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Worlds at War Audiobook

Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West

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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Jared Diamond and Jacques Barzun, prize-winning historian Anthony Pagden presents a sweeping history of the long struggle between East and West, from the Greeks to the present day.

The relationship between East and West has always been one of turmoil. In this historical tour de force, a renowned historian leads us from the world of classical antiquity, through the Dark Ages, to the Crusades, Europe's resurgence, and the dominance of the Ottoman Empire, which almost shattered Europe entirely. Pagden travels from Napoleon in Egypt to Europe's carving up of the finally moribund Ottomans - creating the modern Middle East along the way - and on to the present struggles in Iraq.

Throughout, we learn a tremendous amount about what "East" and "West" were and are, and how it has always been competing worldviews and psychologies, more than religion or power grabs, that have fed the mistrust and violence between East and West. In Pagden's dark but provocative view, this struggle cannot help but go on.

©2008 Anthony Pagden; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"An accessible and lucid exploration of the history of the East-West split....Fans of Jacques Barzun and Jared Diamond will be most impressed by Pagden's big picture perspective." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (461 )
5 star
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4.0 (227 )
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4.1 (230 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephen Enumclaw, WA, United States 10-21-12
    Stephen Enumclaw, WA, United States 10-21-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hated it"

    Pagden admits his bias in the first few sentences of the book. I found his analysis extremely flawed due to those biases. A history writer should interpret actions and motivations in the context of the era under review, and at least make an effort to avoid letting their personal bias pollute their interpretations. I think Pagden failed on both counts.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah New York, New York 05-12-11
    Noah New York, New York 05-12-11
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    "Rah Rah Rah! Go Europe, Middle East Sucks!"

    This is just about the most polemical, biased history I've ever "read". It consists primarily of a bunch of quotes from Europeans stating how much the Middle East and all its countries and people suck, interspersed with quick glosses of famous battles, leaders, etc. There is no explanation of *why* any of the events unfolded the way they did - no discussion of technology, institutions, etc. The characteristics attributed to "The East" (i.e. the Mideast) are almost laughably inconsistent - Middle Easterners are decadent girly-men one chapter, then rough uncivilized barbarians the next. But the derision and smug superiority never lets up for an instant. There is very little history in this history book, but a whole lot of cheerleading for the author's tribe. If you skip it, you won't be missing much.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Brooklyn, NY, USA 05-23-09
    George Brooklyn, NY, USA 05-23-09 Member Since 2012
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    "very one sided pro Turksi"

    trying to explain the armenian genocide, the author tries to explain it by mentioning that the Turks thought the Armenians killed Turks when they declared independence in 1915. this ignores the murder of all educated and leaders of the armenian community in the 1890's.

    typical british view that created the current trouble in Middle east with their meddling.

    8 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    romuald PHILADELPHIA, PA, United States 02-07-14
    romuald PHILADELPHIA, PA, United States 02-07-14 Member Since 2016
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    "He write, and writes increasingly boring compilati"
    Would you try another book from Anthony Pagden and/or John Lee?

    No


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Tiredness


    What three words best describe John Lee’s performance?

    machine-like


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Never!!!


    Any additional comments?

    I would gladly return it, but since I alredy returned two books, I only wrote this review

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Houma, La 09-28-12
    Charles Houma, La 09-28-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointed somewhat:"
    Would you try another book from Anthony Pagden and/or John Lee?

    Not really


    Has Worlds at War turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Details about Alexander the Great.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I am always interested in history, but I don't like his atheistic views that are so strong that it colors the historical view. He likes to attack the Bible, and not purely accurate in his charge which would make me doubt other facts that may be colored by his views. I know this is normal for college professor material. But having graduated many years ago I don't appreciate the atheistic religion that is taught along with the facts.


    Any additional comments?

    He had many details in history that was very interesting. I just don't like that haughty anti- God reiterate that make young people think that atheism is education.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg North Richmond, Australia 06-15-12
    Greg North Richmond, Australia 06-15-12
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    "Sometimes hard to follow but then so is history"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a long and complex story that is told in a long and complex way. Pagden didn't have me in mind when he was writing it I'm sure; if he did he would have used smaller words. To really understand it the way it is written would take a masters of English but never the less it's a good story and I'm glad I pushed through.... twice. Just keep a dictionary at hand if you're a literary nuffer like me.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jackifus 04-23-12
    jackifus 04-23-12

    Jack

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    "misleading "history""
    Would you try another book from Anthony Pagden and/or John Lee?

    Never by Anthony Pagden ... John Lee ... certainly.


    What could Anthony Pagden have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    He could have written a history - instead of invented one.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    unfortunately, no. When a "history" book misleads - there's no redemption.


    Any additional comments?

    The issue is this: Mr. Pagden attempts to create a narrative - the West democratic and the East prone to monarchy and leader-worship. His vision is lovely: that history has been a continuous fight of the Trojan War. Unfortunately, he imposes his narrative upon the history such that he ignores facts that contradicts his desired story line. He never mentions that all histories of the Persian empire that he vilifies were written by Greeks and so shouldn't be expected to be laudatory or unbiased.

    This just isn't a history. It's a man's wishful vision of a history - in which he paints a narrative and ignores any facts that contradict it.

    If I had never read any other history of the middle-east ... I wouldn't have known that Anthony Pagden stole my money.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle CHARLESTON, SC, United States 04-03-12
    Kyle CHARLESTON, SC, United States 04-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Unsupported secular snarky secular commentary"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A logical framework for the story. The point of the book seemed to be a chronological drive-by ridiculing of all religious believers.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Anthony Pagden again?

    No.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The historical topic is interesting. The authors handling, incredibly poor.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The historical topic is interesting. The authors handling, incredibly poor.


    Any additional comments?

    The author assumes that you share his sense of ironic humor at all historical people and their varied beliefs. However, it doesn't make any arguments as to why that is a correct viewpoint. If you share the author's presuppositions, you may enjoy this book. It does cover an interesting historical comparison of cultures.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy Brandon, FL, United States 03-27-12
    Troy Brandon, FL, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Great start but petered out"

    Pagden did an excellent job up to the French Revolution. From the French Revolution on, he lost his way and went down esoteric side roads totally ignoring the 1500 lb gorilla in the room.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tp 07-19-11
    Tp 07-19-11
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    "Unapologetic pitch for secularism"

    The author states his preference for secularism in a very straightforward fashion. He gives an interesting and occasionally fresh overview of the conflicts between Europe and Asia over the last 2,500 years. The focus is intensely on the philosophic or religious features of those conflicts. The last third is devoted to struggles between the cultures of what he calls the three major monotheisms. Worth the time.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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