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Works by David Gress

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10.7 (2) 025 (1) 055 (1) Aeschylus (Aiskhulos) 525/4-456/5 BCE (1) Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-59 comte [Ac.fr.1841] (1) ancient (2) Armand Jean de Rancé OCist 1626-1700 abbé de La Trappe (1) Bookcase 6 Shelf 2 (1) Borgerlighed (1) capitalism (1) Charles V Habsburg ('Charles of Ghent') HRE & king of Germany king of Italy 1500/1519-56/1558 [Carlos I of Spain & king of Naples & Sicily 1516-56; Lord of the Netherlands & Count Palatine of Burgundy 1506-55; Archduke of Austria 1519-21] (1) Commodus (M. Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Aug; born L. Aurelius Commodus) 161/177 (180)-192 18th Roman emperor (1) democracy (1) ecology (1) Ernst Jünger 1895-1998 [Goethe 1982] (1) European History (4) freedom (1) Herodotus (Hēródotos) of Halicarnassus c484-c425 BCE (1) history (14) ideas (2) Iliad (Ilias) [760-710 BCE] (1) intellectual history (4) Marcus Aurelius (M. Aurelius Antoninus Aug; born M. Catilius Severus) 121/161-180 joint 16th Roman emperor (1) Montesquieu (Charles-Louis de Secondat baron de Montesquieu) 1689-1755 [Ac.fr.1728] (1) most-interesting-history-academic (1) office (2) philosophy (9) Plato (Plátōn) c428/423-c348/347 BCE (1) politics (3) property (1) Sigmund Freud FRS 1856-1939 [Goethe 1930] (1) socialism (1) Socrates (Sōkrátēs) c470/469-399 BCE (1) Theodosius I the great (Fl. Theodosius Augustus) 347/379-395 Roman emperor (1) to-read (4) Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro) 70-19 BCE (1) Western Civilization (2) Winston Churchill (Spencer-Churchill) KG OM CH FRS 1874-1965 [UK PM 1940-45 & 1951-55; Defence Minister 1940-45; 1st Lord Admiralty 1911-15 & 1939-40; Chancellor of Exchequer 1924-29; Home Sec 1910-11] [Nobel lit 1953] (1) With LC and ISBN (1) world history (3)

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From Plato to NATO is a rich study of the idea of Western Civilization and the defining elements of Western identity, as formulated through the discourse of intellectual elites over the last several centuries. The title is ironic. According to Gress, the standard history beginning with the Greeks and ending with 20th c. American democracy (‘the Grand Narrative’) is superficial, ideological, idealized and hence essentially false―mostly because it ignores history. His key claim is that liberty, and Western identity in general, are not primarily to be understood in the abstract, but as a set of practices and institutions that evolved from the synthesis of classical, Christian, and Germanic cultures that took shape from the 5th to the 8th centuries CE. The same confluence of forces also produced holy wars, black slavery in the New World, religious inquisitions, and economic exploitation. Gress insists on seeing European history whole.

Most of Gress' sources are European. In weaving together the work of scholars and writers not typically called upon in the American academy (Gress is Danish), he brings to light a range of interpretations and intentions that read like a master class in the development of historical understanding. Written in the midst of the reexamination and critique of Western identity that followed the end of the Cold War, From Plato to NATO anticipates the revitalization of historical scholarship in the new millennium, on themes ranging from periodization and Medieval Studies to reassessment of the skeptical Enlightenment (Montesquieu, Hume) and the effects of ideology on scholarship.
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HectorSwell | May 14, 2017 |

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