Top positive review
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Though I Disagree, An Excellent Read
on March 28, 2002
Hart's central premise, that there is a need and desire to focus on Western Civilazation and to bypass the more "multicultural" aspects of higher education is not one I necessarily share, and as a Ph.D student in English literature, this is an issue that will affect me in my everyday life. My personal view, that Western Civilization should be stressed as we Americans do live in a Western nation but that there should also be education towards the ideas of other cultures, especially given the increasingly easy ways people can and do contact other cultures through commerce, the Internet, and travel technology. In other words, I don't see how the two should be seen as mutually exclusive.
That said, while I was bothered occassionally by some of Hart's more dismissive mentions of other societies, this book did for its space offer a very good examination of what makes Western Civilization what it is. Hart starts his jounrey with two, apparently opposing viewpoints: Athenian philosophy and logic and the spiritual center at Jerusalem. Hart procedes then to examine the major figures that lead to modern twentieth century life, and he does so in a thorough, readable manner. Of especialy personal interest was the chapter Hart used to discuss Moses as an epic hero in a similar style to Achilles.
Bottom line: though you may or may not agree with Hart's conclusions, the book was certainly worth reading for his tracings of Western thought alone.