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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  327 Ratings  ·  29 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 ...more
Hardcover, 852 pages
Published June 1968 by Chiccago UP (first published January 1st 1960)
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Marc
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 I thought: "Never mind the 820 pages, I'll read through it in about a month, it will be too outdated".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 yes it is outdated (as the author acklowledges in an accompanying essay), but nevertheless it took about half a year for me to absorb all of it.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
...more
Tom Schulte
Apr 18, 2012 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
...more
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
Ahmad Abdul Rahim
Buku 'Rise Of The West' ini terbitkan pada tahun 1963, kurang dua tahun sebelum Martin Luther King berarak dari Selma ke Montgomery, menuntut hak politikal kaum Kulit Hitam Amerika.

Ini membuatkan aku terkejut dengan isi yang terdapat di dalam buku ini. Penulis adalah cukup kosmopolitan di dalam mencakupkan sejarah dan pengaruh tamadun China, Indo-Parsi dan juga Asia Tenggara (walau aku syak yang beliau lebih memaksudkan Indonesia berbanding Nusantara secara umumnya) di dalam panorama sejarah du
...more
Sense of  History
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
...more
Karen Cox
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michael
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Bob Shair
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
David
I really want to read this book. The problem is, I work on a university campus so about a week ago my life got busy. In other words, this book has "summer reading" written all over it and its not summer.

I did get far enough to make some observations. This book, though dated, is good for anyone who wants a general history of world civilization. And when I say "world" I mean it. It is called the Rise of the West, I am assuming because the West has become the most powerful culture in the world. Bu
...more
Brian
Spectacular. Don't be fooled by the first half of the title. Starting from ancient Sumer, McNeil travels back and forth across continents and oceans to outline A History of the Human Community defined by the cycle of growth->collision->merger->repeat until we reach the era when McNeil was writing, when minimal area of the globe remained untouched by globalizing influences. An excellent survey of world history, rich with detail, very evenhanded, and a great introduction to so many fascin ...more
Steven Baumann
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phd
In addition to how well written this book is, it is nice to read history that goes beyond the last hundred years. In this case only about 200 or 800+ pages are given to 1500 to present, which is remarkable considering how history is periodized in the academy. Despite many outdated arguments, the core idea of the centrality of cross cultural interactions creating change is still relevant today.
Marco Etheridge
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of the volumes that is always on my shelf. I cannot count the times I have referred back to this tome for an answer or insight into some aspect of World History. Highly recommended.
Charlene Mathe
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful telling of the human story from cave man days to the modern era, condensed to 800 pages. The theme of the writer, William H. McNeill, is how societies advance through cross-cultural challenge and exchange. This theme unifies the discussion of various empires and epochs, because each history is explored in relationship to the larger world. Despite the broad brush strokes, McNeill still provides fascinating detail as he touches down on particular times and places. This detail e ...more
Danila
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Nick Gibson
A meticulous, scholarly defense of a thesis that situates inter-civilizational conflict as the driving force of human advancement. Drawbacks: the reduction of civilizational dynamics to a Hegelian dialectic and the introductory pages that would make Chesterton choke with their story-telling about 'caveman' societies.
Scott
Mar 08, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul
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.
Craig Bolton
The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by William McNeill (1992)
Aaron
Nov 05, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My dad's always talking about this one, so I guess it's about time I read it.
James
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating this as historiography, not as good history.
Will
A beautiful book which may now show its age, but paved the way for a whole new field of history to emerge.
Alan
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A nice fat history, seemed very reliable.
Andrew Trembley
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sinan Öner
I read McNeill's Book; very interesting!
andrew
Dec 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: selections
600AD to the present.
David Vaughan
rated it really liked it
Apr 12, 2014
Joyce_yang
rated it it was amazing
Feb 15, 2016
Peterpanama
rated it really liked it
May 29, 2015
Cindy Loomis-Torvi
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Oct 10, 2016
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3246912
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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