Western History books you won't want to set on fire


Recommended Posts

I picked up a textbook on the history of western civilization at Goodwill for a couple bucks. There's a community college in the area, so it was probably used there.

Anyway, I tried to manage through it, but ended up throwing it in the fireplace.

Here are some of the parts the author chose to include:

The Spartans "feared change." (I guess the author was trying to equate them with conservatives)

The Greeks had homosexual relations with boys

The modern island of Lesbos comes from the name of a lesbian Goddess.

The Greeks had many feminist theater plays. (Were they burning their bras back then too?)

The author devoted a page or two to Plato, but only a paragraph to Aristotle.

That's just what I remember. I seriously doubt that those were the most important aspects of Greek civilization.

Can anyone recommend some better books to learn history? What is that author leaving out?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Western History books?

Don’t know about that but my favorite Western writer is Louis L’amour.

I hope someone sees your plight but in the mean time enjoy some quotes from Louis:

“Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity and movement and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.”

“This -- this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl's voice... a moment of captured beauty. He who is truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”

“Knowledge is awareness, and to it are many paths, not all of them paved with logic. But sometimes one is guided through the maze by intuition. One is led by something felt on the wind, something seen in the stars, something that calls from the wastelands to the spirit.”

“One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter - who was a child at the time - asked me, "Daddy, why are you writing so fast?" And I replied, "Because I want to see how the story turns out!”

“When you go to a country, you must learn how to say two things: how to ask for food, and to tell a woman that you love her. Of these the second is more important, for if you tell a woman you love her, she will certainly feed you.”

“Adventure is just a romantic name for trouble. It sounds swell when you write about it, but it's hell when you meet it face to face in a dark and lonely place.”

Link to post
Share on other sites

I seriously doubt that those were the most important aspects of Greek civilization.

Can anyone recommend some better books to learn history? What is that author leaving out?

Welcome to OL. Try Will Durant's The Life of Greece.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the part about Lesbos is even accurate. The story I've always heard is that it was the home of Sappho, a poet who ran a girls' school there. We know very little about her life. She wrote some pretty hot poems to women but others at least as hot to men. Either she was bi or the attempt to put her sexuality and her affections into modern terms is anachronistic and psychologically dubious. In any case, "lesbian," by every other account I've seen, comes from the island and not the other way around.

Lysistrata and Antigone could count as feminist plays, but did the author name any others? Clytemnestra avenges her daughter by killing her husband, but she doesn't get away with it. Medea murders her children out of jealousy over her husband's cheating. A women driven to murder by her obsession with a man hardly qualifies as a feminist heroine.

Barbara Branden years ago recommended The Greek Experience by C.M. Bowra. The edition for sale at Amazon dates from 1996, long after the recommendation, but the original came out in 1957.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank,

Welcome to OL.

I can't think of a book to recommend on ancient world history since I read so little about it, but I sometimes watch videos.

I like what a guy named John Green did with his YouTube channel:

Crash Course

This is aimed at high school kids, but I find it really entertaining.

Green has a section on World History, US History, Literature, Biology, etc. Another Green (Hank Green) does Chemistry there.

He tends to lean slightly left, but he's objective enough about the drawbacks and virtues of both the left and the right that this is only a mild discomfort.

To me, it's a tradeoff for a fun way to get bird's eye views of major topics. I dig into so many things, my mind gets tired. So it's really easy for me to get bored with unfamiliar material. When I come across a person who is fun, happy, openly passionate. well-produced and accurate like Green when I am trying to scratch my curiosity, I stay with him and watch his other stuff. I haven't been disappointed so far, so I'll give him his right to an opinion that is different than mine without bitching about it. (Well... without bitching too much. :) )

Here's a video on Alexander the Great, for example:

I don't know about you, but after watching that video, I feel if I want to delve deeper into Greece at the time of Alexander, I have some context to get me started.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 11 months later...

Western History books?

Don’t know about that but my favorite Western writer is Louis L’amour.

I hope someone sees your plight but in the mean time enjoy some quotes from Louis:

“Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity and movement and changes in the world about him; then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say this I am today, that I shall be tomorrow. The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.”

“This -- this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl's voice... a moment of captured beauty. He who is truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”

“Knowledge is awareness, and to it are many paths, not all of them paved with logic. But sometimes one is guided through the maze by intuition. One is led by something felt on the wind, something seen in the stars, something that calls from the wastelands to the spirit.”

“One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter - who was a child at the time - asked me, "Daddy, why are you writing so fast?" And I replied, "Because I want to see how the story turns out!”

“When you go to a country, you must learn how to say two things: how to ask for food, and to tell a woman that you love her. Of these the second is more important, for if you tell a woman you love her, she will certainly feed you.”

“Adventure is just a romantic name for trouble. It sounds swell when you write about it, but it's hell when you meet it face to face in a dark and lonely place.”

Would you be kind enough to match the books to the appropriate quote if possible. Also I've never read him, but am now eager. What would you say are his best?

Thanks :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

Sorry, Jacob, I just saw your unopened email in my folder.

I no longer remember Louis’s books in order, since I started reading them in the 1970’s. Nor can I point to one and remember the plot or which book was the better one. But I also don’t remember reading a bad book by him. It may be time to reread them.

Recently I reread the entire Travis McGee series and about half the second half of Patrick O’Brien’s Captain Aubrey series and I will reorder his first 10 or so books soon.
Peter

Link to post
Share on other sites

Recently I reread the entire Travis McGee series and about half the second half of Patrick O’Brien’s Captain Aubrey series and I will reorder his first 10 or so books soon.

Peter

Both John D. MacDonald and O'Brien terrific authors. I sort of passed by L'Amour, but he looks to be worth reading. Appears you enjoy a series, with a consistent central character, Peter. I'm reminded of Arkady the investigator, of Martin Cruz Smith's series. Gorky Park, etc. Another great writer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From “Rose Gold,” by Walter Mosley page 297, Easy Rawlings is narrating:
Half an hour later I was sitting in the kitchen reading the only book I could find, “Atlas Shrugged,” a book I had heard lots about, but never read. I knew that Rand’s philosophy Objectivism, was the talisman of free thinkers and capitalists around the world but in the few pages I got through I couldn’t make out her argument.

Of course I wasn’t so much thinking about abstract ideas of laissez-faire capitalism with a million dollars in the hall closet.

From page 307, Easy Rawlings thinking:
For twenty minutes we talked about Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy.

“But she ain’t really no real philosopher,” Jackson said at last.

“She writes philosophy,” I argued.

“Yeah but really it’s just ideas that’s alive in the air,” he said. “She pluck out them concepts and act like they were her own. But you know a real philosopher tells you what’s comin.’ ‘Cause you know the world always gonna change an’ the genuine thinker give you some warnin’ ‘bout things nobody else even suspects.”

I stopped arguing after that. I had learned over time that even if Jackson was wrong he could still talk circles around me.

end quote

Link to post
Share on other sites

I picked up a textbook on the history of western civilization at Goodwill for a couple bucks. There's a community college in the area, so it was probably used there.

Anyway, I tried to manage through it, but ended up throwing it in the fireplace.

Here are some of the parts the author chose to include:

The Spartans "feared change." (I guess the author was trying to equate them with conservatives)

The Greeks had homosexual relations with boys

The modern island of Lesbos comes from the name of a lesbian Goddess.

The Greeks had many feminist theater plays. (Were they burning their bras back then too?)

The author devoted a page or two to Plato, but only a paragraph to Aristotle.

That's just what I remember. I seriously doubt that those were the most important aspects of Greek civilization.

Can anyone recommend some better books to learn history? What is that author leaving out?

Male-Male homosexual connection and domination was a major component of Spartan military discipline.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ba'al Chatzaf, Grumpy Cat ruler of the ten tribes across two continents wrote: Male-Male homosexual connection and domination was a major component of Spartan military discipline.
end quote

Well . . . I don’t think Kirk Douglas had anything to do with it, even if he did portray Spartacus, which sounds like he was from Sparta. One thing I can guarantee about the Spartans and Greeks even though they had a culture of non procreational, or recreational sex, somebody was making beautiful love to the ladies because there are still Greeks today. But no Spartans.
Peter
Technical aside: from MSN or Bing I could not get into OL but Yahoo, took me right here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now