a 'ceiling' and falls back several times until a specific innovation in technology or politics can break through.
When reading it I had alternate feelings of astounding luck and ominous dread:
Luck to be living at this time, when most of history is filled with violence, hardship, disease and oppression. (I lost count of the cumulative death toll from these causes, but it definitely runs into the billions)
Dread at what the author predicts for the future, where development is accelerating at an exponential rate, and a gentle leveling-off just isn't going to happen (it never does). It's techno-utopia or bust (really big bust, loads more billions dead).
If traditional history books aren't really for you then don't be put off. This is well worth the read for anyone who is interested in sociology, politics, technology or anthropology (in fact it may make you want to learn more about these subjects and to link them in your mind).
It's much more about trends and causality than about great individual characters - in fact it downplays individual greatness and ego, stating that each age inevitably generates the people and thought that it needs.
I really enjoyed it and would recommend.
The book would benefit from more detail about the rise of the Indian subcontinent and where it's role stood in between Europe and China to complete the historical narrative and whether it is more within the European or Indian sphere!
The final chapter on where the future of mankind is headed was not particularly insightful although contained some interesting theories. Writing this "post-brexit" I hope the author is wrong about his theory on "nightfall"!
It is particularly useful for a history amateur like me as it is so comprehensive and also describes in parallel what is happening in China, and the Middle East, and elsewhere.. So I get a sense of chronology which I didn't have previously.
While the biases of the author are all too visible, I disgree with some of his conclusions and I find the book rather Americo-centric it is a very valuable compendium of facts which allow readers to make up their own minds.
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