The West’s Glorious Journey: What You Don’t Know
Modernity developed only in the West—in Europe and North America. Nowhere else did science and democracy arise; nowhere else was slavery outlawed. Only Westerners invented chimneys, musical scores, telescopes, eyeglasses, pianos, electric lights, aspirin, and soap.
The question is, Why?
Unfortunately, that question has become so politically incorrect that most scholars avoid it. But acclaimed author Rodney Stark provides the answers in his sweeping new survey of Western civilization.
How the West Won demonstrates the primacy of uniquely Western ideas—among them the belief in free will, the commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, the idea that the universe functions according to rational rules that can be discovered, and the emphasis on human freedom and secure property rights. Stark debunks absurd fabrications that have flourished in the past few decades: that the Greeks stole their culture from Africa; that the West’s “discoveries” were all copied from the Chinese and Muslims; that Europe became affluent by plundering the non-Western world. At the same time, he reveals the woeful inadequacy of recent attempts to attribute the rise of the West to purely material causes—to favorable climates, abundant natural resources, guns and steel.
Taking readers on a fascinating journey from ancient Greece to the age of imperialism, How the West Won challenges much of the received wisdom about Western history. Stark shows, for example, why the fall of Rome was the single most beneficial event in the rise of Western civilization; why the “Dark Ages” never happened; why the Crusaders did not march east in pursuit of land and loot or to attack the Muslim world unprovoked; and why there was no scientific “revolution” in the seventeenth century—these brilliant achievements were simply the culmination of scientific progress stretching back centuries.
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