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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on January 7, 2004
This book provides potent ammunition against the central part of the current dogma of multiculturalism, that urges us to accept all cultures as equally praiseworthy. The principle antidote to this pernicious doctrine is to recognize that excellence exists, and to celebrate the undeniable fact of inequality in achievement that have enabled some to enrich us all. While we are perhaps all born equal in some sense, it is really an equality of zeroes; for babies have no political rights--they don't vote or hold office, and their only talent is to find their mother's breast. As individuals grow, the inequalities in them also inexorably grow, and differences become more and more obvious, sometimes even to the professors of sociology, anthropology and education.
Murray's methodology and the data he uses and shows us in all of its glorious detail are refreshingly straightforward to understand, and represents an advance in the application of historiometry that he can be proud of. His finding about the dominance of Western European culture and white males in producing the inventions of the modern world is undeniable. The steam engine, transistor, and the scientific method were not discovered by the Yanomamo, Zulus or Eskimos. Sometimes it is not such a bad thing to state the obvious.
The important endeavor, as Murray emphasizes, is to try to understand the things that make for greatness. What role is played by the accidents of history, the availability of minerals in our territories, the success of our warriors, minorities in our cities, and population genetics? What causes the rise and fall of nations, and what can be done to be sure that our own culture of the West is preserved and protected against the eternal Barbarian at the gate?
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on January 27, 2004
Charles Murray is a controversy writer, ever since his "Bell Curve" it has been obvious that he poses convictions (or maybe prejudices) that moves him. Although I approach this book with skepticism, and may not be in total agreement with his conclusions, I have to admit he has done a valid attempt to measure Human Accomplishments (not an easy task, and certainly an elusive one). It's logical that some relativity has to be involved in such a measure, anyone trying to do so will inevitably have to define a method, which in turn will definitely have to use subjective or indirect indicators. So, even if I'm not 100% convinced by his methods or in agreement with all his conclusions, I have to admit he has done a tremendous effort and a great job, Charles Murray deserves credit for this, and for making an otherwise coffe table book an excellent read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2004
This made me very curious to learn more about that Cambodian survey of human accomplishment from 1100AD.
Of the 1,200 or so Sanskrit or Khmer inscriptions discovered around Angkor, aside from ritual instructions and listings of assets, only 3 contain preserved pieces of literature ... or so I thought??
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