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The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  6,009 ratings  ·  780 reviews
In 2016, Ben Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley. Hundreds of police officers were required from 10 UC campuses across the state to protect his speech, which was -- ironically -- about the necessity for free speech and rational debate.

He came to argue that Western Civilization is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and ideas. Our freedoms are built upon the twin notions that eve
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Broadside Books
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Daddy-O If you haven't studied much Western philosophy, get ready to learn A LOT. Even if you have, it's a necessary exposition of the Conservative goal direc…moreIf you haven't studied much Western philosophy, get ready to learn A LOT. Even if you have, it's a necessary exposition of the Conservative goal directed at a contemporary audience; preserving the tradition that made America the most free, prosperous nation in history. If you appreciate these things, it will indeed be "epic."(less)

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 ·  6,009 ratings  ·  780 reviews


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Jerrid Kruse
Apr 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I believe the judeo-Christian tradition to be a powerful framework to guide our living. However, the book was filled with logical fallacies, false equivalencies, spurious correlations, half truths, and cherry picking of ideas. For example, the author repeatedly makes causal claims based only on the fact that one event happened before the other. He believes the enlightenment was only possible with judeo-Christian values, but ignores the scientific advancement of non-Eu ...more
Brian Popp
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro gives a stirring defense of the enduring truth found in the philosophy of our founding fathers. In this compact book he manages also to give a high level overview of the entire history of western thought that will be sufficient to understand the "big ideas" of the various contributors and also be good starting point for those who want to dig deeper.

In these turbulent times we are often hyper-focused on the "right now"; this book in my opinion helps us u
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Dan Graser
I always enjoy reading works of authors with whom I likely have little in common, at least when it comes to social and policy positions. Ben Shapiro is someone frequently cited as the most prominent thinkers of one side of the political divide, and based on the shear number (yes I intend that spelling, I'm calling them sheep) of people I see offloading their own critical thinking to him I suppose that is true. So, even though I was quite annoyed with the extended-rant style of his previous books ...more
Brooke Nelson
I'm putting my personal views aside—so far aside you won't be able to spot them for miles—to write this review.

Because preconceived personal beliefs don't really make for an interesting review of another person's nonfiction writing, do they?

Anyway, this book is just stellar. The amount of quotes that made me sit and really think is crazy! I can tell he really put a lot of time and effort into his research. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes learning about Western philosophy
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Jeanette
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review is beyond my ability to adequately describe the thoroughness and point to point focus over historical periods for homo sapiens' individual and collective cores for their own existence and rules of/for behaviors.

In one point in particular, this finally made me understand the huge differences between two massive Revolutions that happened mere 3 short years apart (American and French) and why they evinced such alternative approaches within both processes and outcomes.

If you have taken
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Mike (the Paladin)
This won't be a long review. I've been down this road before.

Let me say up front that I'm not in blanket agreement with everything in this book... That said I wish I could simply get everyone to read it thoughtfully. It is not the most valuable book you'll ever read. It is not the most insightful book you'll ever read. It is however a well written book that deals with ideas and facts that need to be considered. There are simple facts here that few are aware of...today.

I have so often reviewed bo
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Brenden Weber
Apr 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Shapiro's book is well researched......however

He managed to write an entire book without once arguing for his premise: that Judeo-Christian is the best, most rational, and ethical system to use for meaning and society.

He spent the entire book dismissing every other position as foolish and never said why or why his viewpoint is better. Very bizarre.
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Pierre MacKay
May 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This entire book is one, slow, painful eye roll; it’s a discounted, expired, dollar-store history lesson for spiritually deprived Sunday school adult dropouts (that have somehow remained devout but require assurance).

Shapiro clumsily argues that the abandonment of the Judeo-Christian tradition is the root of an existential, spiritual crisis in America (a popular narrative among conservatives). To Shapiro, the lack of spiritual meaning or moral purpose in our lives results in a slew of modern da
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Negin
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thinkers-i-adore
This was the first book that I have read by Ben Shapiro. I enjoy listening to him when I have the time. He’s intelligent, spot on, and speaks with reason. This did not disappoint. Much of it is historical. Despite it not being a lengthy book, it gives a thorough look from the Greeks until modern time. He explains that the twin philosophies of Athens (reason) and Jerusalem (monotheism) gave rise to Western civilization. Ideally, everyone should know this in order to appreciate how good we have it ...more
Simon
Oct 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
It would be easy to characterise The Right Side of History as a testament to the Archduke of Grift. Which it is. But it's also crazier than that.

Ben Shapiro leveraged his status as a precocious right-wing firebrand into a media empire. Shapiro is an honest seeker of objective truth that, whaddya know, completely accords with his position. Proud owner of a webpage where he disowns his previous articles of absolute truth, Shapiro replaces them with new articles of absolute truth. He recently melt
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Ryan
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Ben Shapiro. I listen to his podcast most days. I find him intellectually honest. He brings conservatism back to its fundamentals. In fact, I could say that I agree with him on 90% of his policy and reasoning.

This book presents an extremely important premise. Western civilization, which is built of Greek reason and Judeo-Christian values, is one of a kind. It brought us several core beliefs which eventually led to the foundation and the success of the United States. Losing thos
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Carolyn
The author's strong opinion that every American should believe in God, or our culture is lost. Sorry, I disagree. ...more
Veronica
I have little patience for someone who cites the origins of the iPhone as Western Civilization™. Yes, if you put a gun to my head and said defend this thesis or face certain death, I could probably make some convoluted argument about the history of the iPhone, tracing its origins to a barefoot old man with a Spartan beard in a musty ekklesiasterion, nested behind the walls of classical Athens. But as a stand-alone insight, it is so banal. Yawn.

This book reminded me of Julian von Abele who rose
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Michael Huang
Skippable unless you enjoy flawed reasoning.
Hai Quan
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
" If you cannot explain it to a six year old, that is because you are not understand it yourself"

ALBERT EINSTEIN.

I can summarize this whole thick volume of scholarly dissertation into one single sentence : If happiness is your lifetime endeavour , think and act morally, as per God's instructions.

But even the above is too wordy.

How about : "You do good, you go to Heaven."

As a six year old might have blabbing, grammatically correct notwithstanding, when an adult testing his/her ability to talk.

In
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Daria
Dec 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My overwhelming impression after listening to the audiobook is that Shapiro is terrified of anyone who thinks differently, or has a different experience of the world. So terrified that he has written a book to "prove them wrong".
But he doesn't even bother to investigate and understand what life is really like for women, for people who don't live in the USA, for people who deal with mental health issues, or for people with any other quality that doesn't align with being a financially-safe, white
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Tyler Thomas
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional read!

With only 200 pages, Ben Shapiro summarizes the history of Western philosophy in a thrilling and exciting fashion that makes you want to keep reading. He masterfully boils down each philosopher to the root of their ideas, explains its impact in the culture at that time and how each new philosophy led into the the next step of history.

He makes a compelling case for what we have lost in culture and gives clear and concise steps for us to take action on that will move us as a so
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Olivia Grace
Jun 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
am only 10% of the way through and dear god where to begin. wanted to engage in a piece on the opposite side of the political spectrum as myself and this was clearly *not* the way. this reads like a white, suburban 14-year old’s attempt at writing a clunky rhetoric piece for AP language that would have scored a 1 out of 9 points (if that). Continuously self-aggrandizing, Shapiro does not hesitate to employ every logical fallacy in the books to support his shortsighted, contrived conclusions that ...more
Keith Turek
Apr 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reactionary nonsense. A right wing fairy tale utterly oblivious to any real understanding of history and the profound moral shortcomings of "the West". ...more
Christian Tempest
I was very surprised by the historical and philosophical depth of this book. It was admittedly not what I expected from Ben Shapiro, mainly due to its non-political nature (at least until the end) as well as the fervor with which he advocates for and defends religion and the belief in God (something that he generally avoids discussing in detail, at least while in the public eye). In any case, regardless of my initial surprise at his approach and ambition, by the end I was quite taken with many o ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The easiest book I've ever read, where with each passing page, all I did was mutter "no" over and over again. Frankly, I don't even know where to begin...but if you create an amalgam of all the other 1 and 2 star reviews for this book, you'll get the general idea of which side of the review/debate I'm on. ...more
MJD
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those interested in exploring the marriage of Jewish and Greek thought further I would highly recommend the book A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy by Isaac Husik. ...more
Jeremy
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: econ, heresy


The main thesis of the book is this: “There can be no individual or communal moral purpose without a foundation of divine meaning. There can be no individual capacity or communal capacity without a constant, abiding belief in the nature of our reason. The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars - divine meaning and reason.”

Some who are not religious might dismiss the book entirely and argue that reason alone is sufficient for a good and happy society. To me, wheth
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Andrew
Aug 17, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How anyone in this day and age can think only the West has produced anything worthwhile is bizarre. Ben is really reaching with this one. He fails to make any kind of rational argument for his assertions. The book reads like an out of control, ranting, nonsensical comment section on an article from a looney alt-right site.

You can feel Ben's impotent rage bubbling beneath the surface of everything he writes. At best I'd say Ben is a scared, close-minded man who can't conceive of life experiences
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Kris
It just didn’t blow me out of the water. Everything he says is true. But it felt almost too short. Too simple.

Looking at this with my theological cap on, I have two complaints. One, I disagree with his interpretation of the Abraham sacrificing Isaac story. Two, looking at it from a Law & Gospel lens, the whole thing is only law. It’s about constantly striving toward a moral purpose.
Kendall Davis
Shapiro's narrative survey of the history of Western thought is interesting and at points well-done. However I think that his oversimplifications and un-argued assumptions mean that he fails to demonstrate his thesis in the way that he desires.

Shapiro's treatment of "Athens" and "Jerusalem" are at best oversimplifications. In particular, his analysis of the Hebrew Bible and the emergence of Christianity were poor. To argue that Christianity is fundamentally an attempt to marry Greek philosophy
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Camilla
So I actually read this book through twice because some of the philosophical concepts were too difficult for me to understand with just one run-through. I've said before that Ben's books aren't exactly enjoyable because he covers things that are hard to hear, but it is always enlightening to pick up one of his books. This books steered clear of politics for the most part except inasmuch as political policy was formed by the trending philosophical ideology of the time. It was part an exploration ...more
Manny
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly not what I expected. Love him, hate him or love to hate him, Ben is certainly a figure that regardless where you stand, you have to give him credit, one of the most
nimble people to debate. His quick witted and thoughtful responses are interesting to watch weather you agree or not. This is the Spairo I was expecting to read. Instead I got a decent book about Judeo-Christian society and its norms. Again not what I expected.

I applaud Shapiro on his faith and the decisions he makes regar
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Kevin
May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book for me was a waste of time. Majority plays out like a high school level philosophy course. I don't think his arguments are very solid. Would kind of like my time back I could have been reading something else. ...more
Renee
Great read! Insightful & relevant. I think I’m going to have to grab this as an ebook so I can highlight the parts I want to remember.
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Benjamin Shapiro was born in 1984. He entered UCLA at the age of 16 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in June 2004 with a BA in Political Science. He graduated Harvard Law School cum laude in June 2007. Shapiro was hired by Creators Syndicate at age 17 to become the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the U.S.

His columns are printed in major newspapers and websites including
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