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The Decline of the West (Abridged) [Paperback]

Oswald Spengler
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 11, 2006 1400097002 978-1400097005 Reprint
Since its first publication more than eighty years ago, The Decline of the West has ranked as one of the most widely read and talked about books of our time. A sweeping account of Western culture by a historian of legendary intellect, it is an astonishingly informed, forcefully eloquent, thrillingly controversial work that advances a world view based on the cyclical rise and fall of civilizations.

This abridgment presents the most significant of Oswald Spengler’s arguments, linked by illuminating explanatory passages. It makes available in one volume a masterpiece of grand-scale history and far-reaching prophesy that remains essential reading for anyone interested in the factors that determine the course of civilizations.

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The Decline of the West (Abridged) + A Study of History, Vol. 1: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI + A Study of History, Vol. 2: Abridgement of Volumes VII-X
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Editorial Reviews


“Provocative and often dazzling. . . . An exciting excursion through history.” –Time

“Audacious, profound . . . exciting and magnificent.”
The New Republic

“This grand panorama, this imaginative sweep, this staggering erudition, this Nietzschean prose, with its fine color and ringing force, mark a work that must endure.” –The New York Sun

“With monumental learning . . . Spengler surveys man’s cosmic march. . . . Always forceful . . . eloquent.”
The New York Times

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400097002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400097005
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
182 of 197 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE - THIS IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE August 9, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This paperback edition is NOT "The Decline of the West" by Ostwald Spengler. It is an abridgement of that work perpetrated by one Arthur Helps apparently from a German abrdigement by Helmut Werner and an English translation (of the original or the abridgement?) by Charles Francis Atkinson. So if you buy this, you're not buying Spengler (leave aside the issue of how much of Spengler you're getting when you have to read it in translation - who would want to give up all the literature in the world written in languages he doesn't read?). What you're buying is sort-of Spengler.
Now, in fairness, at 400+ pages this isn't exactly the Classic Comic Book retellng of Spengler's long and complex work. But it isn't that work either. And it is very hard to tell this from the Amazon announcement or description of the book. And that's simply wrong. It's a deception. I don't think it's one that was done to trick people. It's more likely the product of sloppiness or inattention.
Some people may believe that a shortened Spengler is just fine for their purposes. I have no disagreement with them. My concern is that those who, like me, would never have even considered buying an abridgement of a book like this can be misled into doing so by an inaccurate description of what the book is.
So now I have a book to return instead of to read. I hope to save someone else that inconvenience.
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90 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Early Postmodern View of the History of the West January 25, 2006
This postmodern chronicle of the western world by early 20th century German historian and philosopher, Oswald Spengler, offers a lot for today's reader despite its flaws. It's an incredibly rich and complex analysis, attacking the causal factors of the development of western culture on many fronts simultaneously: historically, scientifically, artistically, architecturally, ecclesiastically, and so much more. This book is capable of describing many different aspects of western culture to many different readers, depending on who they happen to be and what their interest in western history is. I will only mention three aspects of Spengler's work in my review, since these aspects are what grabbed my attention, bearing in mind that the book contains much more than what I touch on here.

A. Spengler, a westerner himself, constructs detailed accounts in describing the historical development of western Europe. One of his main theses is a distinction between culture and civilization, which he derives from a credible, if difficult to falsify model for a universal cycle of human cultural growth, followed by decline into advanced civilization. For those familiar with biological theory, Spengler's model is essentially a growth curve. The familiar biological model is the lag phase, then the log phase, followed by the stationary phase, and ending in the death phase; which repeats itself virtually ad infinitum. In Spengler's model he labels these phases, respectively, after the seasons, beginning with spring and ending with winter. The spring-time of a people is a mythical phase, where settled economic life grows from a rural peasantry.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
The Decline of the West is mainly known for Spengler's striking insights on diverse subjects that are everywhere in the book. It is also enlightening in it's overall metaphor of organic growth and decline of cultures and civilizations (what the book is mainly known for, but not its only virtue). Also he is very enlightening in his ability to describe universal type - within various subjects - and bring many things into perspective... If you already know basic, universal world history to any extent then Spengler's book - more so, I think, than other famous philosophies of history (Augustine's City of God, Hegel's History lectures, etc...) - can hit like a revelation. It's one of those books, though, that many people learn alot from but find it hard to recommend or - if they're famous or have reputations (academic, etc.) to consider - talk about publicly because people get such different things out of it. This is not an acecdote about liberal or conservative, but I remember reading once that Henry Kissinger gave an edition of Decline of the West to Richard Nixon as a gift. As I was saying, because the book has such large stereotypes attached to it neither of those two very public men would want to talk about the book publicly, but it is read - and is a must read to some degree - by most everybody who is really interested in getting an understanding of history...a subject very central to overall understanding of almost everything...
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Prose (Written on the Wall?) December 20, 2001
Oswald Spengler was a schoolteacher of immense intellect. The book is filled with observations and insights into virtually every known civilization in the sweep of human history. The study and reflection behind the work no doubt contributed to the magisterial tone, confident in the self-evident truths that it conveys.
Spengler codifies the progress and decline of civilizations in search of archtypes and characteristic forms of expression. His classification of civilizational forms, i.e., Magian, Faustian, etc., then is used to show how cultures within each type, at differing stages of development, react to and upon each other.
His discussion of Magian civilization is perhaps the most compelling. He traces its origin to Zoroaster and the apoclyptic Hebrew prophets of the early First Millenium, B.C. The concepts common to all forms of Magian life are discussed: the architectural expression of worship as a "world-cave," seen in the use of the dome and the contrast of light and shadow, illustrate the vivifying force of the battle between Dark and Light, and the coming firey end of the world. This discussion is all the more compelling with the rise of militant Islam, dormant and in retreat before secular modernism when Spengler wrote.
Prophetic statements are rarer than prophetic insights, in that Spengler makes few outright predictions, instead giving trend analysis. The reader may keep turning pages, looking in vain for the elusive prediction of our future, the feeling of which mounts with each vingette illustrating the Law of Civilization and Decay (to borrow Charles Adams' title).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars horrific Kindle edition
atrocious kindle edition, clearly another work put through OCR (optical character recognition) with no editing afterward. Not worth it even though it's free.
Published 11 days ago by Allison A. Slater
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting
I loved it, very well written, it opens you up to another experience many never think about or know about.
Published 25 days ago by D
1.0 out of 5 stars Someone Call An Editor
I'm sure Oswald Spengler is a brilliant mind with an opinion to share. But this particular edition of this book is horribly flawed with misspellings caused by the computer... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Frederick J Long
3.0 out of 5 stars An old Classic
You may agree or disagree with these ideas, you can hardly avoid taking them into account. Most recent philosophy of history refers to Spengler who was very popular under the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by HORST J. HELLE
1.0 out of 5 stars Regarding the FREE Kindle edition, NOT the work itself
Filled with odd formatting, typos, errors, and even missing sections. If you pay attention, you can make out what is being explained but be forewarned, it's not pretty, switching... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Applying poetic insight to the collapse of meaning
The Eagles sing Take It To the Limit like Oswald Spengler meant to write a book about future time. Somehow the Eagles thought "one more time" would do it, but Spengler... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bruce P. Barten
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor product
This is a very poor product, it is full of editing errors and typos. I hope kindle will provide the English abridged version.
Published 5 months ago by Alexander Halpern
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable, don't use
I've download a free copy. It is a miserable OCR which was not processed at all: footnotes come in the middle of the text, Greek or German words are Gibberish, and the table of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by wiglin
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading For Grasp of Spengler
As mentioned this appears to be an abridgment of Spengler's The Decline of the West. However in my opinion it's a readable one that delivers a clear sense of Spenglerian... Read more
Published 9 months ago by hwynn
4.0 out of 5 stars The Decline of the West
THis book is very difficult reading, but filled with the dreams of a man, read by a dictator who led Nazi Germany, and purported as the 'in' book before World War I by western... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Beachwalker
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