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Towards The Light: The Story Of The Struggles For Liberty And Rights That Made The Modern West

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The epic story of the interlocking struggles to achieve the individual rights and freedoms that characterize Western civilization, by one of the world's leading public intellectuals.

Perhaps the hallmark of western civilization over the past five hundred years, writes A. C. Grayling, is the series of liberation struggles without which the ordinary citizen in Western count
Paperback, 340 pages
Published 2008 by Bloomsbury (first published September 3rd 2007)
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Feeling the fire in my belly growing with each turn of the page....
Ting Tai
An important book in an age where our civil liberties are increasingly eroded by the state. There are moments of illumination (pardon the pun) and impact, and the material is certainly well-researched and substantial. My only quibble is stylistic (which is why I give 3 instead of 4 stars). Grayling can be rather dry at times, and his sentences are clumsy and long-winded a little too often, piling clauses on top of each other. Better editing might have fixed that. Worth reading but I wished that ...more
Al Bità
In the West, we often take our rights and liberties for granted. New generations simply grow up with them in place, and accept them as normal, and enjoy what they provide without so much as a thought on how they got there. They've always been there, and in a way we assume they will always be there. As a result, they soon become under-appreciated, and sometimes even unloved.

The so-called 'war on terror' resulting from the Al Qaeda attack on the Pentagon in Washington D C and the twin towers in Ne
This book, by the well-known British philosopher, academic and broadcaster, is subtitled “The Story of the Struggles for Liberty and Rights That Made the Modern West”. It is a history of liberty in the western world and makes the case that liberty should be prized as a hard-won and permanently threatened feature of modern western society. It is a very good book, well-reasoned in its argument and very wide in the scope of its analysis.

It demands attention from the reader, though the style is acce
Considering the threats to liberty the world is experiencing at the moment, both external, from radical militant ideologies, and internal, from reactionary laws, this is a must read book. It is a well written summary of the long struggle for liberty and freedom. It puts our current freedoms into perspective, much of which we take for granted, while illustrating exactly what we have to lose. It is sobering to read about the torture, punishment, and coercion used to keep people silent and inline a ...more
Although the title sounds like this may be a religious text on conversion, it couldn’t be more opposite. Perhaps a deliberate play on words, the true point of this book is the long, drawn out battle for human rights that is still being fought today. It is very much a Whig history of the rights of the individual which are increasingly sacrificed on the modern alter of collective security.

The text briefly touches on Athenian “true” democracy and Roman politics we travel through the renaissance and
Dr. Nabeel Yasin, the Iraqi poet, writer, academic and politician, has chosen to discuss A C Grayling's Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty and Rights that Make the Modern West , on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Democracy in Iraq, saying that:

“Grayling writes about the idea that people need constitutions, that people need freedom from oppression and also people need to express their demands to the state. This is very important because the state should t
This is a book about the history of Westerners' struggle for liberties and rights from the time of the Reformation onward. Grayling covers religious liberties, freedom of inquiry during the scientific revolution, the abolition of slavery, workers' rights, women's rights, changing ideas about democracy, and the more recent notion of universal human rights (and the threat they face in post-9/11 America and Britain). He does a good job of explaining how one successful struggle for greater equality ...more
Strong, flawed, important work with a valuable, urgent message

Published in 2007 by Walker and Company
288 pages.

I had to pick up this book as soon as I stumbled upon it. One of the themes in my history classes is the expansion of freedom in the West following the same general timeline that Grayling follows. Who doesn't like to have his own thoughts echoed by a major English philosopher?


I do recommend this book - it is a readable, admirable attempt at covering a vast, important topic...
Philip Chaston
Grayling always provides a good canter through the fields of philosophical history. His highways and byways are familiar, though he finds the odder person or figure that usually peep through the glazed panes of the archive. A useful guide to exploring commonalities between left-liberalism and libertarianism. Both share a stake in upholding the Enlightenment heritage and a pragmatic muscular civil liberalism is a valuable ally in overturning the attacks on liberty championed by our supine politic ...more
Human rights and liberties, won with blood, sweat, and tears over hundreds of years, have been (and continue to be) casually eroded & cast away in the post 9-11 era, for a false promise of increased security. This story of the winning of those rights, and the ideas behind them, reminds us how precious they are, and why we should fight to retain them - and indeed, why we should battle still to extend them to all on our planet, in the full sense as articulated in the UN Universal Declaration o ...more
You must read this to believe in smooth writing. AC Grayling is a magnificent researcher and writer. The amount of things you learn from this book about history of liberty and religion is overwhelming. He reminded me of obvious issues such as freedom of speech and thought that I had forgotten. He also rises so many good questions. All and all a thought provoking book.l
Fantastic synopsis of the Historical evolution of liberty. Should be compulsory reading for all those entering politics or thinking about it. Shows how hard it was to attain the level of freedoms we currently enjoy; how much blood was shed in getting here; and how our taking such a hard won right for granted places us in very real danger of losing it!
Fine discussion of the gradual and painful processes leading to freedom of conscience, thought, and inquiry, as well as human rights; an important reminder that these hard-won rights are much easier to lose and take for granted than to gain or regain.
Great book highlighting the struggles humanity has gone through in the name of liberty and rights. It feels all the more valid in todays political climate.
While a good book I have to admit to a bit of disappointment. Grayling speaks quite better than he writes. Nonetheless it is an excellent fable.
An important read for any one with a penchant for liberty and freedoms evolution through the ages. A properly enjoyable account and book.
Craig J.
Toward the Light of Liberty: The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World by A. C. Grayling (2007)
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Anthony Clifford "A. C." Grayling is a British philosopher. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where he taught from 1991. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.

He is a director and contributor at Pr
More about A.C. Grayling...

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“If the world is to have a future, it lies in the hands of women. At time of this writing nearly half of all women in the Middle East are illiterate; millions in poor countries are shackled to the most basic daily urgencies of finding water and feeding children; the majority of the world's women exist in various forms of bondage to necessity, to poverty, and to men. (2007)” 4 likes
“Perhaps worse still is what liberal societies might do to themselves in the face of this new and different threat [of terrorism]. They begin, by small but dangerous increments, to cease to be as liberal as they once were. They begin to restrict their own hard-won rights and freedoms as a protection against the crminial minority who attempt (and as we thus see, by forcing liberty to commit suidcide, succed in doing) to terrorise society.” 2 likes
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