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

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  259 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Finally the Truth about the Rise of the West

Modernity developed only in the West—in Europe and North America. Nowhere else did science and democracy arise; nowhere else was slavery outlawed. Only Westerners invented chimneys, musical scores, telescopes, eyeglasses, pianos, electric lights, aspirin, and soap.

The question is, Why?

Unfortunately, that question has become so p
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 17th 2014 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute (first published February 24th 2013)
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David Withun
Jul 29, 2014 David Withun rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book is "MythBusters" for history. In his tour of the history of Western Civilization from its inception in ancient Greek and Jewish thought, through their combination in the cauldron of medieval Christianity, and finally emerging as full-blown modernity, Stark smashes nearly every myth about the history of the West that has developed since the Enlightenment. The hatred of Christianity which began in the Enlightenment and became Western self-hatred in the 19th and 20th centuries is finally ...more
Michael Jones
If any professor tried to tell this story today, he'd probably lose his tenure. but Stark really isn't worried about that. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to "get another opinion" on how we got to the condition we are in.

Top-notch. Much myth busting. But what he does so well is to show that quality of life always improves and thrives where there is less oppression from heavy-handed governments and dictators.

The worldview and religion of a people group completely affects its ability to
Aug 23, 2014 Adna rated it liked it
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
Prof. 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. Stark often ‘overcompensates’ for the Counter Culture’s self-loathing by engaging in what might be vie
Jul 25, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Pavlo Illashenko
Nov 02, 2014 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". 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
Jul 24, 2015 Omar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
يصل المؤلف بعد استعراض تاريخي ساذج ومنتقي إلى أن قيام الحضارة الغربية كان بسبب المسيحية وليس على الرغم منها وينتهي إلى تفوق المسيحية وتفوق المجتمع الأوروبي والأمريكي في ذاته وإلى اتصال تطوره حتى خلال عصور الظلام. يصل إلى ذلك بتهميش الحضارات الأخرى وبالذات الإسلامية والصينية وبالطبع يقابل كون أن المسيحية لم تكن عائقاً أن الإسلام كان عائقاً أمام تطور شعوبه. يكتب المؤلف بمنطق المشجع الرياضي الذي لا يرى غضاضة في أن يقلل من أي فريق آخر لذلك انا اعتبر الطرح عنصري وغير جاد. مثل هذا الفكر كان سائداً بين ...more
Adam Shields
Mar 23, 2015 Adam Shields rated it really liked it
Short Review: This is really a 4.5 star book. 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 ...more
Amy M
Reading Challenge Book? Yes! Clocking in at 432 pages, this is my “Book With More than 400 Pages”.

I’ve not read Rodney Stark before, though I have heard his name mentioned. Stark is a prolific author and serves as Co-Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. His background is in sociology rather than history, a piece of information I found helpful as I read this work. Stark appears to write more as an observer of human progress and societal developments rather than
Jul 23, 2016 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 ...more
Kyle Grindberg
Jan 14, 2016 Kyle Grindberg rated it it was amazing
It was a great primer on Western history, and was a great antidote for me against the historically warped and inaccurate liberal perspective that I was taught in my education in the government schools.
Peter Bradley
Apr 06, 2014 Peter Bradley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Peter Faur
Oct 16, 2016 Peter Faur rated it it was amazing
The author points out that modernity developed only in the West—in Europe and North America. Nowhere else did science and democracy arise; nowhere else was slavery outlawed. Only Westerners invented chimneys, musical scores, telescopes, eyeglasses, pianos, electric lights, aspirin, and soap. The question is, why? Stark provides a number of insightful answers.
Don Weidinger
Jul 10, 2016 Don Weidinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
false conscious of Marxist or let best economics prove themselves what is value, Greek city state example vs history of oppression and taxes at 30%-50%, China in 11th century developed iron industry then elite govt seized and destroyed motive, Greek with joyful living with games and free citizens, Christianity liberty freedom dignity, dark ages myth while windmills and implemented innovations, no God but A, southern France defeat of Muslims by well trained citizen volunteers, 1065 crusades for ...more
Brett Thomasson
Jan 01, 2016 Brett Thomasson rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Rodney Stark is the Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University and has a long career of works investigating various aspects of modern society and Western civilization, including how the latter came to be, He distilled much of that career in his 2014 How the West Won, writing about what the subtitle refers to as the "neglected history" of the "triumph of modernity."

Stark's thesis is that features of Western civilization such as rule of law, private property rights and the
Aug 25, 2016 Dionysus rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-history
Despite the author's pretensions to shatter the "politically correct" histories of Western Civilization which he believes to have taken over academia, his own revisionist narrative is a fairly standard Whig history, and it offers little in the way of originality in terms of research and insight. The book is a loosely-organized mishmash of amateur military history (mostly borrowed from the work of Victor Davis Hanson), criticisms of Islamic history, and apologia for the various misdeeds committed ...more
Kristi Richardson
Feb 02, 2015 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's satisfaction guaranteed policy.

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.
Jul 04, 2015 James rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history
I had very very mixed feelings about this book. So let's start with the good. This is a very useful survey of Western Civilization and there are nice discrete sections that provide informative details about aspects of Western history. Stark did a good job of tracing the narrative of the development and rise of the West. I also think that he makes an coherent argument about the centrality of the Judeo-Christian belief system to Western identity and the role that the ideals of liberty and progress ...more
Jul 18, 2015 Seth rated it liked it
At first, I was worried about how valuable this book would be: A mile wide and an inch deep, it skims over 2,000 years of history, briefly touching down at various aces to make a point. But Stark writes really well and, even with all the years he covered, managed to put together a readable and coherent narrative.

The basic premise is similar to what he has focused on in his other works (which I am aware of but haven't read): he challenges conventional historical consensuses about the rise of West
Jan 24, 2015 Ross rated it it was ok
This book for me is a very mixed bag. The author begins by noting that the traditional mandatory liberal arts college freshman course in the history of western civilization has now been dropped everywhere in the U.S. due to political correctness pressure from the faculties. This is the result of the cry for multi-culturalism and no longer teaching how great were that bunch of dead white men.
The author goes on to say that this book is the truth of why the west came to dominate the world in the hi
Jacob O'connor
Feb 01, 2016 Jacob O'connor rated it liked it
A fine, conservative book. I'd like to see Stark debate a liberal historian.

Couple notes:

--Challenges the notion of the "Dark Ages". This view is increasing in popularity.

--The God of Judaism was a game changer

--If Christianity precipitated the fall of Rome, why only in the West? The church was even moreprevalentin the east, and that kingdom thrived.

--Challenges the belief that Muslim society was ever sophisticated. Rather it was the conquered groups that supplied the knowledge and technology
Oct 23, 2015 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. Pagans.
2) Random chapters about religion and slavery, the author's research areas, without ties to overall story.
3) Despite what everyone else thinks, the Dark Ages were a great time of advancement.
4) Random chapters about religion and slavery, the author's research areas, without ties to overall story.
5) Religion is not only helpful to science, but required for scientific inquiry, despite 90%
Jun 30, 2014 Frode rated it it was amazing
Mr. Stark writes well, intelligently, and clearly. He debunks a number of myths about the Western world that have been foisted on the people over the years, particularly by those who are against liberty, freedom, capitalism, private property, and the Christian church and its beliefs. His opening statement sets the tone:"This is a remarkably unfashionable book." Political correctness takes it on the nose. For me it was a joy to read. I recommend it to all who have an interest in history. Oh yes, ...more
Jan 11, 2016 Eli rated it really liked it
An eye-opening account of the rise of Western Civilization and Modernity. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective on history, such as Stark arguing that the fall of Rome was a positive thing, that the Dark Ages never existed, that Islamic culture is backwards due to its theological worldview, that Protestant missionaries were the largest factor in the establishing stable democracies in the non-Western world, etc. An absolute must-read.
Sep 04, 2014 -kevin- rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting proposition for how to interpret history. Reader beware, I found some passages slightly "evangelistic." I could easily understand how some folks would really dislike this book as it certainly paints many cultures in a very poor light. I'll be interested to see how it stands up in the face of my continuing adventure through history books.

The writing was clear, and this definitely serves as a summary of happenings in a fascinating way.
Dax Palmer
Oct 31, 2015 Dax Palmer rated it really liked it
Very informative book about history from the Western Hemisphere. He argues that the west is responsible for modernity. Although he has good arguments, some of the assumptions that he makes are pretty bias. Somethings I do agree with, but most he is operating from his own personal bias. Which is understandable.
Janice Shannon
Jun 09, 2015 Janice Shannon rated it did not like it
Honestly, I only finished half of this book, so I shouldn't really rate it, I suppose. My very intellectual daughter would probably LOVE it! Her less intellectual mother thought the first nine chapters, half of the book, was extremely dull. It's a book club selection, and I just don't want to finish it!
Nov 03, 2014 Darren rated it really liked it
Great book. A fast moving overview of Western history with a fresh take on the "Dark Ages". Stark is not afraid to pull punches and deliver history to people of the West as every other culture delivers history to their own people.
Michael /
Jun 20, 2016 Michael / rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful book!

This book provides great understanding to the rise of modernity and the West's unique place in it. I thought this book was excellent and gives a good broad-stroke of global history to enlighten its readers to see how freedom gives wings to ideas and innovation.
Feb 19, 2016 Bob rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. So common to hear people pontificate about Europe, Christianity, Columbus etc. based on sound bites...great look at the big picture.
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Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, and began his career as a newspaper reporter. Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of ...more
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“No doubt Western modernity has its limitations and discontents. Still, it is far better than the known alternatives—not only, or even primarily, because of its advanced technology but because of its fundamental commitment to freedom, reason, and human dignity.” 2 likes
“No doubt it was “unenlightened” of the crusaders to have been typical medieval warriors, but it seems even more unenlightened to anachronistically impose the Geneva Conventions on the crusaders while pretending that their Islamic opponents were innocent victims.” 2 likes
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