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322 of 335 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural suicide
The most important development of the twenty-first century is likely to be the great extinction of peoples and cultures. Like Greece and Rome, Europe has lost faith in itself; though incomparably richer than the peasants who built the Cathedrals, the denizens of what used to be Christendom spend only on themselves, with no thought for the morrow. They have failed to...
Published on September 11, 2011 by Eric Jackson

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why I bought the book
After commenting on other people's comments, and after skimming this book at a Barnes and Noble store, I finally parted with my 16 bucks and bought the darn thing - yes, thru Amazon.


Because my initial impressions before skimming the book and some of my earlier growth assumptions did not extend as far into the future as Goldman's assumptions do...
Published on November 8, 2011 by Objective

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322 of 335 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural suicide, September 11, 2011
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
The most important development of the twenty-first century is likely to be the great extinction of peoples and cultures. Like Greece and Rome, Europe has lost faith in itself; though incomparably richer than the peasants who built the Cathedrals, the denizens of what used to be Christendom spend only on themselves, with no thought for the morrow. They have failed to attend to the most elementary task of a successful civilization: raising children. In no European country is the birthrate at replacement level. As David P. Goldman, Spengler of Asia Times Online, tells it, not only is the old world dying, it has reached the demographic point of no return.

The title of Goldman's book is How Civilizations Die, but the addendum, And Why Islam is Dying Too, may be more important. For there is almost no awareness that the Muslim world is following in the footsteps of western civilization. Indeed, a popular narrative among those who seek to revive Europe has it that Muslims will soon rule the continent. But while European Christianity eventually lost the fight with modernity, Islam has fared worse.

Iran proves illustrative. "An educated twenty-five year old Iranian woman today probably grew up in a family of six or seven children, but will bear only one child." As of 2010, Iran's fertility rate stands at 1.7 children per woman. Decadence has enveloped the nation; drug use is rampant, and a sizable portion of the women work willingly as prostitutes. Paradoxically, this makes the Islamic world more dangerous, at least in the short term: "For in their despair, radical Muslims who can already taste the ruin of their culture believe that they have nothing to lose."

Of considerable interest was Goldman's account of the Thirty Years War, which ravaged Germany in the 17th Century. The German population declined "from 21 million to perhaps 13 million, mostly due to starvation." Ostensibly, the war was fought to decide whether the German people would become Protestant or remain Catholic. But there was considerably more afoot: Protestant armies were bankrolled by Cardinal Richelieu and Father Joseph du Tremblay, two French clergymen who had no trouble putting State ahead of Church. Their plan was to gain hegemony over Spain by bankrupting her. It worked. The senseless slaughter continued long past the point when battles decided anything--as in the American Civil War after Vicksburg. As Goldman tells it, nationalism was never fully subordinated by the Church; this failure, which first manifested itself under Richelieu, would haunt Europe until the middle of the twentieth-century.

Goldman finds two exceptions to the ennui that will lead so many nations to destruction in the coming century. The first, Israel, is well established; even secular Jews who live in Israel have children, and the ultra-Orthodox have large families--eight or nine children on average. His second example, America, is less convincing. True, religious Americans have proven less susceptible to the siren song of modernity. This has given the country a birthrate which remains at replacement level: 2.1 children per woman. Although he offers reasons for American demographic exceptionalism, I am forced to charge Spengler with too much optimism.

He is on firmer ground when he notes that: "America's demographic momentum offers a generation's grace period." Yet what evidence is there that we will do anything but fritter it away? For that is the approach America has taken with her debt problem, one that is not altogether different from its demographic dilemma. A nation does not run up too much debt for the same reason it raises children: it believes in its future. Presently, America lacks the political will to bequeath a worthy culture to its progeny. The demographic data tell a slightly different story--for now.
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178 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! Goldman is an absolute gem!, September 19, 2011
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
David P. Goldman, aka Asia Times Online's 'Spengler' columinst, is the single most insightful writer in America today. Goldman's new book 'How Civilizations Die' is an absolute gem as he dispenses with conventional wisdom and gives the reader unique geopolitical insight in a cultural and historical tour de force.

Goldman may as well be the originator of the phrase "Demographics is Destiny" because he has argued for years (and in this book) that demographics can go a long way into explaining nations' economic and cultural rise and fall. But then what explains demographics? In the introductory part of the book, Goldman explores why people in the developed world choose to have children and why they don't. His answer seems to be that having children is often an act of religious faith, or at least an article of faith in the future. Those developed societies (read: Europe) that fail to reproduce at replacement rate have lost faith. Not surprisingly, only two developed countries, Jewish Israel, and Judeo-Christian America, currently have birth rates above the 2.1 replacement rate.

The next part of Goldman's book takes the reader deep in the heart of Islam and explores how and why Islam is literally convulsing before our eyes despite its religious facade. Who knew that the world had never before seen a drop in birthrates as it sees in Iran today? Who knew that Turkey too faces a demographic crisis in the near future and that native Kurds might soon outnumber native Turks in Turkey? The reader will be shocked as Goldman goes through the numbers and explains the cultural and economic consequences of an Islamic world on the brink.

The second part of the book titled 'Theopolitics' takes the reader through history and examines cultures that failed: Prehistoric Greek civilization, Hellenistic civilizations and ancient Rome. Goldman then explains why Islam is soon to be the fourth failed civilization. The focus then shifts to Europe as Goldman explains how a once great continent no longer has a desire to live. This leads into a discussion of my favorite part of the book, a chapter titled 'How Christianity Failed in Europe.' I had always wondered how it was possible that the formerly most powerful nations, who fought for centuries under the nominal faith of Christendom could be so lacking in faith today. As Goldman explains, while the European nations were nominally Christian, they really practiced a form of paganism in that they worshipped themselves. And this was their downfall. In an awesome intellectual journey, Goldman takes the reader through the first Thirty Years' War in Europe (1618-1648) and discusses how that war eventually led to the modern nation state, the death of Christianity in Europe, and eventually the horrors of the second thirty year war in Europe (1914-1945).

The final part of the book explains why America is different and how modern Judeo-based Christianity has survived only in America. By examining America's religious roots Goldman contrasts living America with dying Europe and shows why America will thrive, but also why its uniqueness cannot necessarily be transferred to other nations. This of course has foreign policy consequences for us today as we seek to export American democracy (can't be done, Goldman argues). Goldman concludes by offering his foreign policy advice based on 'The Morality of Self Interest' which should be required reading for our policymakers.

Goldman is quite literally a polymath. The former head of Fixed Income Research (ie. smartest guy at the firm) at Bank of America, Goldman is a master of not only geopolitics and history, but also of high finance and macroeconomics. The breadth of his knowledge is breathtaking and combined with the writer's fine sense of humor makes for a gem of a book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough - simply an intellectual tour de force!
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172 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spengler at his Best, September 17, 2011
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
As a long time fan of Spengler from his perches at Asia Times online and First Things magazine, it was a pleasure to read this book, which was a synthesis of most of the seminal and original ideas that he has been writing about now for 10 years.

Spengler is not a professional journalist, but rather a retired financial whiz and music theorist, and as such can afford to offend as many people as humanly possible with his terribly politically incorrect views. This is what attracts so many hundreds of thousands of readers to his ATOL essays. Anyone who reads this book will see why he will never be hired to write the anodyne nonsense and trivial gossip that is now standard fare on the OpEd page of the NY Times.

Spengler places high value on 3 points of view that have been virtually taboo in the world of our cultivated intelligentsia in New York and Washington. The first is the value of women having children and rearing them properly - even women with careers and other lifestyle options. The second is the importance of religious life in the modern world, especially for the educated class whose nihilistic, materialistic and low-fertility behavior threatens the survival of the nations they lead. The third scandalous idea (especially for the NY Times) is that Israel shines as a symbolic exception to the cultural and political disintegration and degradation not only of the Muslim Middle East, but in fact post-Christian Europe, as well. Yes, those pesky Jews who in Congressional District #9 just repudiated the favorite politician of the NYT, whose presidency is now endangered.

In the educated class of America and Europe, the terms of discussion have changed dramatically in recent years. Anticolonialism, the white man's burden, the triumph of secularism and socialism - all the points of view that used to be mandatory for graduates of our elite universities are now being turned upside down by the analytical insight of David Goldman and others like him. Except there are few like him.

Bravo, Spengler, keep on trucking.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Declining Birthrates Contribute to Decline of the West, September 26, 2011
This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
Most people have read something somewhere -- or more likely heard it on TV -- about the declining populations of European countries, with each year seeing fewer young people in the workforce to sustain the welfare state safety net of health care and pensions that keep the retirees of Germany, France, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries so prosperous.

Thanks to continuing declining birthrates, much of Europe is on a path of willed self-extinction, says David P. Goldman in "How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)." Not only that, but Muslim countries -- contrary to popular belief -- are experiencing similar declines in birthrates, he says, with educated Iranian women, for instance, who grew up with five or six siblings giving birth to one or two children.

Goldman, author of the widely read "Spengler" column in Asia Times Online and a contributor to other sites, writes that the story the mainstream media isn't covering is that birthrates in Muslim nations are declining faster than anywhere else -- at a rate never before documented. He says that Europe, even in its decline, may have the resources to support an aging population, if at a terrible economic and cultural cost. But in the impoverished Islamic world, an aging population means a civilization on the brink of total collapse-- something Islamic terrorists know and fear.

Muslim decline poses new threats to America, he writes, "challenges we cannot even understand, much less face effectively, without a wholly new kind of political analysis that explains how desperate peoples and nations behave."

Goldman borrowed his pseudonym from Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), a German historian and philosopher who is best known for his 1918 book "The Decline of the West" (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), which posits a cyclical theory on the rise and decline of civilizations. The Nazis initially approved of Spengler's German hegemony in Europe, but he was ostracized after Hitler came to power in 1933 for his pessimism about Germany and Europe's future and his refusal to support Nazi ideas of racial superiority.

Goldman says that extinctions of peoples, cultures and civilizations are not unthinkable, but certain. He writes that for the first time in world history, the birthrate in the West has fallen below replacement level. Contrary to popular belief, birthrates are falling even faster than in the West. He also gives ways the United States can survive the coming world turmoil generated by declining birthrates in the Muslim world.

Goldman writes that the Judeo-Christian ethic of the United States is its best defense against decline, as well as high birthrates among many American minorities. While mainline Protestant denominations -- Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Congregationalists -- began a decline in membership and birthrates in 1960s, he writes, Evangelicals and Mormons are thriving. He doesn't mention it specifically, but Mormons tend to have large families, as do Evangelicals. American Presbyterians he says (on Page 219) "have on average 1.3 children -- the same as Episcopalians, and only slightly more than Reform Jews."

Goldman writes as a conservative of the old school, not as a neoconservative, whatever that is. He discusses the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) in Europe and how it forced the English Pilgrims -- who had fled their native country for Holland -- to leave Holland for Massachusetts in 1620 to avoid being absorbed or destroyed as Catholics and Protestants fought each other to the death in what British historian Mark Mazower called the "Dark Continent" in his 1999 book of the same name. Goldman writes (Page 208): "Even if the Spanish did not come [to reassert their claim on Holland], the Separatists [Pilgrims] faced absorption into either the Dutch or English official church. And if the Spanish came, they would be the first to burn."

American exceptionalism -- often derided by those on the Left -- began with the Pilgrims and continues today with the dissenters from the declining traditional religions -- the Evangelicals, he says. "Identification with ancient Israel was not a Pilgrim quirk," Goldman says (Page 209). "It was the sine qua non of the radical Protestantism that rejected the failing regime of Church and Empire....The New England settlers saw themselves as an elect saved by grace from the perdition of the Old World. A red thread leads from John Winthrop's `bond of marriage' between God and the Pilgrims and Abraham Lincoln's characterization of Americans as an "almost chosen people.'"

A stimulating mix of history, demographics, religion, economics, sociology and just about everything else, "Why Civilizations Die" will be controversial and troubling to many readers, but, like Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West", it will be an accessible and important scholarly and polemic work.

If I hadn't read Goldman's book, I might not have known that one of my favorite authors, the often exasperating (I disagree with many of his views, but he's entertaining) 62-year-old Christopher Hitchens, has a younger brother, Peter Hitchens, 59, a British conservative who says (Page 247) that democracy following the "Arab Spring" -- if it ever comes to pass -- might not be such a good thing. Hitchens notes that spreading democracy across Muslim world -- as so many enlightened people say they wish to do -- would certainly increase the number. Yet the enthusiasts for planting democracy all over the planet [neoconservatives like Bush and Cheney?] also tend to be the people who dislike Islamic republics and warn endlessly about their likely use as bases for terror."
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very informative read about a very sad and tragic situation., September 28, 2011
This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
In How Civilizations Die, subtitled (And Why Islam is Dying Too), David Goldman writes that the people of Europe have attained a demographic nadir--they have failed, for the first time in their history, to maintain their birth rate above replacement level. Basing his data in recent U.N. projections, Goldman, predicts that in many European countries there will soon be more elderly running about than children, this is catastrophic for all concerned. Further, the Muslim world is following this same barren path. As a long time reader of Mr. Goldman's essays, I am pleased that he decided to devote this book to expand his insights.

If one is interested in finding out why and how Europe and the Muslim world have seen fit to commit willful extinction, this is the book to read. In reading the works of such eminent historians as Gibbons and Toynbee, one is compelled to see that the end of many worthy civilizations came about through civil strife, famine, war, and disease, or a combination of one or more of these disasters. Mr. Goldman adds another dimension, he argues that there is another civilization-gutting disaster to be added to this list--willful extinction. As he says, in modernity, fertility is the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse.

The work is divided into three parts. In part one; Goldman develops his rationale as to why the people of the Middle East are also fodder for extinction. Part two titled, Theopolitics, is to me, the most fascinating. It is here that Goldman argues that the flaw of the European peoples is that they failed at being Christians and at being pagans. The last part of the book is devoted to the "Morality of Self-Interest," and it deals primarily with the United States and its allies--those that choose to exist that is, for the other nations that choose self-extinction, as Goldman states, "We will not speak of them, but look, and move on."

While there are many works that cover the demographic impact of this dramatic shift, either from an historical, philosophical, religious or geopolitical perspective; none covers all of these factors into one tome and more. I say more because Goldman is above all a very readable writer. He is also a careful researcher. He provides his reader with an excellent seventeen page Notes section, which the reader can use to read more about the ideas presented, and an exhaustive, eighteen page index section. I respect writers that provide their readers with a good set of notes and an index.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an important work by an original thinker, October 7, 2011
D. Layman (Elizabethtown, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
Full disclosure: I have been an avid reader of the "Spengler" columns at the *Asia Times* website for at least six years, and a regular contributor to the various forums discussing those columns for about as long.

Here's the short version: although there are very few themes in *How Civilizations Die* that have not been previously adumbrated in the "Spengler" columns, this book brings together all those themes--with a few new variations--in a tightly integrated, easy to follow argument. It is very well written, and/or very well edited. While the data is comprehensive, and the argument intricate, I was able to read it rapidly. I recognize, of course, that I was assisted by my previous knowledge of the motifs--to use a musical metaphor Goldman would appreciate--which permitted me to quickly absorb the larger picture. Why then would someone acquainted with Goldman's/"Spengler's" previous work then bother with this book? Because one can quickly comprehend the whole scope of the Goldman's intellectual tour-de-force. Goldman has successfully moved from the trenchant and acerbic essay to the monographic analysis.

Now for the longer version: For the newcomer to Goldman's oeuvre, this book is an ideal introduction to the essayist. One can see the connection among Goldman's concerns, and pick up how his argument deals with a number of pressing issues. Others have used the word "polymath" to describe Goldman, but it is entirely justified. He is, among other things, an economist, financier, music theorist, and widely read in both Christian and Jewish philosophy and thought. He also knows the literature of western scholarly readings of Islam.

Goldman's introduction explains the counterintuitive fact that the central demographic problem is not overpopulation, but the widespread loss by various peoples and tribes of the will to live. Thus he sets forth at the very beginning that, beneath all the data and graphs, that civilizational death is a spiritual and moral problem.

Part One then demonstrates this loss of the will to live in traditional Muslim cultures. This permits him to ground his analysis in contemporary problems. His evidence suggests that traditional religion *per se* is not sufficient to maintain the birthrate. Ch. 6 deals with this crisis by looking at "honor killings, genital mutilation, and cousin marriages" (pp. 81ff.), showing how the practices reveal a long-standing moral crisis within traditional Islam. So "reform" or renewal of Islam tradition is not the solution, since the problem is at the core of traditional Islam. His chapter on Turkey (5) is specially current. This part of the book is a solid contribution to the puzzles of world demographic shifts.

Part Two looks at civilizational suicide, and begins with, *inter alia* an examination of the fall of the Soviet empire, and how provides a model of "preemption" of a suicidal society. In the next chapter he connects classical extinctions with the failure to have children. The next chapter is a theological critique of Islam. I am familiar with much of the literature Goldman uses here, and can affirm his interpretation and conclusions. I particular recommend his comments on *tawhid* and the eucharist and jihad (the former is new, but long-time readers will recognize his comments on the latter two). The next chapter deals with the collapse of Christianity in Europe (as well as Quebec), as providing answers to "why *some* religion fails in the modern world". I hope Goldman and others follow up the data here, since one is left to try to tease out his answers to that question.

In Part Three, he gives his argument for the present and future relevance of the American experiment. I agree with others that I want to share his hopefulness, but think that both the argument and its possible application to our public life require considerably more work. His final chapter, "The Morality of Self-Interest," is a valuable contribution to the discussions in "peace and conflict studies" of how America ought to exercise its power in international affairs. He uses Augustine to argue that we ought support those nations who "share our loves," our sense of the purpose of human community, and quarantine those nations who do not.

One quick negative comment on this discussion: it is doubtless true that somehow India absorbed Anglo-American values in the movement to parliamentary democracy, but I question the evidence for an alleged "Hindu sense of the sanctity of life" (p. 253). In the Bhavagad Gita, the dignity of the person is dissolved in the all-inclusive Brahman. When reincarnated, the distinctive attributes that westerners view as being part of the individual are lost. Maybe Goldman intended "sanctity of life" in a much broader sense, as manifested in the Indian reverence for the cow and preference for vegetarianism. But if we are going to accurately interpret the spiritual dynamics that make continued cultural vitality possible, I still find it a problematic detail.

Along the way, Goldman sets forth a series of *Spengler's Universal Laws*; I believe the final one is #23 ("The best thing you can do for zombie cultures is, don't be one of them.") Many are genuine aphoristic insights, although some strike me as being little more than bon mots to move the argument along. He should have provided an appendix listing them all. They provide a handy summary of his argument.

An important work, which brings the insights of a deep and original thinker to a wider audience.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldman's must-read, September 19, 2011
This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
Those "in the know" -- including many of the world's leading analysts -- have been reading David P. Goldman since his pseudonymous "Spengler" essays first appeared in Asia Times. Goldman's eye for global trends and his synthesis of widely diverse factors undergird his unique insights. He combines the ultimate insider's view with an outsider's detachment (plus a wicked sense of [gallows] humor) to generate prescient analyses never to be lightly set aside.

Likely to prove a lightning rod attracting highly-charged commentary across the political spectrum, How Civilizations Die (2011, Regnery) presents a long-form variation on an enduring Goldman theme. Uninitiated readers expecting a retread of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West may be surprised to find in it an eminently accessible and ultimately optimistic assessment of U.S., if not quite Western, prospects in the ongoing defense of Western civilization. Let it be noted, however, that this is not reading for the faint of heart, mind, or stomach: Goldman pulls no intellectual punches and gives no quarter to political correctness, pseudo-intellectual claptrap, or regurgitated "conventional wisdom."
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, disorganized read, October 6, 2011
This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
An interesting, disorganized read

David P. Goldman's Why Civilizations Die is an ambitious study in demographics, history and cultural legacy that attempts to predict the future of Western Europe, the Middle East and the United States. In a way it is a less humorous version of Mark Steyn's After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, except that Goldman takes in the same data and comes up with radically different conclusions.

Goldman is writes a monthly column under the pseudonym of Spengler at Asia Times Online, a fact that Goldman assumes his readers know before they open the book and a fact I did not know (it's on the dust cover, but I had set aside the dust cover). I kept wondering who Spengler was and why Goldman was quoting him so liberally and did not get the joke until the second-to-last page of the book. Throw in a chaotically arranged beginning to the book with lots of wonderful points arranged in an apparently random fashion and this reader was frustrated for the first 50 pages or so.

But, somewhere in the middle some wonderful observations and themes start to come together and Goldman really hits his stride. There are powerful observations about why religious faith has all but died in Europe, why fertility rates will fall farther and faster in many Muslim countries (this is the crux of his disagreement with Steyn who gets only the briefest of mentions, but whose arguments are referred to throughout) and why this fall in fertility is a crisis in countries like Iran is a serious crisis that must be managed with a deft hand. He includes more than enough statistics, charts and analysis to drive his point home. I would love to listen to a debate between Steyn and Goldman on this topic.

Almost as an aside, Goldman makes a brilliant set of arguments as to why the United States was truly created in the Judeo-Christian cultural mold and how that worldview is causing America to avoid the fertility crisis that will de-stabilize many other countries. I truly hope that Goldman's next book is an in-depth look at that heritage, why it matters and how it affects us.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5. I have to take off a point for the chaotic start. Once I got through the rough start it was a tour de force.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Goldman the philosopher, October 1, 2011
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
When was the last time you heard a practicing Jew praising Saint Augustine's contributions to civilization?

Meet David Goldman: geopolitical analyst, macroeconomic strategist, and classical music connoisseur with a penchant for theology. Here is a man whose eclectic background and philosophic nature enable him to transcend even completely understandable prejudice.

Goldman's universal mind is an ebullient source of originality, which many reviewers here have already praised. And certainly, if you are looking for "some new thing" (Acts 17:21), Goldman's analysis won't disappoint. But if you are looking for poignant historical analysis which penetrates through layers of partisan revisionism, then you have stumbled upon a treasure trove.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, thought-provoking book, October 7, 2011
Geoff Puterbaugh (Chiang Mai, T. Suthep, A. Muang Thailand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) (Hardcover)
David Goldman's book is hard to summarize, perhaps because it is so thought-provoking. It is also full of data which you have probably never seen before.

The most startling data describe what might be the impending collapse of the Iranian theocracy. It has been a complete failure in every direction, and even the mad, evil Ahmadinejad can see the handwriting on the wall. After thirty years of religious tyranny, it turns out that a mere two percent of Iranians attend mosque on Fridays. The birthrate has plummeted --- the steepest drop in fertility known to recorded history. Prostitution is pandemic, with a huge number of prostitutes being women who passed the university entrance exam, or who are actually studying at the university. They sell themselves not out of desperation but out of greed. Drug addiction now has hit 5 million men, among the work-force which is 35 million strong. Rumor has it that the Big Turbans on top of this seething volcano are now grabbing everything they can before their number is up, with billions of dollars disappearing from Iranian banks.

Gee, maybe Grandpa was right: "Religion is in the heart. It cannot be forced upon the people. You find the love within God, and with that love, you cherish life."

What is even more startling is that this is only the worst case in the Muslim world --- all of the oil-importing Muslim countries are facing disaster, with Egypt as a prime example: 80 million very backward people who need to buy half their bread from abroad. Well, tourism in Egypt is dead, for some STRANGE reason, and that foreign exchange has disappeared, and the price of wheat is going up up up as the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese buy more and more. We may well be looking at a desperate famine situation within twelve months.

And where will the starving Egyptians try to run? Do you know where the Libyans are running right now?

They're trying to run to Europe, naturally, at the same time as a lot of Europeans are beginning to feel that they have enough Muslims already. The rioting "youths" burning cars in Paris may well have slammed the door shut for the coming refugees from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.

This all presents a highly dangerous situation, because many of these countries (like Iran and Syria) are in danger of simply becoming failed states, and the idea of Persian culture suddenly disappearing from the earth will make many people unhappy, but no one more than the Persians themselves.

Goldman makes a sensational prediction when he guesses that no more than 10 percent of the languages being spoken today will make it into the next century as living languages.

Europe will come out of the mess better than the Muslim world, because Europe has money.

Basic demographics: a rise in literacy goes with a fall in religious faith and a fall in fertility. Some cultures (such as Ancient Greece) simply lose the will to live. Goldman sees two countries where religious faith and fertility have not collapsed: America and Israel. India is also doing well.

But for the next few decades, that ancient Chinese curse seems likely to apply: "May you live in interesting times."

This book gets my highest recommendation.
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How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)
How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too) by David P. Goldman (Hardcover - September 19, 2011)
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