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PDF How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

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Oct 23, Pablo rated it did not like it Shelves: non-fiction. Book summary: 1 Despite what everyone else thinks, the Roman empire led to no advances of civilization. If Galileo and others got in trouble with the church because of their discoveries, it was largely their fault. View all 5 comments. Stark has brought together, over a lifetime of study, a very powerful argument which is, in many ways, refreshing to read.

The restoration of the West to its proper place within world history is an important enterprise and one that is beginning to be given voice to as the grip the Counter Culture has held Western Universities in for the past forty plus years begins to fade. However, Prof. Where he is on firmer ground is demonstrating how Scholasticism was responsible for laying the foundation which made the Scientific Revolution possible. The author is even on firmer ground when he argues there was no revolution, but a natural evolution which took place over many centuries.

They go on to argue an increasingly popular position: that there was no Dark Ages. Stark contends, rightly, this was the invention of the 18th Century Enlightenment and put forward by those hostile to religion. Along with this, he argues that Empires are bad for economic and political development, especially the Roman Empire which killed innovation. Perhaps this is, also, an overstatement, but an interesting one. Stark does not argue that everything was good.

The author does deal with slavery, but they brush the negative effects of this and the responsibility of the West for it away too quickly. Still and all, he recognizes the West entered a world where slavery was endemic and that it was the British who ended this across their Empire [This makes me wonder how he deals with it in the face of his argument that Empires are bad?

The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

Some of his points are revolutionary and some disturbing, but this was a very good book. The only reason the book receives 4 instead of 5 stars is that Prof. Stark diminishes non-Western accomplishments on occasion, overstates some positions [that it was only in the West that true Science emerged], and his use of non-collegial language hampers good arguments. Recommended for those interested in the restitution of the West in world history, and the place of religion in this View all 3 comments. Feb 02, Kristi Richardson rated it did not like it. This is one of those "history books" that I would call propaganda.

Not only is it not "history" but it's premise is not true either. This is one of the few books I have taken back per Audible. The author tells us that Western Civilization, Christianity and capitalism are the greatest because all great inventions came from the West. He says even though China invented gunpowder they only used it for fireworks the West adapted it for war.

That is simply not true. Not only was gunpowder used for war as early as but they also invented the gun and grenade.

I don't care if an author is politically incorrect as long as he tells the truth. I could see little truth in this book. From doing some research I discovered the author began as an "agonistic or atheist" who taught Comparative religions and Christianity courses at many colleges, now Baylor. He then found religion in Christianity and all of his books since have been Pro Christian and Western Civilization to the point of propaganda. He conveniently forgets to add China's invention of currency, porcelain, silk, pasta, etc. I would say if you like Fox News than this is the book for you.

View all 4 comments. Aug 18, Adna rated it liked it Shelves: english-language , reviewed , non-fiction. This book pleasantly surprised me. When I first received How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity it seemed to hit all the standard topics dear to American self-styled conservatives: Christianity, capitalism, freedom, political correctness, and those darned Communists in academia trying to muddy the historical waters.

Stark checks off all those topics, but he does so in a far more engaging and interesting way than I had expected. Throughout his narrative, Stark reminds hi This book pleasantly surprised me. Throughout his narrative, Stark reminds his readers of what makes Western civilization different from, and often better than, other - mostly native American, Roman, Arabic and Chinese - civilizations. Most importantly: the Western dedication to freedom, reason and human dignity.

Stark ties these characteristics to topics and issues as wide-ranging as the Greek philosophers of the pre-Roman era, the Medieval universities, democratic politics, and the rise of capitalism and modern industry. There can be no doubt that Stark has his own favourites in this story, but while he is at times prone to exaggerate, he handles the summary as well as one might expect in just over pages.

Some might object to a history that is for all intents and purposes biased and polemical, but as long as the reader is aware of this then he or she is of course free to agree or disagree with Stark's interpretations and conclusions. It is when Stark aims his proverbial pen at the 'politically correct' historians and commentators that his writing struck me as the least interesting. Perhaps these passages are aimed at an American audience, because the stories he introduces as being somehow counter to the received wisdom were usually quite similar to those I've always read and heard in Dutch, British, German and other publications.

Like many other American authors, Stark also maintains an unsurprising focus on first England and later the United States. By shifting the focus of his narrative from war, to technology, to trade he ensures England maintains centre stage throughout the early modern and modern period. Oddly, Stark consistently uses honorific titles such as Sir when naming British persons, but omits them for all other nationalities. More problematic for the book as a whole is the way in which Stark deals with war. He spends many pages describing the way Europeans warred with Arabs and Turks, with native American empires, as well as the colonial expansion into Africa and Eastern Asia.

He surprisingly gives comparatively little attention to the untold number of wars Europeans have waged on each other.

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It would have strengthened his narrative if Stark had spend more time trying to give this phenomenon a place in his characterisation of Western civilization. It probably doesn't need emphasising that freedom, reason and human dignity are not generally associated with war. All in all I thought this was a decent summary of a history that is not as neglected as Stark claims, and as a result it offers little new information to people familiar with Western history. Summaries such as this are nevertheless nice to read every now and then - as even a summary of a subject so vast will include details that lead to further reading.

In this case that is the troubled relationship between the Spanish kings and the pope - a subject which I had previously not heard much about. In the final chapter Stark makes what I thought was an important observation: 'Although modernity has spread around the globe, in many places what has arisen is not Western modernity. Instead, technological aspects of modernity have been grafted onto non-Western cultural systems that still lack many of the basic political and moral aspects of Western civilization.

Mar 10, Adam Shields rated it really liked it. Short Review: This is really a 4. Rodney Stark has made a career of countering the prevailing mood of Academic historians. So he wrote a generally pro-crusades history and a book about the rise of Christianity that not only used historical and sociological tools but also took seriously the actual spiritual content. Now he is writing a very pro-western culture book about the rise of Western modernity.

What keeps this from being a 5 star book is that Stark does some of the things he co Short Review: This is really a 4. What keeps this from being a 5 star book is that Stark does some of the things he complains about others doing. He takes his argument too far and dismisses legitimate critique to easily.

But this is a very well written history and one that is well worth reading.

A refreshing and fast-paced take on the history of Western civilization, minus the politically correct nonsense that's fashionable in history texts such as these. This book will definitely offend those who subscribe to Howard Zinn's vision of the world, but surprisingly also to those who believe that the Protestant Reformation was a triumph of tolerance.

While this text is primarily a defense of the West, he doesn't whitewash the many abuses the West has committed over the centuries either. He p A refreshing and fast-paced take on the history of Western civilization, minus the politically correct nonsense that's fashionable in history texts such as these.

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He places everything in its historical context, backing his work up with the latest findings of his field among others. Although I agree with my fellow Goodreads reviewer that Stark's sounds uncollegial at times, the liveliness of his prose and his engaging storytelling style offsets this tonal issue. It's funny, since in the paper version these materials would only take up about an eighth of the text block. I still can't get used to how e-books track their readers' progress Sep 17, Pavlo Illashenko rated it it was amazing. As some already pointed, this book is "MythBusters" for history.

Although the description is correct, it seems to me, that we are rather dealing here with some kind of cycle of "MythBustering".

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How the West Won The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

It was obvious to most people that the western civilization is superior to others in terms of ability to achieve economic growth , then it was not so obvious partially due to political correctness , and now it is rather obvious once again because of advances in history sciences and new institutionalism As some already pointed, this book is "MythBusters" for history. It was obvious to most people that the western civilization is superior to others in terms of ability to achieve economic growth , then it was not so obvious partially due to political correctness , and now it is rather obvious once again because of advances in history sciences and new institutionalisms movement in economics.

Oct 26, Tim McIntosh rated it really liked it.

Rodney Stark is an iconoclast. Tired of all the bashing of the Western world, Stark seems determined to single-handedly reform public opinion about the Crusades they made sense at the time , the Medieval world decentralization was an improvement over Roman power , and pre-Enlightenment science plenty of monks were making advances.

[PDF] How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity - Semantic Scholar

The book is difficult to recommend as a stand-alone book. You need to know the Wests's traditional and critical stories before you can sufficiently enjoy Stark's m Rodney Stark is an iconoclast. You need to know the Wests's traditional and critical stories before you can sufficiently enjoy Stark's maverick sensibilities.

I think the two — though enemies on paper — might together give a full assessment of why the West developed science, democracy, military power, and economic vitality more quickly than other regions on the planet. May 09, Paula rated it really liked it. The premise of Stark's work is that it was freedom and Christianity that were directly responsible for the rise of western culture. He takes us on a brief tour of history from the days of ancient Greece through Mediaeval times and into the present, showing how the greatest progress was made where these influences were greatest.

The final chapter is the jewel in the crown. The author reveals the foolishness of those who have denigrated Western Civilization. He reveals the horrendous customs that The premise of Stark's work is that it was freedom and Christianity that were directly responsible for the rise of western culture. He reveals the horrendous customs that you would have to be complacent with if you were to embrace the modern philosophical stance that equates all cultures.

This was in contrast, he notes, to Orthodox Christianity and to Islam. Stark also offers interesting reflections on the role of Christianity in the rise of capitalism. The Bible may well condemn greed, but it does not condemn commerce, he points out. Evidence of the positive role of Christianity was the flourishing of the Italian city-states. The Christian conception of God, he adds, "continually prodded the West along the road to modernity".


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Stark concludes by observing that building a modern society depends on much more than just owning mobile phones and drinking Coca-Cola. Democracy is sorely lacking in Middle Eastern countries and in China, for example. Western modernity has its limits and defects, Stark admits, but it is better than any of the alternatives.

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This is so not so much because of its superiority in technological matters, but because of its commitment to freedom, reason and human dignity. The fact that religion had a crucial role to play in the development of Western civilisation was recently highlighted in the inaugural lecture in England by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks who spoke on the topic of Ethics and the Bible at King's College, London. Check system status. Toggle navigation Menu.

Name of resource. Problem URL. Describe the connection issue. SearchWorks Catalog Stanford Libraries. How the West won : the neglected story of the triumph of modernity. Responsibility Rodney Stark. Online Available online. Full view. Green Library. S Unknown.