Duck Duck Book


12 – eastern origins
02.14.2005, 12:01 am
Filed under: history & geography

The Eastern origins of Western civilization / John M. Hobson.
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2004.
[MCL call number: 909.09821 H684e 2004; one copy, one hold]

I am recommending this book merely on the strength of its subject matter (though the particular copy I have on my desk at the moment has a very nice binding as well).  I haven’t read The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization yet, and the main reason is that it’s pages are densely packed with small type and it presents itself as very scholarly.  In short, it looks a bit dry, and that’s holding me back despite the topic.

Hobson, a British academic, challenges the mythology that it’s the white people who invented everything, built everything, thought of everything, and organized everything worthwhile in the world.  He begins with a history of Islamic, African, Chinese, and other Eastern technological, scientific, and industrial developments during the period 500-1800.  Next is a discussion of the origins of Western ideas about where our cultures’ ideas came from, then an analysis of why it was an advantage for the West to be a late bloomer, and finally, Hobson disucsses what he terms the “twin myths” of the rational Western liberal-democratic state and the divide between Western and Eastern civilization.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?  Well, if you read it, I’d love to hear what you think.

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