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The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization

(Politically Incorrect Guides)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Everything you should know--but PC professors won't teach--about Western heritage.

Western civilization is the envy of the globe. It has given to the world universally accepted understandings of human rights (rooted in Judeo-Christian principles), created standards for art, music, and literature that have never been equaled, and originated political and social systems that
Paperback, 340 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Regnery Publishing (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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John Geddie
Aug 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
I picked it up on a whim, thinking it was another book focusing on minor or unheard of events. Instead I was faced with a very, very slanted version of history where the author made no attempt to avoid inserting his personal feelings and interpretations into history.

To begin with, I certainly agree with him that early western civilization has gotten shortchanged in classrooms of late, although I tend to think that it has more to do with an education system focused on a one-size-fits-all solutio
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-ebooks
A very interesting book, which challenges the notion that the Dark Ages was really dark, and that science and rationality are the pinnacle of Western Civilisation (parts on Blaise Pascal and Samuel Johnson are some of my favorite parts). A good book to hit at the science-loving, rationality-worshipping liberals. A must read for every conservatives, or everyone who felt that they had stranded into the path of liberalism.
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I teach a Western civilization course for a tutorial service and I thought I would check out this book. Esolen writes in a very readable style and touches on the history, art, ideas and people that have made the Western world what it is. He comes from a strong Catholic perspective and is not apologetic about it. He brings up some excellent points that in our politically correct society we overlook or downplay. I would not use it as a textbook but I have used some of his points in class and looke ...more
Aaron Miller
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great for what it is: a guide to read alongside other histories. I expect even liberals could get value out of this book, because it raises good questions and encourages critical thinking. And it's full of recommendations for learning material.

I found the early chapters on Greece and Rome most interesting. Toward the end, it feels like Esolen is stretching a bit, but good points are made throughout. For most interested readers, there's likely some preaching to the choir, but even those familiar
Larry Orr
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Despite some annoying but minor factual errors such as describing as English the Scottish philosopher David Hume and the Irish statesman Edmund Burke and calling Königsberg the "imperial capital" of eighteenth-century Prussia--a kingdom, not an empire, whose capital was Berlin--I found Esolen's romp through the arts, ideas and literature that form the bedrock of Western civilization to be exciting and inspiring.
Noah K.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Smarmy, self righteous, and lacking in actual history, this is not a book I can recommend. I found out while reading that the whole "Politically Incorrect" book series is just an excuse for right wing nut-jobs to spout off about their religious beliefs and mostly ignore the topics they pretend to cover. I stuck with it to the end, but I am giving up on this series.
Michael Kaz
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics, history
Valid and convincing arguments can be made that CNN and MSNBC are biased and manipulative left-wing news organizations. However, that conclusion does not make Fox News the purveyor of balanced news. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization is the Fox News of history books.

If you consider yourself a centrist, classical liberal, libertarian, or anything of that sort and you were hoping for a different perspective on western civilization, this book will disappoint you. The author is
Mar 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anthony Esolen is a brilliant writer in every way, with incredible insights into the reason our culture is where it is today. He explores the good and the bad of our historical and philosophical underpinnings, starting with the ancient world and spinning the thread through time into the modern era.

This is well worth a read and a purchase, and I'll keep it on my shelf for future reading and reference (although you should know that, as good as this is, many of his other books are even stronger be
Venessa Sylvester
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I picked this up at a used bookstore and it wasn't what I was expecting or hoping for. I can't recommend it, even though it is though provoking. The author's Catholicism is the centerpiece, and even conservatives will have a hard time getting through this one. There were interesting statements (not sure if I can call them facts) that made me want to dig deeper and verify, but the conclusions drawn from the statements didn't seem to match up. I also disagree with the central importance he gives t ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked and agreed with most of this. At the end the author concludes that the only way to rescue Western, i.e. American Civilization is for the nation to follow Jesus Christ. This is the entire premise of the Book of Mormon, so I heartily agree with him.
Cav Harris-Brandts
Had to put this one down. Did not like it at all.
Maybe I was expecting something more from it, given that the description made it sound really interesting.
Instead of interesting, I found it to be rambling and long-winded.
The author writes this book like an evangelical; it is absolutely SATURATED with endless and unnecessary bible quotes. If I wanted to read the bible, I would do so. Terrible.
Yes, I understand that the west was founded on Judeo-Christian values. You can convey that message withou
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I rated this book three stars because of the author's blatant bias in favor of the Roman Catholic church. The study of Western Civilization is the study of history. The author seems to present conclusions and then presents facts to back up those conclusions. In the process, he paints a picture of the Catholic church as being only a positive force throughout its history, while ignoring positive aspects of western civilization that took place only as a result of the Reformation.

All that aside, the
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
This is a curmudgeonly rant that I sympathize with but found annoying. Esolen loves the medieval grace of iron clothing. From a staunchly Catholic standpoint, he finds the present age wanting and proceeds to tell us why, acerbly, albeit with considerable learning.

If you want cultural history told by an arch-Catholic, somewhat learned Cliff Clavin, this is your book. You've made your point, Tony, but get a grip, why doncha?
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent analysis that dismays but leaves us with hope.

A must read for all parents of school-aged children. The analysis dismays, but at the last, there is hope for the West. I pray that we may be given a glimpse of that hope being realized.
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Engaging, entertaining and humorous; but also quite informative and opinionated.
Kevin Stilley
Not recommended.
Fun to listen to, but the history was a bit sanitized. Dr. Esolen is at his best when discussing literary history.
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Library. Blackstone Audio CD.

I've been listening to this off and on since early January. I enjoyed it immensely.

Esolen takes a strong view of Western Civilization as something to be preserved and cherished, despite its ups and downs throughout history. He holds out hope for the future based in his belief in God and Christ Jesus. A strong Catholic, there is a lot of Catholic thought included here, even defense of the institution of the Roman Catholic Church against revisionist historians who woul
Wes Brummer
Oct 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
As with other books bearing this brand, "Politically Incorrect," (personally, it ought to be called Revisionist, but chalk it up to marketing.) the target audience are conservatives who want to see themselves as one of the "enlightened ones." Good luck with that.

The book is a mish-mash of personal opinion, free-form bible lecture, and skewed facts. All of this filtered through a Fox News style commentary.

I guess I was expecting a "Don't Knew Much About . . ." style of book, mixing stuff we were
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
A surprising "meaty" book for a popular series such as PIG. This book requires attentive reading, not just a casual scan. I found the early chapters hard to digest, as the author does not make it clear exactly where the narrative is going. It's not until 2-3 chapters into the book that the bigger picture starts to become clear, at which point the information in earlier chapters makes sense in retrospect. Recommended.
Lindsey Sparks
Nov 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I normally like the PIG series but this author is awful. Most of these books are fairly conservative but this guy picks and chooses moments in history to illustrate how the Catholic Church is right about everything and women's rights are bad (not just abortion, pretty much any women's rights). I didn't finish it because he was so condescending. Plus he probably wouldn't want me reading this book anyway - I should probably be in the kitchen cooking dinner and taking care of my brood of children.
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Difficult to know how to rate this - much of the time I disagreed with the premises and agreed with the conclusions, or agreed with the premises and disagreed with the conclusions. Esolen has a good handle on the facts of Western history and even why they are important - but his own prejudices taint the entire work, in my opinion. Interesting because it is thought-provoking, but difficult to recommend.
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Great historical perspective, but denser than I expected, and it sometimes veers off into what I considered to be the esoteric. Having a degree in philosophy would definitely help in absorbing the good information here. It also takes a strong Christian point of view, which I approve of but which some readers might find off-putting.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic, audiobooks
Oh my, this was fun. Esolen pulls no punches. I supposed those who need to hear would not listen to him for two seconds, but he does not seems to care. This certainly is not a history, so guide is a good title. He covers the ideas that defined Western Civ and their source, and their destruction as of late. Might learn some things you did not know.
Void lon iXaarii
May 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I was as far as I can remember of the belief that people are wrong to assume ancient people were stupid(er) and it's books like this that confirm my hypothesis. Some very deep stuff in here. Many fail to realize how many of their values are actually inherited, and many of them would be quite surprised how often they are inherited from exactly those they might be attacking.
Luke Marusiak
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly thoughtful book

There is a lot to recommend this book. It is a treasure of examples of the best that our civilization produced and a timely warning of emergence of State as God.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Fun & insightful overview of Western Civilization from a "Politically Incorrect" perspective. Esolen shows how much of our modern approach to Western Civilization is to bash it and look through it without ever coming to terms with it.
Jon Dickinson
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Started out great but then halfway through all sort of fell apart. Plus the narration was terrible. He spews out way too many people and things and quotes they said but doesn't really string them together that it was just a heavy bombardment of stuff but no context.
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
This reads as a history of ideas and culture rather than events. It is most definitely not PC.
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Anthony M. Esolen is a professor of English at Thomas More College, and noted translator of classic works, as well as a popular writer for magazines like the Claremont Review and Touchstone, of which he is a senior editor. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. He also writes a column for the Inside Catholic website.


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