Worlds at War: The 2,500 - Year Struggle Between East and West

Overview

"The differences that divide West from East go deeper than politics, deeper than religion, argues Anthony Pagden. To understand this volatile relationship, and how it has played out over the centuries, we need to go back before the Crusades, before the birth of Islam, before the birth of Christianity, to the fifth century BCE.

Europe was born out of Asia and for centuries the two shared a single history. But when the Persian emperor Xerxes tried to conquer Greece, a struggle began which has never ceased. This ...

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Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West

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Overview

"The differences that divide West from East go deeper than politics, deeper than religion, argues Anthony Pagden. To understand this volatile relationship, and how it has played out over the centuries, we need to go back before the Crusades, before the birth of Islam, before the birth of Christianity, to the fifth century BCE.

Europe was born out of Asia and for centuries the two shared a single history. But when the Persian emperor Xerxes tried to conquer Greece, a struggle began which has never ceased. This book tells the story of that long conflict.

First Alexander the Great and then the Romans tried to unite Europe and Asia into a single civilization. With the conversion of the West to Christianity and much of the East to Islam, a bitter war broke out between two universal religions, each claiming world dominance. By the seventeenth century, with the decline of the Church, the contest had shifted from religion to philosophy: the West's scientific rationality in contrast to those sought ultimate guidance it in the words of God.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed the disintegration of the great Muslim empires - the Ottoman, the Mughal, and the Safavid in Iran - and the increasing Western domination of the whole of Asia. The resultant attempt to mix Islam and Western modernism sparked off a struggle in the Islamic world between reformers and traditionalists which persists to this day.

The wars between East and West have not only been the longest and most costly in human history, they have also formed the West's vision of itself as independent, free, secular, and now democratic. They have shaped, and continue to shape, the nature of the modern world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199569779
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 0.10 (w) x 0.10 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Pagden has published widely on both Spanish and European history and has worked as a translator and as a publisher in addition to his many academic posts. He taught at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard before a professorship at Johns Hopkins University, and he is currently Distinguished Professor of Political Science and History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Preface

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Give it a miss

    I'm having little luck with my reading of recently published historical works from US academics. Harvey sash's account of the world in Beethoven's time was marred by his unhistorical imposition of 'democratic' ideas onto Beethoven. Pagden is arguing from the same unhistorical premisses. The book makes hints at relevance to America's current efforts in the Middle East. Pagden explicitly notes that by 'East' he does not mean the Far East, whose civilization he believes has similar bases to that of the West. What a breathtaking and wrong-headed assertion! He presents the great Greek and Persian confrontation as a battle of democracy and autocracy. This is a typical sweeping generalization. Sparta, part of the Greek confederation, was scarcely a democracy and Persia fostered something like democratic rule in her Ionian cities. Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, he says, was motivated by a his commitment to eliminate 'all belief, all religion'. This of a man who came to a more-or-less amicable agreement with the Pope. I'm looking for popular US historians who are not obsessing on using their trade to promote democracy and the American way. Excuse this facetiousness. There are plenty and I have read some lately. Pagden is not one of them.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Every worldly citizen should read this.

    As a novice in Middle Eastern history, "Worlds at War" wrapped me in a historical journey that took me into the truth of this unending war between what we are considered "West" and the "East".
    I would highly recommend this to anyone seeking knowledge and account of the current war we are experiencing today. Though we can carry on with our everyday lives in absence of fear and paranoia of political issues, we must understand that deep within the walls of our nations, our countries, and even our individual beliefs, there underlies matters of hatred, malice, suffering and brutal ownership that cannot be ignored.
    Like a volcano in dormancy, we must still monitor its behavior.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2008

    Prolixity for 2,500 years

    This is a sprawling, prolix, undisciplined but quite interesting book. It would benefit by editing. The number of typographical errors are legion. For example, on page 143 it says 'know that every Muslim is a Muslim's bother(sic)..!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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