"A formidable, richly engrossing effort to determine why Western institutions dominate the world." ---Kirkus Starred Review
About the Author
Ian Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and a professor of history at Stanford University and the author of a number of scholarly books, including The Dynamics of Ancient Empires.
AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson is a native of London, England. He is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit. Antony lives in Los Angeles.
In this extraordinary book you will find the answer to the title question "Why the West Rules." It is written in a clear and light, yet rigorous, fashion, and Morris lays down his case without shying away from controversy. The validity of his measuring tool (the social development index) is convincingly stated, and wonderfully argued, as he displays all the empirical evidence through chapter after chapter of entertaining narrative. The second part of the title question ("For Now") leads to another equally clear answer... which I will not disclose in this note. This very ambitious book, with its broadest of scopes and a flair for the anecdotal detail, is a very enjoyable read, one I do not hesitate to fully recommend.
Stanford historian Ian Morris, in the first of three monumental studies on the meaning of world history, explains how the West came to dominate the East in the context of social, economic and political development. Using a fairly-easy-to-understand index by which to calculate this transformation of civilizations over four millennia, Morris explains why European geopolitical interests were able to achieve a critical global ascendancy when Oriental empires were not. Until the fifteen century CE, the West was basically under siege from the East with a concerted attack by Ottoman forces. The quality of life was not much better than many eastern societies. After Europeans started taking to the oceans of the world in search of trade, new ideas and wealth, the pendulum swung decidedly in their favour. With this westward expansion into the Americas came the establishment of colonies, the introduction of new ideas especially from the East, significant exploitation of natural resources, and the increasing introduction of new technology. All three of these factors were missing in the eastern cultures which made them vulnerable to political instability, prolonged and costly wars, and foreign domination. At no time in Morris' argument do we find any occasion to gloat. His findings, rather, suggest that his calculation can easily show reversals and catch-ups as well as advances. The caveat here is that the historic gap between the two hemispheres is starting to shrink as the quality of life and political stability gain traction in the East with rising economies like China and India leading the way.
Really interesting read. Combined with some other books (The Great Degeneration, Why Nations Fail, Rise and Fall of Great Powers etc), a cautionary note for our times, especially in the "west". Not sure where the political will to change course for the benefit of all will come from. Finished it within a week.
This should be the basic intro to world history. What it lacks in detail, it makes up in scope. Even if you don't agree with his thesis (IE, Why the West Rules), by examining history through that lens, a narrative is forged that makes contextualizing and understanding history much easier.
Very rarely I dont finish a book but this one I could not. It is packed with information but just too much detail. I would have preferred the conclusion not the explanation. If you are anthropologist I guess it is a must. I am not.