The Face of Europe

The Face of Europe

The Face of Europe

The Face of Europe

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to provide something of a profile of the history of western civilization. This will, of necessity, involve personal judgments. Because people do and should hold differing opinions, this book will probably provoke argument, even gentle anger, from those who see things differently. History is not a bland subject to be dished out and swallowed without the possibility of indigestion. I think what follows is quite palatable, although others may differ in their appraisal. Nevertheless, I assume that indigestion is preferable to a loss of appetite through boredom.

There is no pretense that this book will cover all major topics, although an attempt will be made to clarify the principles of selection. We do follow the most common chronology of western civilization studies--that is, from the Greek civilization to the contemporary world. But rather than follow a brief assessment of the Greeks with another of the Romans and then with the medievals, and so on, I propose to view each civilization primarily in terms of what it contributed to the next phase of western development and to what we are today. This involves selectivity; for example, a host of features of Greek society, while fascinating in themselves, simply were not passed on. These elements of Greek society should be studied, but they detract from a sense of history as process, as an explaining of subsequent events. Our concern is with trends that shape who we now are and that even may affect our choices for the future.

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