John's Reviews > From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun
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's review
Aug 05, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010

500 years in 800 pages. That's obviously a difficult task. Barzun is perhaps one of the most widely read authors I've ever read. He's written scholarly books in many different areas of study including art, history, journalism, and more. I was hoping for a different kind of book. This is essentially a history of movements in the past 500 years--emphasizing the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Industrialism, and our modern era. It is interesting how he highlights some things and barely mentions others. He seemed to emphasize French history and thought more than I would have expected, though he is French himself.

This is a book worth reading in chunks, but I wouldn't recommend reading it front to back as I did. It is a difficult task and I didn't think it was worth it. Barzun is a humanist, not a Christian and this comes through clearly in his writing.

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