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Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History
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Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  94 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe....They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish... ...more
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published (first published February 3rd 2004)
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Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was, for me, a new way to look at world history, as not so much a clash of civilizations (although that occurs) but as a war between civilization and its opposite, which he terms ruthless gangs. He compares societies where the primary loyalty is to the family, clan, or group, and societies where loyalty is to society or "the team." This team idea arose in Sparta out of what he calls the "boy's gang" and evolved through Rome into today's liberal, capitalistic societies where hierarchy is no ...more
Mark Sandbothe
At first I was sympathetic with the author's viewpoint. The truth is that our society has become much too relativistic. I can state with verity that there are some cultural values that are better than others. I also agree that you can't negotiate with a terrorist organization. They don't live in or share the same worldview as rational people. The only way to interact with them is to kill them. I also agree that in our current state of civilization we have truly forgotten what it means to struggl ...more
Michael Connolly
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, islam, revisit
This book is far away from the boilerplate rhetoric generally found in right-wing polemics. Harris comes across as a classicist, philosopher and historian.
We in the West have been civilized and safe for so long that we have forgotten the concept of "the enemy". The enemy is a threat to our survival. It is a mistake to see the enemy as a rational actor. The enemy hates us for reasons that are not based on reality, but on fantasy. Therefore we cannot reason with the enemy, and must instead use fo
Mar 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike those who see the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as the outbreak of a new war between radical Muslims and modern Americans, Harris views those attacks as the decisive reemergence of an ancient cultural conflict stretching back to Sparta and Rome. Elaborating on three controversial articles originally appearing in Policy Review, Harris argues that terrorists struck against the U.S. not so much to wage war as to act out the histrionic script of a fantasy ideology in which religious zealotry enfo ...more
Nathan Albright
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
This book is a blunt-spoken and insightful book written shortly after 9/11 and containing striking insights concerning the class of civilizations that has marked the last fifteen years and shows no sign of abating. One of the aspects that makes this book particularly worthwhile, even if what the author says are matters many readers will not want to accept, is that the book is simultaneously a defense of Hagel's critique of abstract reason and the tendency among many intellectuals to pit the real ...more
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was both interesting, original, and somewhat frustrating. It was one of those that made me wish I could give half stars, because I think it deserves three and a half stars. The book begins with a chapter on the 9/11 attacks, and how they represented an attack on civilization itself. The author spends the next several chapters on a history of civilization. However, he never brings the argument full circle, so the book feels like two long, unrelated articles as opposed to a coherent whol ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be a pity if this book were ignored. It runs the risk of being ignored because its author thinks for himself, and deeply. Moreover, he is not afraid to follow his thought to its logical conclusions and in the process say things that will win him few enthusiastic allies. His objectivity—an almost clinical detachment at times—can be frankly appalling. The book also runs the parallel risk of not being attended with the seriousness it deserves because many of its components, whether contain ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
This author is a CONSERVATIVE who gives no quarter to naive liberals. Also, it ran 9 hours, 35 minutes; he could have gotten his point across in 35 minutes (or less). I tend to agree with his thesis, that the USA is the next stage of civilization because it's a multicultural society that is able to get along without the traditional violence or without a tyrant in charge. But...the story draaaaggs ooonnn. Read the first chapter and throw away the rest.
Barry Belmont
Probably the most convincing piece of conservative literature I've ever read. Harris puts his subjects in ways I've never thought to think of them. However, the whole thing seems to veer off on a tangent or two while also become a little repetitive after awhile. Not the book I was expecting, but a good book all the same.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. It's pretty philosophical, though. And the author assumes that the reader has read up on all their philosophers, which led to me muddling through large sections. It's definitely a thinking book.
Taft Babbitt
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting book about what it means to have an enemy and how societies/civilizations have delt with that reality in history. A pretty quick read the author is good about staying focused on his message and not drowning the reader in philosophy or too much history.
Jim Johnson
May 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author attempts to justify outright bigotry and racism by glorifying American military imperialism and labeling every Muslim on the planet as our "enemy". This book was incredibly disappointing.
Michael Nicholas
One of the few books that provided me a whole new perspective on international relations.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harris claims we are forgetting our cultural heritage at our peril. The gang makeup of Sparta is to be our fate if we do not acknowledge that there even IS an enemy.
Nov 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why did it feel like extreme ranting, pro-war propaganda?
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A pseudonym used by Syrell Leahy.

Lee Harris is the author of the mystery novels featuring ex-nun Christine Bennett, who first appeared in The Good Friday Murder, an Edgar Award nominee. She also writes the New York Mysteries, which debuted with Murder in Hell's Kitchen. In 2001, Lee Harris received the Romantic Times magazine Career Achievement Award for her distinguished contribution to crime wri
More about Lee Harris...
“Our first task therefore is to try to grasp what the concept of the enemy really means. The enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the enemy always hates us for a reason, it is his reason and not ours. He does not hate us for our faults any more than for our virtues. He sees a different world from ours, and in the world he sees, we are his enemy. This is hard for us to comprehend, but we must if we are to grasp what the concept of the enemy means.” 0 likes
“This is how mankind has always thought of the enemy — as the one who, if you do not kill him first, will sooner or later kill you.” 0 likes
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