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The Decline of the West

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,493 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Since its first publication in two volumes between 1918-1923, The Decline of the West has ranked as one of the most widely read and most talked about books of our time. In all its various editions, it has sold nearly 100,000 copies. A twentieth-century Cassandra, Oswald Spengler thoroughly probed the origin and "fate" of our civilization, and the result can be (and has bee ...more
Paperback, Abridged, 492 pages
Published February 14th 1991 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1918)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  1,493 ratings  ·  110 reviews


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James P.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Liked this book so much I quit drinking for a month
Roy Lotz
All genuine historical work is philosophy, unless it is mere ant-industry.

Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is one of my favorite books, not only because it is written so beautifully, but because of the spectacle of decline—of a great empire slowly and inevitably crumbling. The scene is irresistibly tragic. Like a Macbeth or an Oedipus, the Empire succumbs to itself, brought down by its own efforts at self-expansion. Or perhaps the scene can be better compared to the Fall of Man
...more
Szplug
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has to be stated up front that I read TDOTW in its abridged format—and while Werner and Helps did as well as they could have under their space restrictions, this book is still a stunted patchwork of Herr Spengler's full-form thought. I've been referencing my unabridged PDF copy alongside this handsomely bound patient; and at times the surgery has been severe, the amputation close to the joint. If you have neither the money nor the time to do Spengler the justice of imbibing the entirety of hi ...more
Kelly
Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West was a huge international bestseller after the First World War for reasons that will become obvious, and for reasons that may be just as much so, Spengler considered his theories prophetic and completely justified given that he started this book in 1911 before the shit totally hit the fan. Spengler’s wide ranging theories on the subject of history writing include the repeated idea that the vast majority of historians can do no more than write history from ...more
anton
the Dawn of the evening-land - read all through a gnostic lens - metahistory as the archonic scar of reality, metahistory as how people in history saw themselves in history, spirit unfolding - the creation of Spheres to immunize from the Real: all responses to death, all morphologies of a blossoming Vishnu -- a bored Demiurge using civilization itself as a board game on a rainy day. O weep, dance of millenia.

an ur-Text marking the rise of the new unified field theory of metahistory. if there is
...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
This is truly an awful book. It has an overriding incoherent theory of a ‘morphology’ on history and the author’s frustrations against democracy, and it has a sympathy for Nationalism while fascism flows throughout the second volume (yes, I read both volumes I and II).

First, the author is not really ‘erudite’ and he has an incredibly shallow grasp of complex subjects but it runs a mile long, and he is definitely frustrated with his country losing The Great War and by Volume II having lost the w
...more
Prickle
Aug 06, 2020 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nietzsche's finest moment. It only had to come 3 decades after his collapse in Turin. In fact a lot of this reminds one of reading Nietzsche at his best and most synthetic like in The Birth of Tragedy (fitting) or The Genealogy of Morals. Also Spengler's use of Goethean philosophy, especially that of "living" organic development contra Darwinism, is just fascinating and has made his Conversations with Eckermann a priority read for me. And much before I get around to reading Aristotle or Kant mos ...more
Simon
It's not often you come across a perfectly internally consistent and well-argued sociological theory-of-everything, often dipping into several other academic disciplines from art history over scientific theory to theology, that also happens to offend more or less every single currently popular ideology in every single chapter.

Though generally categorized as conservative, if Spengler can be called that he's very selectively so. The model of cultural and social history presented in "The Decline of
...more
John
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me about a year, but I finally finished reading the complete, unabridged version of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West. This is an awe-inspiring book that presents an epic yet tragic view of the rise and inevitable fall of the world's great civilizations. As the title suggests, its main focus is on the impending decline and fall of Western civilization.

Spengler's thesis is that all cultures are born, mature, and then die, just like organisms. The early stages of culture are the most c
...more
Victor Finn
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spengler is officially my second favourite mainstream philosopher, after only Nietzsche. Spengler, rather like Nietzsche, wrote like a poet and with the profundity of a sage. Nearly every single page filled me with intellectual ecstasy. There is not a single topic under the sun that Spengler does not offer insight into and synthesize into his overwhelmingly elegant thought-system. Much like Nietzsche, Spengler is deliberately rejected by academia simply because they are afraid of him. People and ...more
Iohannes
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
ok, this is epic.
Avery
The greatest book written in the 20th century. Nobody can really call themselves well-read if they haven't read this.
Brett Green
Things come and go, rise and fall...youth spring summer midlife autumn decline winter perish. History is made and as such, that which is history is itself ephemeral. From this basic premise, many an internally consistent metaphysics of history follows.

Why this book matters:
It may not matter at all. I enjoyed if only because it is a wholly unique specimen of a philosophy of history, a sort of time-independent philosophy of the nature of civilizations and their attendant cultures, a sort of Heracl
...more
Christopher
I was a Spengler guy before I'd even heard of Spengler and my first read of this last year only confirmed it.

* Re-reading this and tried it on the free Kindle edition - filled with odd formatting, typos, errors, and even missing sections. If you pay attention, you can make out what is being explained but be forewarned, it's not pretty; switching back to my trusty paperback. Sloppiness aside, the Kindle edition still is, however, FREE. There is also another Kindle edition for sale, which I assume
...more
Amy Jackson
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The rare honest conservative intellectual. Spengler explores the factors that make all cultures unique. The decline of the west he speaks of needs not be a negative one, but a simple passage in the narrative of history. It is a shame his work was appropriated by fascists, but it serves as a very useful insight into the state of culture and globalization at the time.
Von Rietberg
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Everybody with even the slightest interest in History must read this. It`s one of the most influental book of the last century, and one of the most original History book ever written. You might love it, you might hate it, but you must read it. ...more
Pieter-Jan Beyul
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-shelf
It’s impossible to review this monumental work in its entirety, as Spengler deals with such a vast array of ideas that one could use it as a reference for a myriad of studies on world history.
It's a pity no one followed in his footsteps to do just that. This book has a lot to offer in terms of methodology.

Just to demonstrate: Spengler foresaw the end of theory long before postmodernism. He stressed the importance of the narrative and the artist’s suave in studying history, not the analytical an
...more
Matthew Quest
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West is not what it appears to be at all. The book is not merely a tract by a prophet of doom nor a European thinker who compares world civilizations only to condemn them at the expense of an imperial mind. This book has philosophy, politics, aesthetics, and theology all rolled into one. It is a tour de force of mystical instincts and elemental drives which are proposed as making up intellectual and social movement history. Influenced by Nietzsche and Goethe, ...more
michael
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In our current age of science mania, people seem to think that history and the social sciences are completely objective endeavors, and worse, that they are sciences.

Spengler serves up a view of history that is deep, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. If I remember correctly - as its been a few years since I read it - he sets out on the premise that a historical study should not be measured on its 'truth' - since 'truth' is culturally biased and not a black-and-white thing - but rather on its d
...more
Shawn
May 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Rapidly becoming one of my favorite books both in prose and in subject matter. Truly a learned mind exploding into powerful allegories on almost every page, limitless in scope and made more poignant by the fact that is was published in the era of the Versailles Treaty, wracked with national demoralization and the smell of revolution (or senseless violence) in the air. And this is only the abridged version! From epistelomology to philosophy to the arts and the final cynical commentary on the stat ...more
Peter Daly
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Oswald Spengler was one of the world's greatest authors--I can reread'over and over again passages just for the visuals. Not for everyone though, especially not the Englishspeaking mind, which tends to visualize in snapshots rather than motion picture. More than history and philosophy, it is also a glimpse into a different way to think and think about things. A masterpiece, comparable to the Barberini Faun.
Nodas
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of 20th century philosophy & sociology. Clearly influenced by the thought of Nietzsche; Spengler provides a timeless classic with affluent historical background of Europe and the Western world, since the Greek and Roman times. 8 decades after its publication, this book is still very relevant to the contemporary world arena. A must. ...more
Phil
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Spengler is an astute observer of long-term historical trends, but his attempts to squeeze these observations into the framework of his system don't always hold up to close scrutiny. Yet they do more often than I had expected they would. Whatever the case, later historians and political scientists given to grand systematizing—your Braudels, your Quigleys, your Huntingtons, your Barzuns, your Fukuyamas, your Fergusons—owe Spengler a debt of gratitude (whether they agree with his views or not), if ...more
Gerard
Aug 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This massive treatise is quite tendentious, as many critics point out. But the magnificence of the undertaking as well as the encyclopedic knowledge of history contained herein, make this 2-part opus a monumental achievement.
Michaeldelicio
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Spengler's organic theory of history. One of the most important books I've ever read.

Theory in a nutshell: cultures, like any organism, have births, lives, and deaths. Spengler argues that Western civilization has entered the death throes.
Robert Sheppard


WHAT EVERY EDUCATED CITIZEN OF THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE GREAT HISTORIANS OF WORLD HISTORY--HERODOTUS, THUCYDIDES, SIMA QIAN, IBN KHALDUN, THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOLS, JULIUS CAESAR, PLUTARCH, LIVY, POLYBIUS, TACITUS, GIBBON, MARX, SPENGLER & TOYNBEE----FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF




"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is an apt admonition to us a
...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Mar 05, 2020 marked it as to-read
I will eventually get around to reading this book but I am suspicious of it and its fans. So until I get around to it and find a free copy in the library (I won't pay for it) I am just gonna post this three arrows video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b-Qt...

...more
TheSamster
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wide sweeping historical analysis rivaled by none. Spengler was a genius, and this book is a must read.
Zach Vaughn
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Well, it’s official; I have finally finished reading The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler (and it’s only the abridged version). It has taken a long time for me to finish reading this particular book. It is an intriguing review of world history, and an interesting contrast to other philosophies of history, such as that of G.W.F. Hegel.

In his work, Spengler identifies three major cultures: Classical (Greek and Romans), Magian (Egyptians, Persians, Jews and Arabs), and Faustian (the West). Sp
...more
Angelmae
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Currently at Volume II...can anyone give me any insight into the first Chapter of Volume II - "The Cosmic and the Microcosm"?
No wonder it's considered the most influential book of the 20th Century and no wonder it's not so well known. Read the abridged version (sorry Oswald) as the full two volume original will kill you. If you have a love of history and what it means, it will profoundly affect you. I cannot even begin to consider reviewing this amazing work (a) because I am in fact still readin
...more
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Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg (then in the Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire) at the foot of the Harz mountains, the eldest of four children, and the only boy. His family was conservative German of the petite bourgeoisie. His father, originally a mining technician, who came from a long line of mineworkers, was a post office bureaucrat. His childhood home was emotionally reserved, ...more

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