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Civilization Hardcover – 1969


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; Book Club ed. edition (1969)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000LB7BOG
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gargan on August 22, 2010
This series has lately been dismissed by shallow art history charlatans who relish theory over the connoisseurship of the eye. Clark suffers only from the irresistible urge to tell the truth; some cultures are more exquisite and developed than others, and the artistic record gives evidence to that fact. Beautifully filmed, artfully argued, timeless.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Ash on May 31, 2011
This is the companion book to Sir Kenneth's famous TV series of the same name. Actually, it IS the TV series. The text of each chapter is a literal transcription of Clark's words from each episode. If I were reviewing the TV series I would give it 5 stars, but as the book pales visually in comparison, I have downgraded my rating slightly. That's not the only reason, however. As much as I like Sir Kenneth's presentation and enjoyed the show, I find his depressing conclusion to the series somewhat baffling. Just try reading the final chapter (in fact the final paragraphs of the final chapter) and see if you can figure out what the hell he is saying. Writing at the beginning of the 1970's, is Clark saying that civilization is going down the toilet? Is he saying that there will be no more good art? Was he afraid that nuclear holocaust was just around the corner? I don't know. I can't figure it out.
That being said, I've read both volumes of Sir Kenneth's autobiography and I KNOW how intensely he felt art. It paralyzed him. Some paintings could move him to tears. Whether his view of civilization is really just his views on art, this is indeed a personal take.
By the way, it is interesting to compare Clark on the Ecstasy of St. Theresa with Simon Schama's ludicrous rambling on the same subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Jantzen on March 12, 2014
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Kenneth Clark's TV series "Civilisation" first arrived on British television, bringing him justly great fame and a lifetime peerage. This book was derived from that series, and is an excellent presentation of the story of the development of civilization in the Western world, mainly. He uses art--in its various manifestations--to develop the story line. If you saw the BBC series on PBS in the US, you will know how effectively he communicates important ideas. This book is a great companion in which to linger over the ideas that fly by in the video version.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Chris Crawford on November 20, 2010
I would give this book five stars if its title were "The Story of Western Art" or "Art and the Soul of Western Civilization" or some such. I was fooled by the title into thinking that this was a grand overview of Western Civilization, a kind of short version of "The Story of Civilization" by the Durants. I was bitterly disappointed that the book was not at all about its title. It's a brilliant review of the art of Western civilization and what it tells us about the ethos of that civilization through the course of time. Although I am not much interested in the history of western art, I nevertheless found the book rather interesting. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the history of western art. I'm not interested, so the book was a disappointment to me.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus on March 25, 2012
This book is one man's random observations on some aspects of European art mostly from 15th to 19h century.

The title is indeed misleading. The book does not cover the history of civilization, western civilization or even history of western art. Many of these random observations are downright silly and mass-pleasing in my opinion. It is quite gossipy as it gets into private lives of artists and tries to make conclusions about their art based on assumptions about their inner lives. The truth is that we cannot fairly judge people and their art based on simple biographical facts known from their lives. Freud's incorrect views of the human mind influenced many people's ways of thinking including Kenneth Clark's. I never saw the TV series so my judgement is solely based on what I see in the book.
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