Sowell, the acknowledged modern master of cultural analysis, cranks off the conclusion to a trilogy thirty years in the making, and thousands of years in scope. Yet he is talking about you.
How did we get to be the people we are, in anything beyond an individual sense? This work examines the history of events in cultural development in a thoroughly engaging fashion by teasing out the geographic, economic, technologic and other factors which produce not only outcomes, but the events themselves. It is one thing to know why a faction won a battle. It is another entirely to know why that battle occurred in the first place, and still another to responsibly draw causal chains between outcomes and following events.
Why did European trade ships sail past resource-rich Africa to reach less-blessed shores at greater expense and risk? Because sub-Saharan Africa has few natural harbors or navigable rivers for trade, and a physical environment hostile to outsiders. Using the technology of the day, Africa might as well have been the moon. Only items with a spectacular value to weight ratio made it out of Africa for trade, *or in for development*. Exporting cotton or wheat from Africa was out, while gold and slaves were profitable.
Why did the magnificent Inca and predecessor empires remain isolated without trade or travel to speak of? They had the wheel and axle, and used it for children's toys, but they had no draft animals which would have made wheeled transport a productive pursuit. This is part of what doomed them to a rising and falling succcession of independent states, which were more easily picked off than might otherwise have been, both by other Mesoamerican cultures and the eventual arrival of the Europeans.
Why did the people of the British Isles not prosper as the Romans departed? Or for that matter why is this true of *most* post-colonial or post-empire localities? If colonialism is so bad, why do thing fall apart when it ends?
This book proposes and defends answers to questions such as these. If the all-too comfortable answers offered by those with an axe to grind leave you with an uneasy feeling that there is more to the story than is commonly admitted to, then this book is for you. We cannot know who we are without knowing who we were, and more pointedly, whom we were not. We cannot reasonably assess or correct problems in modern society without knowing what our society is, and what it is not.
This book is to culture what Sagan's COSMOS was for the hard sciences. Enlightening, inspiring, authoritative, and a crackling good listen. BUY THIS AUDIOBOOK. I have listened through three times now. There will be more. I am so-o-o-o getting my money's worth out of this.
This is an awesome history of Carthage, with a fresh look at how it existed in its own times and setting, as opposed to the way it appeared to Greek and Roman historians. Obviously, we have no opportunity to do primary research on Carthaginian mores and motives, but the author does an outstanding job of dissecting much of the conventional wisdom about Carthage, its people, and the events surrounding its rise and fall.
Some reviews have addressed a long dry patch somewhat early in the work, and I did in fact wind up forwarding past a few chapters. Yet this is what makes the book definitive. I was blown away by the level of detail assessing sources such as works of art, artifacts, and secondhand histories through the economic drivers, likely cultural influences, and geographic facts of life lend the author's own analysis a great weight. Just the same, this section is a bit dry if you are not already conversant with much of the artifact-based history. Having heard a good sampling of the evidence, I skipped much of it, decided to take him at his word and got back to the juicy mainstream of the book.
This is a powerful and convincing history well told by the writer and well-read by the narrator. A top-notch effort and well worth not only your money, but your time and attention.
If you were interested enough to check out this title, then this IS a book you want.
This is of course an old text and a classic, so I will reserve only a single comment for the comment. First, however, the narration and production are excellent. No doubt you, considering buying this work, are concerned that it will be dry or dull. Not at all! I thoroughly enjoyed this effort.
The only complaint I have is with the content itself, and it stands out. If it means anything to you, you will notice the special venom Gibbon pours upon one group, and unjustifiedly so. It speaks more of the prejudices of 19th-century Britain than anything of Rome and her contemporaries. It is a shame, and it mars an otherwise perfect work.
Let this not deter you from rushing RIGHT OUT and buying this audiobook. If you care enough to read the review, then THIS IS the version you want.
Finally, I had zero technical problems with this or any other audiobook in the last year. Whatever the issues were, they have been thoroughly wiped out.
5/5 Buy it now.
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