February 23rd 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Something rotten led to fish-kill: perhaps fishy environmentalism

EDITORIAL Resistance grows to Beijing's soft-power push

CANBERRA OBSERVED Climate change: deadly ... to political leaders

TECHNOLOGY Electric cars: UK taxpayers subsidise rich greenies

BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION A step too small?

CYBER SECURITY Chinese smartphone threat extends way beyond Huawei

SOCIETY Such grandeur of spirit

POLITICS John Hewson should have as sturdy a Constitution

FINANCE Hayne royal commission sets agenda for bank reform

FAMILY RELATIONS Dad: a girl's first and most influential love

COMMENTARY Words gone feral: rights and equality

MEDICINE AND CULTURE Book captures tragedy of falling foul of a fanatic

SOCIETY AND CULTURE A dog's life: reflections of a grey nomad

HUMOUR

MUSIC Serialism a killer: Ideas tend to get in the way

CINEMA Cold Pursuit: Revenge served up manic

BOOK REVIEW Why the West and nowhere else

BOOK REVIEW The escalation of horror and atrocity

LETTERS

FAMILY AND SOCIETY The end of Liberalism

Books promotion page

HOW THE WEST WON:
The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

Rodney Stark

$55.90


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by Rodney Stark

(Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2014)
Hardcover: 432 pages
ISBN: 9781610170857
Price: AUD$55.90

 

Book description

In this page-turning, myth-busting history, acclaimed author Rodney Stark shows exactly why Western civilisation triumphed over other cultures — and why we all should be thankful it did.

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 this sweeping new look at Western civilisation.

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 notion that the universe functions according to rational rules that can be discovered, and the emphasis on human freedom and secure property rights.

Taking readers on a thrilling journey from ancient Greece to the present, Stark challenges much of the received wisdom about Western history. How the West Won 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 there was no “Scientific Revolution” in the 17th century;

• Why scholars’ recent efforts to dismiss the importance of battles are ridiculous: had the Greeks lost at the Battle of Marathon, we probably would never have heard of Plato or Aristotle.

Stark also 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 copied from the Chinese and Muslims; that Europe became rich 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 — favourable climates, abundant natural resources, guns and steel.

How the West Won displays Rodney Stark’s gifts for lively narrative history and making the latest scholarship accessible to all readers. This bold, insightful book will force you to rethink your understanding of the West and the birth of modernity — and to recognise that Western civilisation really has set itself apart from other cultures.

 

About the author

Rodney Stark is a conservative American sociologist of religion. He is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, an independent Baptist university in Waco, Texas,, co-director of the university’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and founding editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion.

Stark has written over 30 books, including The Rise of Christianity (1996), and more than 140 scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as prejudice, crime, suicide and city life in ancient Rome. He has twice won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, for The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation (1985, with William Sims Bainbridge), and for The Churching of America 1776–1990 (1992, with Roger Finke).

 

Endorsements for How the West Won

“Stark has a vigorous prose style and a gift for clear explanation. The pace is swift, and the narrative thrilling.” — New York Times

“Fun to read, full of anecdote and incident ... Mr Stark is especially adept at challenging received ideas.” — Wall Street Journal

“Fresh, blunt and highly persuasive.” — Newsweek

“[Stark’s] works are an encouraging corrective to the anti-Western history routinely taught in our schools.” — New Oxford Review

“Gripping, with tales of courage and desperation, outsized characters, and fate of cultures hanging in the balance.... Masterful…. Sets the record straight.” — National Catholic Register


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