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Conquests And Cultures: An International History

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This book is the culmination of 15 years of research and travels that have taken the author completely around the world twice, as well as on other travels in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and around the Pacific rim. Its purpose has been to try to understand the role of cultural differences within nations and between nations, today and over centuries of history, in shaping ...more
Paperback, 516 pages
Published April 30th 1999 by Basic Books (first published 1998)
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This is the history book I have been looking for all my life. It provides studies of important cultures throughout history and interpretations with supporting rationale. It provides a conceptual framework to help me understand where humanity has come from with supporting details for the conclusions made. Thanks, Mr. Sowell, for your enormous effort to bring the facts together in an understandable way.
John Martindale
I listened to this audiobook a few years ago while riding up to Washington DC, it would definitely be worth listening to again. The primary thing I still remember is how Sowell didn't only write about the bad and the ugly, but also about good consequences of Empires. He says we should not do a "Cost/benefit analysis" and claim England for example was justified in her Empire building, because the goods that ultimately resulted in the nations conquered (the rule of law, stability, greater producti ...more
Vaishali Joglekar
WOW ! Ok, stop whatever you are doing, grab this book and read the chapter on the Aztecs. My good God. Enough said. This is one of the few history books (possibly the only one) that I will revisit numerous times because of its copious amount of info and absolute clarity. Sowell is a true scholar who has woven an unbiased tapestry of human acculturation via conquest. There is so, so much in this book, although I wish he would have also thrown some light on ancient human civilizations in general a ...more
Kent Lundgren
Jul 22, 2008 Kent Lundgren rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students of history and geopolitics
Shelves: geopolitics
If you want to reexamine some of your assumptions about civilizations and cultures replacing one another (if you think about such things at all), this is a good book for you.

Sowell, as he is so very able to do, explicates the factors that suit particular cultures for survival at particular times, especially as they come into contact with other cultures. He calls the cumulative mass of those factors "cultural capital", a good definition and one that avoids any hint of a society's intrinsic worth
Paul Clayton
I finished this book a couple weeks ago. I'll have more to say about it in the future. A must-read for all victims of the American Teachers Union.
This history book, written by an economist, examines cultures and the effects of conquests, arriving (unsurprisingly) with conclusions that will probably be appreciated only by those who think in economic terms. Along with psychical causes such as geography, diseases, and other environmental boons and and detriments, Sowell convincingly argues that civilizations rise and fall largely based on the embrace, development, or rejection of human capital (knowledge, skills, and attitudes).

The author,
Craig Dube
A somewhat interesting listen and a bit outside my typical comfort zone in terms of what I'd normally read, this book read a bit like a text book, full of facts, figures and census data. The book which is a third book in a 3 part series on culture (I had not read/listened to the previous two), takes a broad look at the impact that conquests across the globe have had on affecting and influencing culture. Four separate and long sections cover conquests involving Great Britian, Africa, the Slavs, a ...more
Amazon review:
This book is the culmination of 15 years of research and travels that have taken the author completely around the world twice. Its purpose has been to try to understand the role of cultural differences within nations and between nations, today and over the centuries of history, in shaping the economic and social fates of peoples and of whole civilizations. Focusing on four major cultural areas—that of the British, the Africans (including the African Diaspora), the Slavs of Eastern
George Slade
I have to give Sowell some credit. This dude does research like none other. I enjoyed this very interesting overview of some of the major cultural conquests of both sides of the world. Any true history buffs would enjoy this. It doesn't delve into minute details of each conquests, but you can definitely discover some new and intriguing subjects that you may want to look into further.
Evan Macbeth
Overall, a good, but not great, survey. Clearly has a ideological axe to grind. The best part of the book for me was the final chapter when Sowell laid out his essential argument. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Sowell's contention that some cultures are just better than others. Yes, I am oversimplifying his argument and he has some strong points, but I felt like he was working from assertion more than logic.

I also found it somewhat ironic to read his contention that native overeducated elites
An excellent book which details the historical intermingling of peoples, cultures, economies, through the ages. Beginning with Britain, Sowell discusses the myriad of influences brought to England from its beginnings, including the Celts, Romans, Anglos/Saxons, Vikings (Norsemen) and final the Normans. He discusses the cultural changes occurring in other peoples as well such including Africa (and its many tribes), Slavic peoples, the Indians of North, Central and South America. Few peoples have ...more
Fred R
In many ways it reminds me of Johnson's "Modern Times;" another engaging synoptic account with an obvious ideological bias. The chapter on Britain, as Sowell charts the collapse of civilization in the wake of Rome's retreat, is by itself worth the price of admission. His arguments for the persistence of cultural patterns are convincing, and his animus against non-productive intellectuals who create ethnic divisions and economic chaos in their pursuit of power is quite enjoyable. The lasting impr ...more
Britain, Western Europe, the Slavs, Native Americans - how conquests in these areas shaped those cultures, some nuggets of insight, well-written
Beth Barnett
Definitely a thought-provoking book which covers the history and legacy of conquests and the impact on societies made by the cultural exchanges that conquests create. Sowell discusses the conquest of Britain by the Roman Empire, and later England's conquests the peoples of the British Isles; the conquests of Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Americas. The most interesting idea Sowell discusses is the concept of "cultural capital" which is passed down and shared within cultures, and can have as str ...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: How conquest affected the cultures of the British Isles, Africa, Slavs & Native Americans. This is a statistics and macro level focused book on the historical development of cultures after conquest. There are lots of good historical details but very few stories. If you like your history as story, then skip this. If you like your history with lots of stats then this is pretty interesting.

For a longer (about 1000 word) review go to my blog at
Daniel Duval
Thomas Sowell, one of America’s greatest educators. This book should be required reading.
Started audiobook in 2013--unable to finish. Too dry for my tastes.
Clinton "Joe"
A classic among the works of Thomas Sowell. It is comperable and complementary to Jared Diamond's Gun's Germs and Steel but deals with more recent events in history and is, therefore, able to be more emperical.
Bill Webb
Excellent factual debunking of much "multicultural" misinformation using historical numbers and clear-eyed analysis. Full review to follow.
Void lon iXaarii
Probably the most interesting and most complete history walkthrough I've ever enjoyed. So many great lessons and such great research and analysis...
The thesis of the book is very clear and interesting, but all the facts run dry very quickly. This book makes me want to play Civilization...
Ryan Baldwin
A nice macroscopic view of the positive and negative affects of shared cultures.
May 29, 2009 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Conquests And Cultures: An International History by Thomas Sowell (1998)
Jed Henry
Mar 06, 2012 Jed Henry is currently reading it
It's dry nonficiton, but not altogether boring. I like historical stuff.
Going to start listening to audible version this week.
Philippe Dame
Interesting history lesson but incredibly dense.
Lauren added it
Jul 04, 2015
John Dubose
John Dubose marked it as to-read
Jul 02, 2015
Lynn marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2015
Nicholas Turner
Nicholas Turner marked it as to-read
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars ...more
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