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Family and Civilization (Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind) Paperback – Abridged, January 25, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Background: Essential Texts for the Conservative Mind
  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 2nd abridged edition edition (January 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859378
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Carle C. Zimmerman was an eminent professor of sociology at Harvard University and the founder of the subdiscipline of rural sociology. Among his many other books are The Changing Community and Marriage and the Family: A Text for Moderns.
 
James Kurth is the Claude C. Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, co-chairman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Center for the Study of America and the West, and editor of Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Graham H. Seibert TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We learn from other readers' comments that it has been distilled from 800 pages down to 200. There are some significant flaws that could and should have been fixed in this heavy-handed editing. Despite all that, the gems of thought in this book are bright enough to shine through some plodding and repetitive prose.

Zimmerman describes a universal progression of family organization from the "trustee family" through the "domestic family" and finally the "atomistic" family" in three separate eras: classical Greece, Rome, and contemporary Western civilization.

In the broadest terms, in a "trustee family" the current generation is seen as only a trustee for an entity that exists for all time. The trustee family fills the roles that will be taken over by the church and state at higher levels of civilization. Specifically, the trustee family administers its own justice, fights its own wars, and keeps family members in line. Trustee families existed until recently in the feuding Kentucky hills, and they are our plague as America fights in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The "domestic family" is the bedrock of traditional civilization, a mother, father, and children who view themselves as integral parts of a civilization: church, state, civil society, and a family structure. The key feature of a domestic family is a commitment to bearing and raising children. The motive may be somewhat economic -- children are certainly useful in an agricultural setting -- but it is equally religious. The parents of a domestic family feel an obligation, usually religious, to bear and her children, and the society reinforces the message that children should obey their parents. The church's call is to "proles, fides, sacramentum" or children, fidelity, and the sacred.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Thomas on June 23, 2009
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A superb survey of the family across history. I understand the full multi-volume edition is still out of print, but this abridged version is plenty scholarly, and very readable. It's important to remember while reading that this was written in the 1940s - and to realize how many of his predictions have come true!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jinnx on May 29, 2011
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This book really gives you a great look into civilizations and how they would put family first to raise up their culture then when they are on top they allow for things like homosexuality and abortions into their civilizations and they collapse it has happened several times throughout history. We as western civilizations need to be cautious to this and not fall into the same pattern as past civilizations. Highly recommended read very informative.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay on February 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have not read the original 800 page edition of Carle C. Zimmerman's magnum opus. But I have read this abridged edition and an article written by Zimmerman the year before he published Family and Civilization, entitled "The Social Conscience of the Family" (The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 52, No. 3, November 1946, pp. 263-268), which he even refers to as "a summary of several chapters of a forthcoming book, The Failure of the Family, to be published in 1947." Based on these two readings I cannot find support for Mr. Cronk's own analysis of Zimmerman's thesis nor for his criticism of this edition. You would think that even in a book edited to a quarter the size of the original some discernible indications of the original thesis, as presented by Mr. Cronk, could be found? Neither can I find support for Mr. Cronk's interpretation in the earlier article, which is available for viewing online. Maybe I am an inattentive reader or have only been exposed to "the first few chapters [of Zimmerman's book]that present a 'methodology'." Mr. Cronke tells us he has had "lengthy discussions with Professor Zimmerman on this subject and am confident that I represent his intent authentically." We have to take his word on this.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Greg Weston on June 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
If the book premise that family ties are what holds society together doesn't particularly float your boat, the trip through history from Greece and Rome till now is the best I've seen.

A GREAT read for Western historical and cultural evolution and a MUST read for social conservatives.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joan Howe on June 27, 2014
Format: Paperback
I thought this would be a worldwide study of civilizations, but 95% of it is a look at the family in European history (and that of Europe's colony, the United States of America, which was the author's home) from pre-Classical Greece to his own time, shortly after the end of World War II. He begins with what he calls the trustee family and we would call the clan: an extended family that predates government and contains within it most of the functions later delegated to government, including a criminal justice system and an obligation to avenge wrongs committed by outsiders against a family member. Zimmerman kind of harps on this last feature and the way it led to blood feuds that might not end until both families were wiped out, with considerable harm to bystanders along the way. As government arose, it worked to do away with the blood feud. Then it continued to break down the power of the family until, in a transition that might as well be called a sexual revolution, marriage was reduced to a voluntary contract between individuals, breakable at will, with sexual fidelity and parenthood optional. This Zimmerman calls the atomistic family. He sees it as a bad thing, mainly because the birth rate falls below replacement level, but also because of what he sees as a weakening of a sense of duty. He argues that, when the atomistic family is typical, so is corruption and selfishness; people try to evade obligations whenever they can and manipulate the system for their personal advantage.Read more ›
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