- Publisher: OXFORD; Third Impression edition (1949)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000JWJLXQ
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,358,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Study of History Hardcover – 1949
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As long as a society is growing, encountering new challenges, overcoming them, and moving on to other challenges, it is healthy. He also describes the "dominant minority," "external proletariat," and "internal proletariat" groups that make up societies. For instance, to take the example of Rome, the Romans themselves were the dominant minority, whose traditions sustained the Republic and then the Empire. The internal proletariat of Rome was the Christian religion, which came to inherit the prestige of the Romans. The external minorities were the Slavic and Germanic tribes on the northern borders, which were kept at bay until the dominant minority lost its will to expand.
Toynbee does not see empires (such as the Roman Empire) or "universal states" as triumphs of a society's strength, but rather as a sign of weakness. A healthy society expands, develops creative arts, and encourages social mobility; an empire has rigid rules of conduct, laws, and social hierarchy. Toynbee's thesis is an excellent primer for understanding history, and can easily be applied to today's societies, including ours. He offers many different examples of growing, static, and declining societies, and shows an incredible mastery of his subject.
Now the bad news: This is dry, tough reading. There are no maps, no visuals, and few "helps" for people unfamiliar with world history.Read more ›
1. Challange and response. There must be a challange to the population in order for a civilization to rise. The challange must be just right. Too little and the civilization does not rise. Too great a challange and the civilization is destroyed before it gets a chance or rise or is destroyed soon thereafter.
2. Withdrawl and change. An element of the civilization withdraws in some manner from the central civilization and undergoes some sort of creative transformation which it then introduces to the greater body of the civilization. This is a mechanism for maintaining the civilization.
3. The Nemesis of Creativity: There is within a civilization a creative minority. If the creative minority lacks the opportunity to create, the civilization will die or stagnate. This can happen in two ways: The majority group, lacking the talent to create, gains enough power to create, but the creativity is second rate and the civilization dies or stagnates. On the other hand, an exogenous group may gain power over the avenues of creativity and the creativity produced is destructive to the civiliation.
Of the three basic ideas the Nemesis of Creativity notion seems the most insightful. The challange and response seems little more than the golden mean. Withdrawl and change seems more relevant. As far as the Nemesis of creativity is concerned, this can be visualized in a simple microcosm. Suppose, for example, government action were taken which prevented the highly talented minority from obtaining either an education or given a good education, this minority were prevented from getting prime jobs. If, say, the space program were afflicted with this sort of thing, second-rate engineers, managers, scientists and such would be in positions of responsibility. Their positions would promote failure. It would be better to give these people jobs with good pay and no decision-making powers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He is one of the best historian from the 20th century. Originally 10 volumes, this abridged version is a good place to get a review and appreciation of his insight and skill for... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dean Book
Arnold Toynbee ranks up there with Gibbon and Jung in my eyes. They are all brilliant but a person better be able to concentrate if they want to get anything out of it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Steven Blankenship
Read this two volume abridgement years ago. A brilliant work that approaches the study of history from a somewhat different direction. Not an easy read, but worthy of the effort.Published 4 months ago by Edward B. Williams
“A Study of History” is Arnold J Toynbee's impossibly large 10-volume work about the rise and fall of human civilizations. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ashtar Command
I really wanted to like this book. It’s regarded as a classic, from a time before the study of history became corrupted by political correctness. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Adam Wayne