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179 of 185 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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2011 6:55:57 AM PDT
GFX says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2011 11:36:30 AM PST
Richard says:
Yes, but what facts do you have to counter what Goldman says. Labeling someone anything you dislike cannot win an intellectual argument, and in fact makes everything you say highly suspect.

Posted on Feb 6, 2012 8:12:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 6, 2012 8:14:49 AM PST
John Harllee says:
" only two developed countries, Jewish Israel, and Judeo-Christian America, currently have birth rates above the 2.1 replacement rate."

Wrong both ways. According to the World Bank, the US is at 2.05, which is slightly below replacement rate. And Iceland, Argentina, and New Zealand are a little above replacement rate. The UK and France are both at 2.oo, almost the same as the United States.

If you exclude immigrants, who have relatively high fertility, the US is well below replacement rate. If Europe is dying, so is America.

I notice that this is the only book you have ever posted an Amazon review for. Do you know the author?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2012 4:54:16 PM PST
Callahan says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2013 4:35:20 AM PST
Rainer Rocks says:
You said "If you exclude immigrants"

What a joke..you can't be serious...America is a nation of "immigrants !
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