The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-first Century

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9780679766698: The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-first Century

"Ambitious.... The truth is that Fromkin's outline is persuasively thought out and presented."--The Washington Post Book World

As the human race approaches the 21st century, questions of our past trouble us as much as those that concern our future. How did we get here? Where--and how--did Homo sapiens originate? How did we, precariously bipedal, come to dominate the animal kingdom, direct the flow of the Euphrates, fly a rocket to the moon?

David Fromkin, author of A Peace to End All Peace and finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critic Circle Award, provides an arrestingly cogent answer in The Way of the World. With insight and sound scholarship, he reveals how human culture has evolved according to the principles of self-determination--from the footsteps of the first hominids 3.5 million years ago to the efforts of contemporary democracies' to establish a global, lasting peace. Here is a world history wherein early forms of Christianity give way to rationalism, the tyranny of kings crumbles to the merits of representative government, and modern science presents us with the master key to the future. Refreshingly positive, David Fromkin reminds us of the astounding record of human achievement, and the potential in each of us to improve the way of our world.

"Mr. Fromkin recounts 'the greatest story ever told' exceedingly well, aided by a deep knowledge and an elegant prose style."--The Wall Street Journal

"The Way of the World is worldly, civilized, genial."--The Boston Globe

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Review:

Historians and philosophers of history have long debated whether the human story is one of constant improvement and progress, or whether history is instead a wheel that leads us again and again to the same place--the same choices, the same errors. To judge by this slender volume, David Fromkin is an unabashed partisan of the first school. In his view, the logic of history leads to "the only civilization still surviving, the scientific one of the modern world," the civilization of capitalism and technology. That view is, of course, arguable, but Fromkin defends it ably and intelligently. General readers will be more interested in Fromkin's overview of world history, a fast-forward tour of the evolution of civilization from a simple congeries of agriculturalists, as in Sumer, to a collectivity of peoples interested in such ideals as morality and peacemaking. Fromkin's whirlwind approach is sometimes vexing--he treats, for instance, the fall of Rome in just a few sentences, ignoring generations of scholarly inquiry on the multiple causes of that decline--but it nonetheless yields a spirited synthesis of past events and patterns. Fromkin closes by remarking that although the future may promise "a nightmare of nationalist, religious, and language-group wars," the worldwide adoption of an American-style federalism that transcends such distinctions is a more attractive possibility. "For all its faults," he writes, "the American way may prove to be the only viable one to deal with the consequences of the modernizing revolution. If so, the world is in luck, for continuing American leadership, like it or not, seems to be what the world has got." --Gregory McNamee

From the Publisher:

"The origins of [Mr Fromkin's book] lie in a question posed to him by a Wall Street hedge-fund manager over lunch. 'Can you tell the story of humanity and the universe and make it whole?'" Well, actually,' Mr Fromkin replied, 'Yes, I can.' The result is a lyrical tale of humankind's past, present, and future...Mr Fromkin recounts [it] exceedingly well, aided by a deep knowledge and an elegant prose style.--Andrew Stark, The Wall Street Journal

"Superbly crafted...Fromkin has the rare ability to convey a lot of information, often on difficult or sophisticated subjects, with a few beautifully constructed sentences."--Roger Bishop, Bookpage

"Fascinating...engaging...Fromkin identifies the major social, educational, scientific, economic, and governmental trends he believes have significantly contributed to the evolution of humankind."--Booklist

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