Why the West Rules-- for Now: The Patterns of History, and what They Reveal about the Future

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McClelland & Stewart, 2010 - Civilization - 750 pages
8 Reviews
Why does the West rule? In this magnum opus, eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing on 50,000 years of history, archeology, and the methods of social science, to make sense of when, how, and why the paths of development differed in the East and West — and what this portends for the 21st century.

There are two broad schools of thought on why the West rules. Proponents of "Long-Term Lock-In" theories such as Jared Diamond suggest that from time immemorial, some critical factor — geography, climate, or culture perhaps — made East and West unalterably different, and determined that the industrial revolution would happen in the West and push it further ahead of the East. But the East led the West between 500 and 1600, so this development can't have been inevitable; and so proponents of "Short-Term Accident" theories argue that Western rule was a temporary aberration that is now coming to an end, with Japan, China, and India resuming their rightful places on the world stage. However, as the West led for 9,000 of the previous 10,000 years, it wasn't just a temporary aberration. So, if we want to know why the West rules, we need a whole new theory. Ian Morris, boldly entering the turf of Jared Diamond and Niall Ferguson, provides the broader approach that is necessary, combining the textual historian's focus on context, the anthropological archaeologist's awareness of the deep past, and the social scientist's comparative methods to make sense of the past, present, and future — in a way no one has ever done before.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LynnCar - LibraryThing

This is the best overview of world history that I have read. It ties different aspects of development together and makes sense of most aspects of the world. I particularly liked the economic connection and the future discussions of current trends. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

Ian Morris has written a highly pleasurable comparative history of China and the West that highlights the similarities and parallelism of the human development at both edges of the Eurasian continent ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

IAN MORRIS is Willard Professor of Classics, Professor of History, and Director of the Archaeology Centre at Stanford University. He has written and edited a number of books, most recently The Greeks: History, Culture, Society and The Ancient Economy: Evidence and Models, and has appeared on a number of television networks, including the History Network and PBS. This is his first trade book.

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