K Kamath's Reviews > From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun
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's review
Jun 20, 2008

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For those too young to have been subjected to H.G. Wells, Toynbee, the Durants -- who else am I missing? -- this book may come as an aid to forming some framework by which to understand the past and present and perhaps predict the future. While not quite Marx or Nostradamus, Barzun and his academic assistants really try to rev their mental engines on this one. They look at what they know and rethink it in terms of all they have learned since they first learned the first things; they revise views they hadn't really viewed or presented and try to come up with startling revelations. But, alas, they are merely human! They cannot fly and they are stuck with many pedestrian notions, like a rumpled spouse who looks up over his newspaper occasionally to comment, if only with a look, on what they are doing.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something borrowed, something borrowed. The book is married to its ways of understanding. No divorce is possible after so many years.

It is worth getting and reading as another more recent survey of history and is at least as good as anything used in universities and high schools.
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