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The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  235 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews

The Rise of the West, winner of the National Book Award for history in 1964, is famous for its ambitious scope and intellectual rigor. In it, McNeill challenges the Spengler-Toynbee view that a number of separate civilizations pursued essentially independent careers, and argues instead that human cultures interacted at every stage of their history. The author suggests that

Paperback, 828 pages
Published November 19th 1970 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1960)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,031)
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Feb 27, 2016 Marc rated it it was amazing
This book was published in 1963. I thought: "Never mind the 820 pages, I'll read through it in about a month, it will be too outdated". Well... yes it is outdated (as the author acklowledges in an accompanying essay), but nevertheless it took about half a year for me to absorb all of it.
McNeill is the first one ever to have written a really global world-history (Spengler and Toynbee before him were just speculative theories). Above all, I appreciated his extensive elaboration on the Middle East
Tom Schulte
Jun 02, 2013 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Outline of History, H. G. Wells observed, "The natural political map of the world insists upon itself. It heaves and frets beneath the artificial political map like some misfitted giant."

McNeill's panoramic view of history is cut from the same cloth: cultural in continuous clash with political and societal priorities often at odds with pressure building up like a tectonic fault. McNeill sees the interactions and tensions of intermixed peoples pouring out of the steppes for centuries and j
Mike Hankins
The Rise of the West is an attempt to follow in the footsteps of Toynbee, to create a synthesis of the entirety of human history, from the beginning of paleolithic man up through the Cold War. This is a huge task, and by necessity and design, McNeil will make sweeping generalizations about entire cultures, often covering vast centuries in single sentences. Most readers will scoff at these things, and especially readers familiar with particular areas of history will be shocked. Their brains will ...more
Karen Cox
Feb 02, 2015 Karen Cox rated it it was amazing
I cannot rate this book highly enough. It is the best basic history book in existence, going from Sumer to the middle of the 20th Century. McNeill's writing is clear and easy to comprehend, yet he never oversimplifies the material he covers. Anyone who wants a thorough overview of history from Sumeria to the 1950s, this is the book.

It should be noted that while he calls the book "Rise of the West," he covers India, China, and the Americas as well. In fact, this is one of the best books I've eve
Sep 20, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The Rise Of The West by William McNeill is reputed to argue that civilizations influenced each other, versus Toynbee's and Spengler's view that world civilizations developed independently. McNeill makes a good case and credits trade and commerce primarily as the agents of influence. It won the 1964 National Book Award in history and is on Modern Library's list of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century. It is well-written and has lots of footnotes giving his sources.

A brief survey of
Jan 19, 2016 Danila rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, 2016
Большая книга. Титанической труд. Книга рассказывает о развитии 4 цивилизаций Земли и их взаимодействии. Все события представлены в большим масштабе. События выстроены в единую историю. Начиная с первобытного человека в каменном веке и до 1960 года.
Для меня книга расставила многие исторические события по своим местам. Кто такие шумеры, почему одни цивилизации вытеснялись другими, влияние политики, экономики и культуры на восхождение западной Европы и т.д.

Книга написана простым и понятным языком.
Sense of  History
McNeill is the first one ever to have written a truely world-history (Spengler and Toynbee before him were just speculative stories). Above all, I appreciated his extensive elaboration on the Middle East, China and India en especially the crucial role of the waves of nomadic people in Eurasia (Roman history is covered in just about 10 pages). My narrow-minded European-centered history vision has been changed forever! In that view the title of the book (the Rise of the West) is a bit odd.

Mar 08, 2014 Scott marked it as to-read
I added this to my To Read list since both Brian Eno and Stewart Brand include McNeill in their Long Now lists. I knew his name from the Big History conference I went to. I had his more recent "The Human Web," but I donated it to Piya's history class.
Feb 01, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating this as historiography, not as good history.
Bob Shair
Aug 27, 2015 Bob Shair rated it it was amazing
First read this in college more than 50 years ago. In rereading it, I realized how much it shaped my understanding of the world. Of course I understood it better now than at age 18.

A well-written, enjoyable history of the world.
Jul 28, 2011 Paul added it
This was published about 1963, an older history. In the new intro to this book McNeill points out its flaws, which more recent findings have revealed.
It took me many lunches at home to finish this tome. But it was a good read.
Andrew Trembley
Jun 16, 2012 Andrew Trembley rated it it was amazing
It is a somewhat dated, somewhat Eurocentric view of the world, but still my favorite book about the rise of civilzation as we know it.
Craig J.
The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by William McNeill (1992)
Nov 05, 2008 Aaron marked it as to-read
My dad's always talking about this one, so I guess it's about time I read it.
Jan 11, 2008 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A nice fat history, seemed very reliable.
Apr 05, 2013 Anad2000 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Classic overview of western history and culture
Jan 10, 2011 andrew rated it did not like it
Shelves: selections
600AD to the present.
Sep 03, 2008 Clay rated it it was amazing
Big hist
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aka William William Hardy McNeill is a Canadian-American world historian and author, particularly noted for his writings on Western civilization. He is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago where he has taught since 1947.
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