Customer Reviews: Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time
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on June 24, 2008
"As a teenager I heard John Kennedy's summons to citizenship. And as a student at Georgetown, I heard the call clarified by a professor I had named Carroll Quigley, who said America was the greatest country in the history of the world because our people have always believed in two great ideas: first, that tomorrow can be better than today, and second, that each of us has a personal moral responsibility to make it so."

When Bill Clinton spoke these stirring words to millions of Americans during his 1992 acceptance address before the Democratic National Convention upon receiving his party's nomination for President of the United States, the vast multitude of his television audience paused for a micro-second to reflect: Who is Carroll Quigley and why did he have such a dramatic effect on this young man before us who may become our country's leader?

Carroll Quigley was a legendary professor of history at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, and a former instructor at Princeton and Harvard.

He was a lecturer at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the Brookings Institution, the U. S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, the Foreign Service Institute of the State Department, and the Naval College.

Quigley was a closely connected elite "insider" to the American Establishment, with impeccable credentials and trappings of respectability.

But Carroll Quigley's most notable achievement was the authorship of one of the most important books of the 20th Century: Tragedy and Hope - A History of the World in Our Time.

No one can truly be cognizant of the intricate evolution of networks of power and influence which have played a crucial role in determining who and what we are as a civilization without being familiar with the contents of this 1,348-page tome.

It is the "Ur-text" of Establishment Studies, earning Quigley the epithet of "the professor who knew too much" in a Washington Post article published shortly after his 1977 death.

In Tragedy and Hope, as well as the posthumous The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, Quigley traces this network, in both its overt and covert manifestations, back to British racial imperialist and financial magnate Cecil Rhodes and his secret wills, outlining the clandestine master plan through seven decades of intrigue, spanning two world wars, to the assassination of John Kennedy.

Through an elaborate structure of banks, foundations, trusts, public-policy research groups, and publishing concerns (in addition to the prestigious scholarship program at Oxford), the initiates of what are described as the Round Table groups (and its offshoots such as the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations) came to dominate the political and financial affairs of the world.

For the ambitious young man from Hope, Arkansas, his mentor's visionary observations would provide the blueprint of how the world really worked as he made his ascendancy via Oxford through the elite corridors of power to the Oval Office.

Published in 1966, Tragedy and Hope lay virtually unnoticed by academic reviewers and the mainstream media establishment.

Then Dr. W. Cleon Skousen, the noted conservative author of the 1961 national best-seller, The Naked Communist, discovered Quigley, and the serious implications of what Quigley had revealed.

In 1970, Skousen published The Naked Capitalist: A Review and Commentary on Dr. Carroll Quigley's Book Tragedy and Hope.

This was soon followed by None Dare Call It Conspiracy. This slim volume by Gary Allen (and Larry Abraham) provided the massive paradigm shift of grassroots, populist conservatives from mere anti-Communism to a much larger anti-elitist world-view.

Millions of copies of these books came into print, and the conservative movement changed forever.

Copies of Tragedy and Hope began disappearing from library shelves.

A pirate edition was printed.

Quigley came to believe that his publisher Macmillan had suppressed his book.

Dr. Gary North, the esteemed economic commentator and historian has an interesting discussion of these curious facts in the chapter, "Maverick 'Insider' Historians," in his book, Conspiracy: A Biblical View, available on-line.

Quigley himself discusses these issues concerning his book in a five part YouTube interview: [...]

However some persons believe Carroll Quigley was simply amplifying earlier research in conservative authors Emanuel Josephson's Rockefeller 'Internationalist': The Man Who Misrules The World, and Dan Smoot's The Invisible Government, or that of the radical sociologist C. Wright Mill's The Power Elite, which had outlined these same elite networks of power.

I disagree with that narrow assessment. Although there is much to disagree with in interpretation in Quigley's book, the originality and titanic scope of the work cannot be doubted or disparaged.

In a book much praised by economist and historian Murray Rothbard, author Carl Oglesby's The Yankee and Cowboy War: Conspiracies From Dallas To Watergate, has a fascinating discussion of Quigley within a wider framework of American power politics and subterranean intrigue.

And in a volume hailed by Gore Vidal, Christopher Hitchens, before he morphed from Trotskyist man of letters to Neocon mouthpiece, had some insightful musings along the line of Quigley in his Blood, Class, and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies.

Tragedy and Hope is indeed one of the most important books you will ever read.
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on April 19, 1999
I have read this book three times! It never ceases to surprise me. Quigley traces the evolution of the Establishment in the 20 century via his access to restricted documents in several countries including the USA. He mentions the roles played by foreign policy think-tannks such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Royal Institute of International Affairs influence in shaping the respective policies of these countries ie:USA and UK and their failures such as the Great Depression, appeasement of Hitler, their successes such as the domination of the executive government of USA, the foundation of the UN by using socialists and communist spies like Alger Hiss - Machiavelli at work- Here, he elaborates that the Elite seeks a Globalist Government divided along regional lines. More over Quigley sees the Elite as a Clear and Present Danger to Americans and the world at large , this propels him to write the book in question. A more systematic reference can also be found by reading the Bertram Gross' Friendly Fascism which corroborates Quigley's view on the Elite's need for a Globalist government via International Institutions and Agencies like UN, IMF, World bank etc.For information is available even as we apeak from THE COMMISSION ON GLOBAL GOVERNANCE at [...] and the growth industry of GLOBALIST ISSUES.Read also in tamden with Foundations:their power and influence by rene wormser and a series of monographs by sociologist G. William Domhoff to further corroborate Quigley's view of the 20th Century. - to the tragedy, we are the hope-
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on May 30, 2002
"Tragedy and Hope" is a sprawling history of the world during approximately the period 1890-1960. If one is looking for the details of some half-forgotten international incident during this period, he is likely to find them somewhere in this book. Reading "Tragedy and Hope" is a good refresher course for anyone wishing to understand twentieth-century history, especially the two World Wars, the events leading up to them, and their consequences. Unfortunately the index is sketchy and not always helpful in this process. Furthermore, footnotes and a bibliography are entirely lacking. Although the author, Carroll Quigley, was an eminent academic, this is not an academic textbook, and it is hard to tell just what was its intended audience.
The archetype of "Tragedy and Hope" is the work of Procopius, a courtier in the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, whose official history, the " De Aedificiis," celebrated the accomplishments of his monarch - but who supplemented it with a secret history, the "Anecdota," in which he spilled the dirt on the emperor and his wife Theodora. Much of the interest in Quigley's book centers around his dirt-spilling account of the machinations of international bankers and of the organizations they formed to exert influence behind-the-scenes on political and diplomatic activity, such as the Round Table, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations. While his discussion of these matters occupies a fairly small number of the book's 1300-odd pages, it has drawn the attention of so-called "conspiracy theorists," mostly on the political right (e.g. the John Birch Society) but also some on the left, such as the sociologist G. William Domhoff, who pursue much the same theme - that the domestic and international policy of the United States (and other countries) are manipulated by a "power élite" in a way that makes their supposed democracy largely a sham.
Quigley falls neither into the right- or left-wing camps, and was in fact a liberal internationalist who held views essentially sympathetic to those of the supposed conspirators. He did, however, object to the secretiveness with which they pursued their goals. His book went out of print after its first run despite popular demand. He attributed this to an attempt to suppress it by the forces he "exposed," which have been paranoia on his part, or evidence of an easily bruised academic ego - but certainly encouraged the conspiratorial view among others. Bill Clinton's public acknowledgment of Carroll Quigley as his mentor touched off renewed conspiratorial theorizing.
A broad view of human societies can do nothing but confirm the truth that élites are and have always been an inevitable feature of them all. That there has been an élite in western Europe and North America, made up of a mixture of financiers, industrialists, high-ranking government officials, and the social upper crust; and that this élite has exerted an influence disproportionate to its numbers, should hardly come as a surprise. If all these people were to have been eliminated in one fell swoop, they would simply have been replaced by another élite, differently constituted and differently motivated. What Quigley makes clear is that the élite he describes acted with a curious blend of altruism, self-interest, and often, naïveté. Their best-laid plans many times were based on misinformation and came disastrously a-cropper. The impression one gets is more often one of bumbling rather than of sinister genius.
Two points emerge from Quigley's presentation of this history. First is that he believes in the rule of experts - that people with proper knowledge and understanding (like his) would not have committed the errors he describes. Academics and professionally-trained managers are to be preferred to members of the big business haute-bourgeoisie and the decaying landed aristocracy. This book first appeared in the era of "the best and the brightest," and Quigley shows himself to be a creature of its zeitgeist. How ironic that managerial bureaucrats of the Robert McNamara type proceeded to steer us into the Vietnam quagmire and "stagflation"!
Second, one of Quigley's repeated strictures on the old Eastern establishment is that it was "Anglophile." It is important to understand what this meant at the time the establishment described by Quigley was in its ascendancy. Then the sun never set on the British empire, and London was the world's financial center. New York was the American satellite of that sun, and exerted a degree of financial dominance over the rest of the United States we have not experienced in many years. There was, in the great American heartland, a strong suspicion of this arrangement, as expressed by such conservative figures as Sen. Robert Taft and Col. Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. This view is most superfically and inadequately dismissed as "isolationism." Much of the history Quigley recounts suggests that the United States entered World War I as a result of the Anglophilia of the Eastern establishment, and the conclusion to which that war came as a consequence of American intervention set the stage for World War II. Although this in many ways confirms the suspicions of the "isolationists," Quigley cannot bring himself to say anything good about such unspeakable Midwestern yokels and hayseeds. Yet he does not approve of the "Anglophilia" of the Eastern establishment.
How much of Quigley's point of view was determined not by his academic studies but by something much closer to the heart - his identity as an Irish Catholic? From his office on the Georgetown campus he looked to the west and saw hordes of unwashed Methodists and Baptists, disgusting to his Roman Catholic sensibilities; Norman Rockwell America, but with Klan robes in its closet. Looking to his east he saw the hated Sassenach, hereditary enemy of the Irish, allied to an "Anglophile" and Protestant - mainly Episcopalian - eastern-seaboard American establishment that aped English manners and tastes. He could not stomach either group, and so he wrote this book.
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This is a very long book, longer than Laurie Garrett's Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health and it has taken me over two months, between other easier to read books, to examine. I strongly recommend that W. Cleon Skousen's book The Naked Capitalist be purchased at the same time, as it offers a very helpful "Cliff's Notes" and summary of the larger work.

I give this book 5 stars for substance, 4 stars for personal bias, and 4 stars for being both too late, and too soon--to late to have saved us from what Derek Leebaert calls The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World, too soon to be centerpiece, as I would have it be, of a massive public intelligence digital project to nail down all the relationships and follow all the money.

Carroll Quigley's book is excruciatingly dull and filled with thousands of facts in very small print. I never-the-less recommend it for purchase because it may well be one of the more fundamental references of our time. Two other books that complement this one are Mike Rupert's Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil and Jim Marrs' Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids. See also Moises Naim, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy.

Now to my final point: others get nervouos when I begin to engage the "conspiracy literature," and I have to reiterate that the conspiracy literature is no more nor any less rife with bias and error than the conventional literature. See my reviews of John Perry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' and Larry Beinhart's Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. And if your really want to worry, read John Lewis Gaddis The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past on how inept and ignorant most of our scholars are, or the more conventional Information Anxiety 2 by Richard Saul Wurman.

Quigley is the cornerstone for a public intelligence digital map that will emerge over the next few years. I anticipate that thousands of books and articles, including Sterling and Peggy Seagrave's "Gold Warriors" (which has strangely disappeared from Amazon but is being read by millions of Chinese in both Mandarin and common Chinese) will all "make sense," and I believe they will make enough sense to warrant a massive restriction on illicit wealth such as has never before occured under non-violent circumstances. I am NOT saying repossession, but rather an end to banks lending money they do not have, governments borrowing from banks, and intermediaries charging excessively while ignoring "true cost" of their goods to the planet. This book is revolutionary, but it is also before its time.

The books below provide critical insights into how we can empower the five billion at the bottom of the pyramid to create infinite wealth. I and 23 other co-founders have created the Earth Intelligence Network to do precisely that.

They also afford me an opportunity to make clear that understanding abusive wealth does not mean we much confiscate ill-gotten gains. Doing so would serve no useful purpose and it would spread so thinly among the five billion poor. We must let sleeping dogs lie, and create infinite wealth that stabilizing localities and enables peace everywhre.

Please do at least read my review of each of the below gifts from others:
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era
The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political--Citizen's Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
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on March 5, 1999
This book is huge, 1310 pages, but worth the time and effort to read it. One will get a glimpse into the higher circles of power, a deeper understanding of world finance and a completely different view of British, German and Russian cultures as they affected world events in the 20th century than one usually gets elsewhere. Quigley was said to be Bill Clinton's mentor, but much of what Quigley describes was probably known by Clinton many years before. One of the best works on modern history I have yet read.
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on June 2, 1998
I read Quigley seven years ago while living in London. The book blew my mind. At first glance, the book appears to be yet another boring, matter of fact history textbook. In reality, it is probably the most revealing history of the 20th century ever written (by a true "insider" who broke ranks with his plutocratic/socialist cohorts). It reveals what all of us seem to sense intuitively -- that history is to some extent controlled by a wealthy elite whose interests are not necessarily aligned with the public interest. I STRONGLY recommend this book! Read page 950!
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on August 17, 2001
Despite its length (1300+ pages), this is a well-written and persuasive book. Quigley's argument that powers with the most centralized and concentrated military capacity tend to become the despots of the world seems borne out by history--and is a process that contributes to the present globalization process.
My only real reservation is the absence of citations and bibliography for such an extended text. Although one could probably recognize the sources of the arguments and examples he incorporate in the text, and I do not think he is misrepresenting the sources he uses, I find his failure to cite them both curious and disturbing.
There is always the danger of becoming a true believer from reading the book, and this is where a scientific outlook is critical. Do check--extensively--other sources and cases before accepting the conspiratorial interpretation of history and social science that Quigley seems to espouse.
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on January 31, 2000
I thought I was familiar with 20th century history before I read this book. To my surprise, I learned something new just about every page. This book will probably seem a bit dry to some, but for those with a keen interest in history, it is a must.
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on June 11, 1998
I'm a PHd history candidate and have read plenty of history books over the years. However, Quigley's book has been one of the most influential on my thinking that I have ever read - although it has often been misquoted, misuded, and misunderstood. It is the type of book that can change your life.
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VINE VOICEon October 4, 2005
Quigley has done an immense job writing the history of the world from the elitist point of view. The winner, the powerful, and the wealthy usually write the history. Biased or not, based on evidence or not, they write the history or pay someone to do it for them, either way, they make it reality and a basis for the future of the world. As a reader, you must understand the history and the context in which it was written, in order for you to comprehend the dangers of the present and to predict the urgency of the future.
The tragedy in this book is in the Narcissism of Quigley and his oligarchy, and the vanishing hope is in the faith and the hands of the determined and decent people............
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