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The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Carroll Quigley was a legendary teacher at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. His course on the history of civilization was extraordinary in its scope and in its impact on students.Like the course, The Evolution of Civilizations is a comprehensive and perceptive look at the factors behind the rise and fall of civilizations. Quigley examines the application of ...more
Paperback, 428 pages
Published August 1st 1979 by Liberty Fund Inc. (first published 1961)
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Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to understand the world
so good, it sort of mesmerised me. so incisive and brilliant, it makes me want to puke, when i think of the putrid pukefaces who run the world, rather than people like carroll quigley (r.i.p.).

the first 100 pages is a fascinating discussion of why almost all historians and social scientists are pretty much worthless. they neither understand nor apply the scientific method correctly. they do not know the difference between fact and law. they invent ridiculous incomprehensible social groups or
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
The copy I own of this is a 1979 reprint, but I read most of the materials from earlier editions while I was taking a class with Quigley in 1974 - not his legendary could on Evolution of Civilizations but a related course on "Science, Christianity, and the Western Intellectual Tradition". This book, along with Quigley's other work on the 20th century, was my first exposure to someone presenting a broad macroscopic and interpretive view of history. In this book, the focal point is civilizations - ...more
Tamás Szajkó
May 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Érdekes, hogy egy tudományos jellegű könyvnél mennyit számít 60 év. 1960-ban ez a könyv, és a történelemre alkalmazott tudományos analízis lehet, hogy korszakalkotóan formabontónak tűnt, de mai szemmel inkább már csak röhejes az a rengeteg kinyilatkoztatás, tényszerűség, túlformalizálás, amit a könyv tartalmazta. A világ és a történelemtudomány meghaladta a szigorú felsorolásokat és a biztos igazságokat, így ez a könyv értelmezhetetlenné vált.
This is what I wrote to my former history professor:

"I just finished the book, Dr. Saucier. You know how if you drink too much coffee, and you read about world affairs, the tendency is to become overwhelmingly horrified at the complexity and indications of what you're reading? In the same vein, I wonder how Quigley didn't suffer a stroke or a psychotic break.

I'm more familiar with philosophy of history texts than actual works of history, but in my own untrained opinion, this work was incredibly
Eugene Kernes
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epistemology
History is background in this book. History provides examples as proof to the social science theories. Quigley helps to understand history, not just have knowledge of history. The focus of the book is the epistemology of science as applied to history. Civilizations are the data which seem to create a pattern. Knowing how the pattern applies to each civilization creates an understanding which can be applied to contemporary civilizations.

There are myriad historical events and each event has a
Jacob van Berkel
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Het boek bestaat grofweg uit twee delen: (1) een theorie over de ontwikkeling van de geschiedenis en (2) een beschouwing van de geschiedenis aan de hand waarvan de theorie wordt getoetst.

De theorie wordt op een briljante manier opgezet. Quigley heeft een achtergrond in de 'exacte wetenschappen' (biochemie) en legt in het begin van het boek uit waarom hij meent dat sociale wetenschappen net zo behandeld kunnen worden als exacte wetenschappen: ook de exacte wetenschappen zijn in de praktijk nooit
Zubayir Kazi
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holistic-theory
This work intends to be the creation of a theoretical framework for the understanding of the machinations of what is to Quigley, the main unit of study in the study of man, the civilization, from a scientific approach.

The methodology set up in Chapter 1, ‘Scientific Method and the Social Sciences’, is as close to a scientific methodology as can be, and it is very precise to the object of its application, making much needed preliminary qualifications.

Chapter 2, ‘Man and Culture’, is an exposition
Lasse Birk Olesen
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
SUMMARY: The rise and fall of civilizations usually occurs in seven stages:
Age of conflict
Universal Empire

A requirement for expansion is the accumulation of capital by a group or organization that can invest in expansion, a feature which strictly egalitarian societies lack. "This surplus-creating instrument does not have to be an economic organization. In fact, it can be any kind of organization, military, political, social, religious, and so forth."

Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Upon researching the Cold War I came across a recommendation to study Quigley's "Tragedy and Hope" as a means for understanding the mechanism that drove the Cold War. As I was researching that book before starting, it seemed that this book would make for a good introduction to Quigley's method of historical analysis.

Having just finished "The Evolution of Civilizations" it does feel like this to be the case. He uses the core concept of how societies are formed on the wave of an "instrument of
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Among the top 10 books I’ve read. Quigley ranks with the best in terms of his ability to synthesize events into coherent messages that make you go “aha!” He reminds me of Adam Smith. Specifically, in this book he asserts that civilizations have a predictable life cycle, which can be analyzed in terms of 1) institutionalization and 2) interplay between different “levels” (military, political, etc.). As a bonus, in providing examples to back up the above, he provides you with a neat history of ...more
Tj Connor
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible book. I can't wait to read Quigley's other books. I would advise anyone to read any of his books. Quigley gives great information on how Civilizations form and how they fall. He goes into how institutions are formed and why they cease to serve their original purpose. He explains historical analysis. It isn't just knowledge, but understanding what it means. Although, I would urge that if you are not good at analysis, you might want to get some extra understand about Quigley ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Instruments of expansion --time--> self-serving institution
Gordon Kwok
An interesting but difficult book by the famous Georgetown University Professor. The State Department and many prestigious institutions public and private are littered with former students of Professor Quigley.
Yogy TheBear
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book, by those who arrived here from Tragedy and Hope, and who know who Quigley is and his signifience, should regard this book as his methodology of studying and presenting history, and I am not saying that this is not a history book , many parts from Tragedy and Hope become much more clear and are treated in detail here as well .
But what Quigley dose here is an attempt to transform history into a social science as economy is today. This hase nothing to do with Marxist scientific
Sam Motes
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Views societal changes based on the human potentialities of Military, political, economic, social, religious, and intellectual perspectives. Man has an innate drive to achieve his potentialities that drives civilations forward through the continuum based evolutionary process of what Quigley calls cultural morphology. Quigley argues that all Societies go through evolutionary steps from birth through decline and failure and then examines many of the greatest societies i. Our history through this ...more
If one picks this up in hopes of finding a plethora of institutional analysis, one will come away disappointed. Most of this work is a basic, sweeping account of history, with passing examples Quigley uses to illustrate his seven stages of civilization.

Beyond that, he does not go into technical theoretical analysis of his model, as it might concern law and language. Perhaps he wrote this work merely as an introductory one and intended his other books as more detailed accounts of various
Asails F
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Sorry about the low rating. For the time it was written I should of been more generous but not to be boring:

I prefer stories that show the human condition as a result of events. This work is very wide in scope and narrow at the same time. We know the corpulent rich do terrible things but lets go a little deeper into the problems they cause.

These groups we know have little to do with the big innovations of our times but do have great influence over the control of those innovations.

Maybe we need
Erroll Treslan
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read and yet is a difficult read. Carroll Quigley was undoubtedly a brilliant historian. He sets out a compelling analysis of all major civilizations by showing that each passes through seven identifiable stages: 1. Mixture 2. Gestation 3. Expansion 4. Age of conflict 5. Universal Empire 6. Decay 7. Invasion. Like Darwinism itself, the idea that all civilizations evolve and die is nihilistic. However, this book is a great example of an idea that Quigley reinforces in his ...more
Pat Rolston
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Having read, "Tragedy and Hope," by the same author I had high expectations and indeed they were met. Anyone with a passing interest in wanting a new perspective regarding the world in which we live and our history needs to give this author a chance. Not an easy read in that he makes you stop and think, so you will be a better informed person as a result. His audience was high functioning so the author challenges the reader with ideas and insights in commensurate fashion. Quigley is the favorite ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Superb. More than just a historian, Quigley is an integrator--he combines observation, methodology, and pragmatism in looking at the evolution of society. I haven't read much history, but this book provides value beyond simply looking at what happened. It is also, for the most part, sharply written and provides an easy read.
Octave Boussaton
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
that's a _great_ book, despite a few affirmations he makes that are just wrong, the one that stroke me the most was when he said that only the western civilization could bring the idea of "romantic love" to the world, but these are clearly not out of dishonnesty, the book's just 60 years old so it'd just need an update on a couple of occasions. very interesting book !
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: development
Best work of its kind. THE book to read on historical analysis. Better than Toynbee, better than Durant. Changes the way you read and think about not only history, but the present as well. Read Quigley. Also read Mancur Olson, only then then read EVERYONE ELSE.
Strong Extraordinary Dreams
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
As huge as the name suggests.
Bill Desjardins
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Illuminating.
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American historian and theorist of the evolution of civilizations.

Noted for his teaching work as a professor at Georgetown University, for his academic publications, and for his research on secret societies.

He was an instructor at Princeton and Harvard; a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the House Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration; and the U.S. Navy.
“To know is not too demanding: it merely requires memory and time. But to understand is quite a different matter: it requires intellectual ability and training, a self conscious awareness of what one is doing, experience in techniques of analysis and synthesis, and above all, perspective.” 0 likes
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