Thursday, January 27, 2005
Yet Another Book Report
It must be winter, 'cause I'm actually reading the books on my nightstand! How the Irish Shaved Civilization introduced me to the writing of Thomas Cahill and his "The Hinges of HIstory" series. The series is about the genisis of Western thought, and four of the seven books planned for the series have been completed. The second book of the series if The Gift of the Jews, a book I found surprising.
Cahill asserts that the Western notion of democracy begins with the ancient Hebrews, not the ancient Greeks. He also makes the case that the Western notions of individuality, justice, and freedom are a result of the revolutionary changes brought about by a hard-scrabble band of travellers.
We are the undeserving recipients of this history of the Jews, this long, excessive, miraculous developmento f ethical monotheism without which our ideas of equity and personalism are unlikely ever to have come into being and surely would have never matured in the way they have.
Like the first book of the series, Cahill analizes early texts of the ancient people and places the ideas expressed in these texts into a broader social and historical context. Cahill's genius is to synthesize and summarize a large body of research into one very enjoyable read. Did I just call this guy a genius? He seems pretty darn smart, and his books make history interesting. The other books in the series are definately on my reading list.