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The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the… (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679766693, Paperback)Historians and philosophers of history have long debated whether the human story is one of constant improvement and progress, or whether history is instead a wheel that leads us again and again to the same place--the same choices, the same errors. To judge by this slender volume, David Fromkin is an unabashed partisan of the first school. In his view, the logic of history leads to "the only civilization still surviving, the scientific one of the modern world," the civilization of capitalism and technology. That view is, of course, arguable, but Fromkin defends it ably and intelligently. General readers will be more interested in Fromkin's overview of world history, a fast-forward tour of the evolution of civilization from a simple congeries of agriculturalists, as in Sumer, to a collectivity of peoples interested in such ideals as morality and peacemaking. Fromkin's whirlwind approach is sometimes vexing--he treats, for instance, the fall of Rome in just a few sentences, ignoring generations of scholarly inquiry on the multiple causes of that decline--but it nonetheless yields a spirited synthesis of past events and patterns. Fromkin closes by remarking that although the future may promise "a nightmare of nationalist, religious, and language-group wars," the worldwide adoption of an American-style federalism that transcends such distinctions is a more attractive possibility. "For all its faults," he writes, "the American way may prove to be the only viable one to deal with the consequences of the modernizing revolution. If so, the world is in luck, for continuing American leadership, like it or not, seems to be what the world has got." --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:32:28 -0500)
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