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From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western…
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From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life—1500 to the… (2000)

by Jacques Barzun

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (30)  Italian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
An extremely thorough book full of intelligent ideas, most of which - I'm sad to say - were beyond the reach of my IQ. In fits and starts I had to claw my way through this read with only bursts of understanding in the way of a fantastic quote or enlightening passage to keep me moving on. I would still recommend it, Jacques Barzun is brilliant, however one must have great powers of concentration to be able to digest such an undertaking as this. ( )
  knp4597 | Mar 19, 2018 |
FIRST SENTENCE : “The Modern Era begins, characteristically, with a revolution. It is commonly called the Protestant Reformation, but the train of events starting early in the 16C and ending—if indeed it has ended—more than a century later has all the features of a revolution.”

REVIEW : Barzun, in his master opus, attempts to organize the Western cultural history of the last 500 years, chiefly around principles like Emancipation, Self-Determination, Primitivism. He has insights but expects a lot from the reader. The more you know, the more Barzun will help you organize your existing knowledge. He provides a narrative, not a detailed account. Writing style a bit peculiar, a zest of obsession for Operas.

QUOTES : “During the writing of this book I was frequently asked by friends and colleagues how long its preparation had taken. I could only answer: a lifetime.”
“The book, like the bicycle, is a perfect form.”

RATING : ★★★☆☆ Very Good
Read in January 2018, Nouméa. ( )
  Goblin_Investor | Jan 6, 2018 |
500 years of culture. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
I have been reading The Folio Society two volume edition whish is the first illustrated edition of this work. Unfortunately the conversion from the one volume edition caused the identifiers provided by Dr. Barzun to not correctly transfer. Those are unique to show in a simple way the page of the first mention of a person/subject and also a later continuation. These aid greatly for a close reading. Every one of these is incorrect in Volume One of this unique edition. I notified The Folio society and after a few days they decided to do a complete reprint for everyone who purchased the book. Volume Two has the correctly converted reference page numbers. The Folio Society is completely reprinting Volume One with the proper conversions. That significantly delayed the reading of Volume One.
This is a cultural survey of the past 500 years of history as told from a long lifetime of study and, yes, appreciation. The work is to be savored. It is like a College Course that may never end. The carefully named persons and works demonstrate the breadth of the studies of Dr. Barzun. It is opinionated and has a conversational rather than confrontational tone. This is polite conversation.
Unfortunately, I see that he has incorrectly located Robert Owen's New Harmony in Illinois rather than Indiana. The Wabash River throws water between Illinois and Indiana at that location. I wonder how many other simple factual details are incorrect in the book. ( )
2 vote Forthwith | May 6, 2015 |
Incredible recounting of the past 500 years of Western history. As I listened to this, I kept thinking to myself "The more things change..."

The 3 stars mostly relates to the quality of the audio recording. Worst I've ever had. Like having C3PO read it - but worse. ( )
1 vote Scarchin | Nov 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacques Barzunprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cuéllar, JesúsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodríguez Halffter, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Mankind does nothing save through initiatives on the part of inventors, great or small, and imitation by the rest of us  Individuals show the way, set the patterns.  The rivalry of the patterns is the history of the world. - William James (1908)
Dedication
To All Whom It May Concern
First words
The Modern Era begins, characteristically, with a revolution.
Quotations
How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event - tidal wave from a ripple - is cause for endless astonishment. . . . ardent youths full of hope as they catch the drift of the idea, rowdies looking for fun, and characters with a grudge. Cranks and tolerated lunatics come out of houses, criminals out of hideouts, and all assert themselves.
The "findings" [of scientism] have inspired policies affecting daily life that were enforced with the same absolute assurance as earlier ones based on religion.
This opposition to freedom of thought must, according to that very thought, be tolerated, thus creating a general lack of direction that a dictator will supply.
Providence, like predestination, lifts the burden of responsibility from the individual, as does their equivalent today: scientific and psychological determinism eliminates responsibility for bahavior, crime included.
What the journalists of every type see as their proper task is to form, with the help of rumor and current prejudice, what is called public opinion.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060928832, Paperback)

In the last half-millennium, as the noted cultural critic and historian Jacques Barzun observes, great revolutions have swept the Western world. Each has brought profound change--for instance, the remaking of the commercial and social worlds wrought by the rise of Protestantism and by the decline of hereditary monarchies. And each, Barzun hints, is too little studied or appreciated today, in a time he does not hesitate to label as decadent.

To leaf through Barzun's sweeping, densely detailed but lightly written survey of the last 500 years is to ride a whirlwind of world-changing events. Barzun ponders, for instance, the tumultuous political climate of Renaissance Italy, which yielded mayhem and chaos, but also the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo--and, he adds, the scientific foundations for today's consumer culture of boom boxes and rollerblades. He considers the 16th-century varieties of religious experimentation that arose in the wake of Martin Luther's 95 theses, some of which led to the repression of individual personality, others of which might easily have come from the "Me Decade." Along the way, he offers a miniature history of the detective novel, defends Surrealism from its detractors, and derides the rise of professional sports, packing in a wealth of learned and often barbed asides.

Never shy of controversy, Barzun writes from a generally conservative position; he insists on the importance of moral values, celebrates the historical contributions of Christopher Columbus, and twits the academic practitioners of political correctness. Whether accepting of those views or not, even the most casual reader will find much that is new or little-explored in this attractive venture into cultural history. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:43 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Showcases the triumphs and defeats of five hundred years of Western cultural history, highlighting the contributions of women and arguing that decadance is required in order to spark creativity in the next era.

» see all 3 descriptions

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