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on 28 April 2009
"Tragedy and Hope" is a sprawling history of the world during approximately the period 1890-1960. If one is looking for the details of some half-forgotten international incident during this period, he is likely to find them somewhere in this book. Reading "Tragedy and Hope" is a good refresher course for anyone wishing to understand twentieth-century history, especially the two World Wars, the events leading up to them, and their consequences. Unfortunately the index is sketchy and not always helpful in this process. Furthermore, footnotes and a bibliography are entirely lacking. Although the author, Carroll Quigley, was an eminent academic, this is not an academic textbook, and it is hard to tell just what was its intended audience.

The archetype of "Tragedy and Hope" is the work of Procopius, a courtier in the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, whose official history, the " De Aedificiis," celebrated the accomplishments of his monarch - but who supplemented it with a secret history, the "Anecdota," in which he spilled the dirt on the emperor and his wife Theodora. Much of the interest in Quigley's book centers around his dirt-spilling account of the machinations of international bankers and of the organizations they formed to exert influence behind-the-scenes on political and diplomatic activity, such as the Round Table, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations. While his discussion of these matters occupies a fairly small number of the book's 1300-odd pages, it has drawn the attention of so-called "conspiracy theorists," mostly on the political right (e.g. the John Birch Society) but also some on the left, such as the sociologist G. William Domhoff, who pursue much the same theme - that the domestic and international policy of the United States (and other countries) are manipulated by a "power élite" in a way that makes their supposed democracy largely a sham.

Quigley falls neither into the right- or left-wing camps, and was in fact a liberal internationalist who held views essentially sympathetic to those of the supposed conspirators. He did, however, object to the secretiveness with which they pursued their goals. His book went out of print after its first run despite popular demand. He attributed this to an attempt to suppress it by the forces he "exposed," which have been paranoia on his part, or evidence of an easily bruised academic ego - but certainly encouraged the conspiratorial view among others. Bill Clinton's public acknowledgment of Carroll Quigley as his mentor touched off renewed conspiratorial theorizing.

A broad view of human societies can do nothing but confirm the truth that élites are and have always been an inevitable feature of them all. That there has been an élite in western Europe and North America, made up of a mixture of financiers, industrialists, high-ranking government officials, and the social upper crust; and that this élite has exerted an influence disproportionate to its numbers, should hardly come as a surprise. If all these people were to have been eliminated in one fell swoop, they would simply have been replaced by another élite, differently constituted and differently motivated. What Quigley makes clear is that the élite he describes acted with a curious blend of altruism, self-interest, and often, naïveté. Their best-laid plans many times were based on misinformation and came disastrously a-cropper. The impression one gets is more often one of bumbling rather than of sinister genius.

Two points emerge from Quigley's presentation of this history. First is that he believes in the rule of experts - that people with proper knowledge and understanding (like his) would not have committed the errors he describes. Academics and professionally-trained managers are to be preferred to members of the big business haute-bourgeoisie and the decaying landed aristocracy. This book first appeared in the era of "the best and the brightest," and Quigley shows himself to be a creature of its zeitgeist. How ironic that managerial bureaucrats of the Robert McNamara type proceeded to steer us into the Vietnam quagmire and "stagflation"!

Second, one of Quigley's repeated strictures on the old Eastern establishment is that it was "Anglophile." It is important to understand what this meant at the time the establishment described by Quigley was in its ascendancy. Then the sun never set on the British empire, and London was the world's financial center. New York was the American satellite of that sun, and exerted a degree of financial dominance over the rest of the United States we have not experienced in many years. There was, in the great American heartland, a strong suspicion of this arrangement, as expressed by such conservative figures as Sen. Robert Taft and Col. Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. This view is most superfically and inadequately dismissed as "isolationism." Much of the history Quigley recounts suggests that the United States entered World War I as a result of the Anglophilia of the Eastern establishment, and the conclusion to which that war came as a consequence of American intervention set the stage for World War II. Although this in many ways confirms the suspicions of the "isolationists," Quigley cannot bring himself to say anything good about such unspeakable Midwestern yokels and hayseeds. Yet he does not approve of the "Anglophilia" of the Eastern establishment.

How much of Quigley's point of view was determined not by his academic studies but by something much closer to the heart - his identity as an Irish Catholic? From his office on the Georgetown campus he looked to the west and saw hordes of unwashed Methodists and Baptists, disgusting to his Roman Catholic sensibilities; Norman Rockwell America, but with Klan robes in its closet. Looking to his east he saw the hated Sassenach, hereditary enemy of the Irish, allied to an "Anglophile" and Protestant - mainly Episcopalian - eastern-seaboard American establishment that aped English manners and tastes. He could not stomach either group, and so he wrote this book. as we find from the elites best
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on 25 October 2012
Quigley's Tragedy and Hope is a very important historical work describing the intrigues of powerful financial and industrial interests aiming to dominate the world. His description of world-changing historical facts and events is without doubt one of his many strong points.

Among weak points are some important lacunae, e.g., the extensive chapter on international Socialism fails to investigate the links between the latter and the financial interests described earlier.

Another point is Quigley's personal interpretation of historical events, e.g., he attempts to explain social and political developments like the rise of German nationalism in terms of an alleged "German thirst for the coziness of a totalitarian way of life" that of course ignores the fact that nationalism - on the ascendance in most European countries at the time - was largely a reaction to internationalist movements like Socialism threatening the sovereignty and identity of all European nations.

I found that some of these points are helpfully addressed in The Milner-Fabian Conspiracy by Ioan Ratiu.
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on 29 April 2010
Well written book, very informative and eye opening. It may not be particularly regarded as 'exciting' to read if you are looking for a thriller. This is a historical account of the events that have shaped our western society from an 'insider' point of view, and also an educational book with regards to the history of global finance and western civilisation.
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on 11 June 2013
History of the past two centuries, has in the main been driven by the concealed ambitions of a controlling elite.

This book provides credible explanation of elite's perspective for control ,transforming the apparently random events of the past into a picture of directed and self serving, happenings. Providing a logical explanation of the motivations behind the actions that mold history.
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on 30 April 2011
I'm not exactly sure. Professor Quigley apparently spent about 3 centuries writing this doorstep, and after spending about half a century reading it and going through my very own "Tragedy & Hope" in the process I really did wonder "what exactly was the point of all that?" at the end of it. The tragedy lay in the fact that I read beyond the first third, about up until the point the author stopped telling the truth; from then on I just hoped there would come a point when he would deviate from the "party line" to stop me falling asleep - I didn't want this thing falling on the floor. In a book of this size, which purports to tell the real truth about recent history, you'd expect a fairly extensive bibliography and oodles of chapter or footnotes. But you'd be disappointed. There aren't any.

The overall theme of Tragedy & Hope is a sweeping overview of the last couple of centuries of world history, examining not only what happened but why it happened and what factors led to the development of nations and situations up to certain crucial points in time. The author was, supposedly, at least a semi-insider (he was apparently a tutor of Bill Clinton, don'tcha know?!) and because of that Tragedy & Hope has often been referred to by "conspiracy" authors, as well as mainstream authors who want to be seen to be open-minded. However, after a fairly accurate if sterile recounting of the financial and political history of the first half of the 18th century, including a fairly detailed synopsis of the rise of the House of Rothschild (the most common subject referenced by other works) and the author's acknowledgement that they were without doubt the world's pre-eminent financial power, he eventually arrives at a point at which J.P. Morgan has become the world's richest man. Professor Quigley was obviously ignorant of the fact that at the reading of J.P. Morgan's will it was discovered that he (J.P. Morgan) owned only 19% of J.P. Morgan stock. The rest was owned by, well, you can work it out. Oddly enough Professor Quigley had earlier recounted how the Morgans/Peabodys were originally Rothschild agents/affiliates. Did he forget this?

Professor Quigley also ignores the now well-established ties between Wall Street and Bolshevism, Nazism, and various other flavours of socialism (including Rooseveltian New Deal socialism which the good professor should surely know a lot more about). As modern history has shown us all too clearly, there is nothing new in warring factions and "rogue states" being supplied with weapons by most of the major "advanced" western nations, in the well-documented ties between "statesmen" and "terrorists" (George Bush/Bin Laden family is an obvious modern example), and in state intervention and the imposition of mostly-unpopular puppet regimes all over the less-developed world. These practises are the norm, rather than the exception, and have been for a long time. Yet the author ignores some of the more (ok, most of the) significant interventions by the money power in recent history. Instead of the unvarnished truth which I was expecting, especially from a supposed insider, the "analysis" was essentially a rehash of orthodox history with a peppering of hints at nefarious dealings here and there to wake the reader up every three weeks or so. I have a rule whereby I must finish a book once started; after having heard so much about Tragedy & Hope in the past I decided to take the plunge. What a Tragedy!

The lack of footnotes and references make Tragedy & Hope useless as a reference work; the content makes it useless as a work of historical truth. Save yourself half a century and give it a miss...!
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on 5 November 2013
I thought this was out of print and have waited years to get a copy. This arrived early and in mint condition.
This is an astonishing book, a must read for people seriously interested in why events in history, and today, happened.
A real eye opener!
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on 18 October 2014
Extremely interesting, research must have been mind-boggling but very well written. Only down side is it's a heavy read so took a while to plow through 1000+ pages!
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on 13 August 2014
Study information, very useful
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on 2 June 2015
it was a present
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