Civilization : New History of the Western World
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Ever since the attacks of 11th September western leaders have described a world engaged in 'a fight for civilization.' But what do we mean by civilization? We believe in a western tradition of openness and freedom that has produced a good life for many millions of people and a culture of enormous depth and creative power. But the history of our civilization is also filled with unspeakable brutality - for every Leonardo there is a Mussolini, for every Beethoven symphony a concentration camp, for every Chrysler Building a My Lai massacre. How can we come to the defence of a civilization whose benefits seem so questionable? In this ambitious and important book Roger Osborne shows that we can only truly understand our civilization by re-examining and confronting our past, with all its glories and catastrophes. Sweeping in its scope and comprehensive in its coverage, "Civilization" tells the story of the western world from its origins to the present. Tying together the histories of empires, art, philosophy, science and politics, "Civilization" includes the crucial events and people in the history of the western world from the siege of Troy to the Gettysburg address, from Charlemagne to the European Union, from Aristotle to Einstein, and from Giotto to John Ford. "Civilization" is the story we tell each other in order to place ourselves in the world and to justify our actions. In the last few decades this story has, for many western citizens, become increasingly tarnished and divorced from reality. Roger Osborne, however, forges a new story of the past that is both challenging and inspiring. At such a dangerous time in the world's history, this brilliant book is required reading.