To leaf through Barzun's sweeping, densely detailed but lightly written survey of the last 500 years is to ride a whirlwind of world-changing events. Barzun ponders, for instance, the tumultuous political climate of Renaissance Italy, which yielded mayhem and chaos, but also the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo--and, he adds, the scientific foundations for today's consumer culture of boom boxes and rollerblades. He considers the 16th-century varieties of religious experimentation that arose in the wake of Martin Luther's 95 theses, some of which led to the repression of individual personality, others of which might easily have come from the "Me Decade." Along the way, he offers a miniature history of the detective novel, defends Surrealism from its detractors, and derides the rise of professional sports, packing in a wealth of learned and often barbed asides.
Never shy of controversy, Barzun writes from a generally conservative position; he insists on the importance of moral values, celebrates the historical contributions of Christopher Columbus, and twits the academic practitioners of political correctness. Whether accepting of those views or not, even the most casual reader will find much that is new or little-explored in this attractive venture into cultural history. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I highly recommend this book for all history lovers.
Critical praise has been heaped on this book - it is, to me, one of the greatest and yet most approachable works of history to come along in a while.
Reading this book is like looking back through the footprints of time, and seeing many of the places that we came from.
Not for the faint of heart. More here than you'll cover in a two-semester college course. More breadth here than any other twenty-five non-fiction books on my shelves.Published 7 days ago by Music Lover
I finished reading this today, but I wish I had stopped about a hundred pages before the end. The first 700 pages have a historian’s distance and breadth and I found the chapters... Read morePublished 1 month ago by R. Mumma
A stunning book written by a stunning man. Barzun seems to be the most well-read, well-educated scholar, classicist and historian on the planet. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jeffrey Thompson
As a history buff, I've found J Barzun's book uniquely illuminating. This book followed Paul Anderson's History of America. Awesome.Published 3 months ago by J. Heslin
The amazing thing for the last 500 years has not been limited to the objectivity of what can be published. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bruce P. Barten
Learned lots from this book. It corrected some errors in historical beliefs that I had. A long book, but worth sticking with it.Published 6 months ago by sharond
Jacques Barzun's thought and writing held me in thrall and inspired me to make a personal connection with him -- unfortunately, too late, as he had died the year before. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Donald V. West
Quite simply, "From Dawn To Decadence" is the most significant history book I've ever read, and I've read alot of them. Read morePublished 7 months ago by sal paradise