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The Promise of the Coming Dark Age Paperback – August 5, 1976

ISBN-13: 978-0716704966 ISBN-10: 071670496X
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 211 pages
  • Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co (August 5, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071670496X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716704966
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,347,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judith Goldsmith on June 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Published in 1976, but even more relevant now. As nation-states lose control, with the coming of peak oil and whatever global climate changes occur, some will panic. Stavrianos took a look at the innovations that occurred after Rome lost its "colonies", a period that came to be known as the "Dark Ages". However, in terms of people's day-to-day well-being, it was far from dark. As control returned to local communities, and slavery gave way to the manor system, living conditions actually improved, with the invention of many labor-saving devices, such as the "three-field" system of rotation farming, the heavy wheeled plow that made possible the cultivation of rich bottom lands [please don't take this as an argument for continuing to use the plow, however], a new harness that multiplied the tractive performance of the horse four to five times, the watermill and the windmill. Stavrianos notes, "By the tenth century the Western European serf was enjoying a level of living significantly better than that of the proletarian during the height of Augustan Rome".

This applies equally to the 21st century, just as it did when Upton Sinclair was saying virtually the same thing during the height of the US's 1930s depression: the stronger becomes worker control and participatory democracy, the shorter the chain of command, the more people take responsibility for their own well-being, the more re-integration and re-generation will result.

Read this with "The Third Wave" to understand the possibilities and potentials of the future. The examples are dated, but still accurate.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bill Bunn on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
The author argues that from time to time we need a "dark age" to sweep away non-functional and contra-functional encrustments; and that the "dark ages" did not so much mean a loss of knowlege as a collapse of the old order of government. He also argues that the "Barbarians" did NOT cause the fall of the Roman Empire; that the empire fell of its own weight, and the barbarians merely delivered the coupe de grace and picked up the pieces.
However I'll add that the collapse of the empire surely must have meant the end of considerable long-distance commerce, and consequently a considerable reduction in prosperity.
(I read this book more that 20 years ago, and have not re-read it more recently.)
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Somsel on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Read this book as a test case for the ability of leftist thinking to predict the future.

I too read this book when it first came out so this review is also based on memory. It was typical of the time in portraying communist countries like Yugoslavia as very nice places to live. Worst, the author predicted that when the Tito, the dictator of the central Yugoslav government passed away, things would get even better!

Of course, events didn't turn out that way with genocide, war, and fragmentation making life there a hell.

You'll recognize any number of leftist world view assumptions stated here and applied to the then Yugoslavia. You'll hear the same arguments today in American and European political debates. History here gives you a chance to see just how those predictions turned out.

Turning to the Roman Empire, was the fall of Rome good for the people within the Empire? Given the decline in population and literacy, and the increase in warfare, I'd think any honest citizen would say it was a disaster for all concerned!
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