Brett Williams's Reviews > The Wisdom of History

The Wisdom of History by J. Rufus Fears
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Rather than a linear ancient-to-modern treatment, Professor Fears jumps about to exemplify his 10 lessons of history. It works. Among the lessons: people don’t learn from history, freedom is not a universal desire, power is and religion is rocket fuel, the Mid East is the graveyard of empires, and nations rise and fall on decisions by leaders not social movements (that great tug-o-war between historians).

I found his lectures on Rome of particular interest, especially the fall of Republic with so many identities between them and us, the US: money corrupted politics, lavish government debt to keep or buy office, the Optimate party vs. the Populares party, both with the purpose to ensure legislation from the other side never passed.

Fears style is sometimes dramatic, occasionally melodramatic, but he’s excited about his topic, I didn’t mind. He often speaks from the standpoint of his subject, e.g. Genghis Khan as one of the greatest of conquerors (savage murderers). But he points out the hypocrisies throughout, notably in the final half dozen lectures. That said, he does seem to give excess credit to Judaism as though longevity were evidence of something unique, as it may well be, but it seemed to be something more, like… What? Supernatural? If antiquity is the proof, then Hindus win that contest.

A fine series. I look forward to the 200 pages of study guide – transcripts read rather than heard, with maps.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2019 – Started Reading
January 27, 2019 – Shelved
March 20, 2019 – Finished Reading

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