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A Study of History: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI (Royal Institute of International Affairs) [Kindle Edition]

Arnold J. Toynbee , D.C. Somervell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History has been acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of modern scholarship. A ten-volume analysis of the rise and fall of human civilizations, it is a work of breath-taking breadth and vision. D.C. Somervell's abridgement, in two volumes, of this magnificent enterprise, preserves the method, atmosphere, texture, and, in many instances, the very words of the original. Originally published in 1947 and 1957, these two volumes are themselves a great historical achievement.
Volume 1, which abridges the first six volumes of Toynbee's study, includes the Introduction, The Geneses of Civilizations, and The Disintegrations of Civilizations. Volume 2, an abridgement of Volumes VII-X, includes sections on Universal States, Universal churches, Heroic Ages, Contacts Between Civilizations in Space, Contacts Between Civilizations in Time, Law and Freedom in History, The Prospects of the Western Civilization, and the Conclusion.
Of Somervell's work, Toynbee wrote, "The reader now has at his command a uniform abridgement of the whole book, made by a clear mind that has not only mastered the contents but has entered into the writer's outlook and purpose."

Editorial Reviews


'McNeill's book will be read, and enjoyed, for its own sake. I hope it will revive interest in Toynbee.' The Advertiser, Australia

About the Author

The late Arnold Toynbee was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Research Professor of International History at the University of London.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2158 KB
  • Print Length: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 31, 1947)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IK8910
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,731 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars invaluable insights April 25, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, Toynbee's point of view is a bit archaic. Yes, there are more detailed, more comprehensive studies of history done since his work. And, yes, even the abridgment is heavy reading. But the overview of civilizational development and decline done by Toynbee is unmatched anywhere. The second volume of the abridgment, written 60 years ago and describing civilizations going back thousands of years, is full of glaringly obvious parallels and invaluable insights into what is happening in the world today. Get both volumes of this superb work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975) was a British historian whose ten-volume 'A Study of History' was an extremely popular approach to historical writing. The first three volumes were released in 1933. The next three volumes were released in 1939. The last four volumes (on which this book is based) were published in 1954. The companion volume is A Study of History: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI.

He wrote, "We have seen that a universal church is apt to come to birth during a Time of Troubles following the breakdown of a civilization and to unfold itself within the political framework of the ensuing universal state. We have seen also... that the principal beneficiaries of the institutions maintained by universal states have been universal churches; and it is therefore not surprising that the champions of a universal state, whose fortunes are on the wane, should dislike the spectacle of a universal church growing within its bosom. The church is therefore likely to be regarded... as a social cancer responsible for the decline in the state." (Pg. 76)

He suggests, "If the foregoing inquiry has convinced us that the churches embodying the higher religions are ... of a spiritually higher order than the species represented by the civilizations, we shall be encouraged to go farther in our experiment of inverting our original assumption that the role of civilizations is dominant in History and the role of churches subordinate." (Pg. 109) He argues, the Papacy never "until galvanized into new life AFTER (and not before) the catastrophe of the Protestant succession, recovered from the moral and religious discredit in which its legalism had involved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History repeated? March 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
You may not want to read this book but you should. If only this civilization could avoid the same fates as the other fallen societies .
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy February 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Beautiful written and thinked basid to review and talk about the world, the families, the lives, the future, the joy and saddness af living, the goals and soluntions.
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