The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 30, 2009 - History - 860 pages
15 Reviews
The Rise of the West, winner of the National Book Award for history in 1964, is famous for its ambitious scope and intellectual rigor. In it, McNeill challenges the Spengler-Toynbee view that a number of separate civilizations pursued essentially independent careers, and argues instead that human cultures interacted at every stage of their history. The author suggests that from the Neolithic beginnings of grain agriculture to the present major social changes in all parts of the world were triggered by new or newly important foreign stimuli, and he presents a persuasive narrative of world history to support this claim.

In a retrospective essay titled "The Rise of the West after Twenty-five Years," McNeill shows how his book was shaped by the time and place in which it was written (1954-63). He discusses how historiography subsequently developed and suggests how his portrait of the world's past in The Rise of the West should be revised to reflect these changes.

"This is not only the most learned and the most intelligent, it is also the most stimulating and fascinating book that has ever set out to recount and explain the whole history of mankind. . . . To read it is a great experience. It leaves echoes to reverberate, and seeds to germinate in the mind."—H. R. Trevor-Roper, New York Times Book Review
 

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Review: The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community

User Review  - Goodreads

McNeill is the first one ever to have written a truely world-history (Spengler and Toynbee before him were just speculative stories). Above all, I appreciated his extensive elaboration on the Middle ... Read full review

Review: The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community

User Review  - Bob Shair - Goodreads

First read this in college more than 50 years ago. In rereading it, I realized how much it shaped my understanding of the world. Of course I understood it better now than at age 18. A well-written, enjoyable history of the world. Read full review

Contents

PART II EURASIAN CULTURAL BALANCE 500 BC1500 AD
247
PART III THE ERA OF WESTERN DOMINANCE 1500 ADTO THE PRESENT
563
CONCLUSION
794

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About the author (2009)

William H. McNeill is the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and the College at the University of Chicago. His many books include The Pursuit of Power, The Rise of the West, and Mythistory and Other Essays, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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