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Drawing on a lifetime of studies across a broad territory, highly regarded cultural historian and critic Jacques Barzun here synthesizes the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga which modifies the current impression of Western history as one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination of history, but as a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows that decadence is the normal close to a great period, and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth--tomorrow, or the next day.
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In the last half-millennium, as the noted cultural critic and historian Jacques Barzun observes, great revolutions have swept the Western world. Each has brought profound change--for instance, the remaking of the commercial and social worlds wrought by the rise of Protestantism and by the decline of hereditary monarchies. And each, Barzun hints, is too little studied or appreciated today, in a time he does not hesitate to label as decadent.
To leaf through Barzun's sweeping, densely detailed but lightly written survey of the last 500 years is to ride a whirlwind of world-changing events. Barzun ponders, for instance, the tumultuous political climate of Renaissance Italy, which yielded mayhem and chaos, but also the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo--and, he adds, the scientific foundations for today's consumer culture of boom boxes and rollerblades. He considers the 16th-century varieties of religious experimentation that arose in the wake of Martin Luther's 95 theses, some of which led to the repression of individual personality, others of which might easily have come from the "Me Decade." Along the way, he offers a miniature history of the detective novel, defends Surrealism from its detractors, and derides the rise of professional sports, packing in a wealth of learned and often barbed asides.
Never shy of controversy, Barzun writes from a generally conservative position; he insists on the importance of moral values, celebrates the historical contributions of Christopher Columbus, and twits the academic practitioners of political correctness. Whether accepting of those views or not, even the most casual reader will find much that is new or little-explored in this attractive venture into cultural history. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Jacques Barzun (1907-2012) was born in France and came to the United States in 1920. After graduating from Columbia College, he joined the faculty of the university, becoming Seth Low Professor of History and, for a decade, dean of faculties and provost. The author of some thirty books, he received the Gold Medal for Criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he was twice president.
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Book Description Hardback. Condition: Fine. Seller Inventory # GOR010795503
Book Description [0711-382X] 1988. (Mass market paperback) Fine. 32pp. Stapled double-sided sheets. Includes: "Cheyenne Ribaldry" by William Guerrier and others (edited by Kenneth Croft). Seller Inventory # 115107
Book Description Paperback. Condition: Good. The product of the author's lifetime, this powerful narrative, insterrsperses the author's analysis of wars, philosophy, science, manners, sex, religion, morals, art, et al, from the Reformation to the present day, with biographical sketches of influential historical figures. His conclusion is that the decadence of the current age is merely a watershed for a new age in which Western culture will again flourish. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Seller Inventory # GOR006744475
Book Description Paperback. Condition: Very Good. The product of the author's lifetime, this powerful narrative, insterrsperses the author's analysis of wars, philosophy, science, manners, sex, religion, morals, art, et al, from the Reformation to the present day, with biographical sketches of influential historical figures. His conclusion is that the decadence of the current age is merely a watershed for a new age in which Western culture will again flourish. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory # GOR003481183