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  • Worlds at War

  • The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West
  • Auteur(s): Anthony Pagden
  • Narrateur(s): John Lee
  • Durée: 20 h et 36 min

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Description

In the tradition of Jared Diamond and Jacques Barzun, prize-winning historian Anthony Pagden presents a sweeping history of the long struggle between East and West, from the Greeks to the present day.

The relationship between East and West has always been one of turmoil. In this historical tour de force, a renowned historian leads us from the world of classical antiquity, through the Dark Ages, to the Crusades, Europe's resurgence, and the dominance of the Ottoman Empire, which almost shattered Europe entirely. Pagden travels from Napoleon in Egypt to Europe's carving up of the finally moribund Ottomans - creating the modern Middle East along the way - and on to the present struggles in Iraq.

Throughout, we learn a tremendous amount about what "East" and "West" were and are, and how it has always been competing worldviews and psychologies, more than religion or power grabs, that have fed the mistrust and violence between East and West. In Pagden's dark but provocative view, this struggle cannot help but go on.

©2008 Anthony Pagden (P)2008 Tantor

Ce que les critiques en disent

"An accessible and lucid exploration of the history of the East-West split....Fans of Jacques Barzun and Jared Diamond will be most impressed by Pagden's big picture perspective." ( Publishers Weekly)

Ce que les auditeurs disent de Worlds at War

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  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 2008-07-02

Great story, with a lot of unfamiliar names

This is a great story -- as the cover of the book says, it's the 2500-year history of conflict between East and West. The geographical locations are actually a bit more specific than that: the East is the Middle East (the Persian Empire, the the Safavid Empire, the Ottoman Empire); the West is mostly Western Europe (Greece, Rome, Spain, France, Germany). The history is partly political and military, and partly intellectual: all the great battles are here, but considerable space is also given, for example, to the ideas about "Orientalism" that spread through Europe in the 18th century. The narrative moves rapidly and includes a rich amount of surprising detail.

Then there are the names. One of the strengths of the book is also one of its weaknesses, at least as an audiobook. I've read a lot of world history, but even so I found the book loaded with unfamiliar names, many of them Arabic, French, or Spanish (a good thing, since I was hoping to learn something new); and I found it difficult at times, with John Lee's very posh and precise pronunciation, to visualize the spelling (a bad thing). I discovered in the process that I'm a much more visually-oriented learner than I realized. (I got around the problem by checking the book out of the library and looking stuff up.)

Compared to Pagden's "Peoples and Empires," also available here, this is both longer and more focused: it doesn't try to tell all of world history, just as much as possible about this one aspect of it. John Lee is a great narrator, and it's an absorbing and rewarding listen.

59 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2009-01-28

Good history

Well-read audiobook. The place names are often difficult because of their relative obscurity to our current history texts. In many cases, further study must start with a Web-search for the persons mentioned to discover the spelling of the places mentioned.

The major downside of this book is the author's militant secular viewpoint. The thesis of the book seems to contain only the factious and warlike nature of religion throughout history, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim. As this is a book on conflict between the East and West, that would be understandable if it stopped there. The author however, through frequent asides and careful choice of adjectives, displays his disdain for Christianity and Islam. As this is a scholarly work, the bias may be founded in his academia, but it is, nonetheless, a clear and ubiquitous bias.

Probably not a good read for high-schoolers or younger.

35 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • 2011-10-15

Absorbing, well-researched, not unbiased history

I found this book a fascinating exploration of the long history of conflict between East and West, and the way the powers in charge of each sphere (whether Greek, Trojan, Roman, Persian, Christian, Muslim, French, Ottoman, British, or Arabic) have often seen themselves as inheritors of all the earlier struggles. Of course, it should be noted right away that by ???The East???, Pagden generally means the near and middle east, the lands from Asia Minor to the region that's modern Iran -- China, India, and Japan don???t figure into the book at all. In fact, his focus is really more on the development of the West and its experience with the East than the reverse.

It should also be noted that Pagden has a strong bias towards liberal, secular, democratic values, which he feels are the essence of Western culture (he states as much in the forward). Religion, both Christianity and Islam, are portrayed in a dim light, as institutional obstacles to reason, human rights, and progress. Not that I don???t largely agree with this assessment, but some readers might take offense. Still, he seems to be fair-minded about it, giving Muslim societies credit for brief periods of learning and relative tolerance, and indicting the modern West for its more counterproductive forays into the Middle East, which understandably stoked the fires of Muslim distrust and resentment. Indeed, the final chapter warns, convincingly, of continued bloody conflict between an uncompromising pan-Islamic worldview, whose adherents have enjoyed few of the fruits of the West and see little of their value, and countries like the US, whose leaders naively assume that their own democratic attitudes are universally held, and fail to account for a divide with deep historic roots.

However, I don???t want to place too much emphasis on modern politics, which take a back seat to the fact that this is a comprehensive, well-researched history, outlining many episodes over 2,500 years that I was only dimly aware of (e.g. Napoleon???s adventures in Egypt), and pulling them into a readable, continuous narrative. Especially interesting was reading of the ways in which the West???s often-skewed perception of the East as an "other" to strive against has nonetheless shaped its own attitudes towards freedom, tolerance, and science.

20 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Duff
  • 2009-06-06

Excellent historical survey

This is a hugely worthwhile survey of east-west relationships if, like me, you didn't specialize in "Oriental Studies". This seemed a balanced political history overall. Gigantic chucks of information are jettisoned in any history; more so one encompassing 2,500 years. Of the periods and traditions I've studied, I can attest that the author covered most well enough to maintain the narrative without sacrificing too much detail. There's nothing about the Viking expansion into the region, and the Russians get short shrift. Never mind. Pagden did a brilliant job at constructing a fascinating, coherent, and challenging essay on the ties and fractures in euro-asian relationships.

I had just finished this a day before President Obama's Cairo speech. Pagden's history and analysis gave me background enough to hear nuances I would have never heard.

Oh, and the narration is excellent as well.

17 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    1 out of 5 stars
  • George
  • 2009-05-23

very one sided pro Turksi

trying to explain the armenian genocide, the author tries to explain it by mentioning that the Turks thought the Armenians killed Turks when they declared independence in 1915. this ignores the murder of all educated and leaders of the armenian community in the 1890's.

typical british view that created the current trouble in Middle east with their meddling.

8 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anna
  • 2011-05-04

The beat goes on.

This book was fascinating to listen to at a time,rather later than some earlier reviews, when a new wave of unrest sweeps through middle eastern muslim countries.Just what is behind it all is something of a mystery, but the persisting differences in world views that Pagden discusses continue with undiminished potency today. The book illuminates so many salient points in the long and everlasting socio- religious history of the human race.One muslim belief I share: history does repeats itself, on and on and on.

6 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel
  • 2010-12-23

Great sweeping book

Really enjoyed this book. The author takes a sweeping view history, covering events from the ancient Greeks through the Romans and to the present day. While told from a bit of UK perspective, I learned alot, especially concerning the French occupation of Egypt and the long term ramifications of that. He gets a few of his dates wrong toward the end concerning the US invasion of Iraq, but overall a good book. My only other comment is that his conclusions seem a bit muddled at the end concerning whether there is a permanent conflict between the West and the Islamic world simply based on their religious/ideological bases.

6 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gary
  • 2014-06-12

Four legs good, two legs bad

The author's make-believe take on the East excludes India, barely mentioned, and China and Japan, mentioned even less. By the East he means the Persian Empire and the Islamic middle east. He has a fantasy that the history of the world can be described by the "battle line drawn" between Europe and the East over 2300 years ago.

The author is never at a wont for describing the East in generic negative terms. I'll bet he referred to directly or quoted others that the East is "feminine" more than 10 times. What does it mean when a culture is feminine? He never tells me, but he clearly uses that as a negative trait. Besides, why would it be bad for a culture to be feminine or good if it were masculine? The East, according to him (or the ones he quotes favorably) are lover of boys and are disordered and not for liberty. Even when he talks about the advances made under Islamic civilizations during the West's dark ages, he just dismisses them by saying since they were ruled by such disordered leaders there indigenous populations got to flourish because they were poorly led and got to be themselves because of the poor leadership, whatever.

Western Civilization History is usually told by looking within and very little of the between is told. The author does tell the story by focusing only on the between providing the listener with insights into the development of the West which is not usually told in such great detail in survey of history books. That's the feature of the book I liked and it's why I tolerated the author's comic book characterizations of the "East", but in the end his characterizations of Persia and Islam sounded like the pigs in Animal farm repeating a mantra over and over that "four legs good, two legs bad" or in his case "Western Christians good, East Muslim bad".

Life is too short to read books that have such an obvious silly take on world history and I would recommend a good book on World History instead such as "The History of the World" by Roberts instead of this comic book characterization.

5 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • C. Ireland
  • 2011-06-05

Compelling analysis, but factually unreliable

Presents the compelling argument that Europe and the middle east have been culturally divided since pre-history, irrespective of which empires and religions have ruled them. Main concern is the author is careless to the point of amateurish with his fact(oid) checking. These are rarely central to his thesis but do detract from its impact. (ie "'Veni vidi vici' uttered by Julius Caesar after his conquest of Britain' - um, no, he reputedly said them of Pontus, and his brief incursion into Britain was anything but a conquest)

5 les gens ont trouvé cela utile

  • Au global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ilinca
  • 2011-05-03

Great book, to be taken with a grain of salt

Sure, the author's viewpoint is militantly secular. That's why it's so very funny to read comments urging him to go to "the source", i.e. the Bible.
For anyone not offended by secularism, it's a great book, extremely well read, with just a few issues that one must take with a grain of salt: his implied definition of what is East/West, his attachment to certain cultures at the expense of others (Russia and China, some have argued), and a sometimes strained polarization of the two notions. But it is all in all a great discussion of history; it can only do you good :)

5 les gens ont trouvé cela utile