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Arthur Herman has now written the definitive sequel to his New York Times bestseller, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, and extends the themes of the book--which sold half a million copies worldwide--back to the ancient Greeks and forward to the age of the Internet. The Cave and the Light is a magisterial account of how the two greatest thinkers of the ancient world, Plato and Aristotle, laid the foundations of Western culture--and how their rivalry shaped the essential features of our culture down to the present day. Plato came from a wealthy, connected Athenian family and lived a comfortable upper-class lifestyle until he met an odd little man named Socrates, who showed him a new world of ideas and ideals. Socrates taught Plato that a man must use reason to attain wisdom, and that the life of a lover of wisdom, a philosopher, was the pinnacle of achievement. Plato dedicated himself to living that ideal and went on to create a school, his famed Academy, to teach others the path to enlightenment through contemplation. However, the same Academy that spread Plato's teachings also fostered his greatest rival. Born to a family of Greek physicians, Aristotle had learned early on the value of observation and hands-on experience. Rather than rely on pure contemplation, he insisted that the truest path to knowledge is through empirical discovery and exploration of the world around us. Aristotle, Plato's most brilliant pupil, thus settled on a philosophy very different from his instructor's and launched a rivalry with profound effects on Western culture. The two men disagreed on the fundamental purpose of the philosophy. For Plato, the image of the cave summed up man's destined path, emerging from the darkness of material existence to the light of a higher and more spiritual truth. Aristotle thought otherwise. Instead of rising above mundane reality, he insisted, the philosopher's job is to explain how the real world works, and how we can find our place in it. Aristotle set up a school in Athens to rival Plato's Academy: the Lyceum. The competition that ensued between the two schools, and between Plato and Aristotle, set the world on an intellectual adventure that lasted through the Middle Ages and Renaissance and that still continues today. From Martin Luther (who named Aristotle the third great enemy of true religion, after the devil and the Pope) to Karl Marx (whose utopian views rival Plato's), heroes and villains of history have been inspired and incensed by these two master philosophers--but never outside their influence. Accessible, riveting, and eloquently written, The Cave and the Light provides a stunning new perspective on the Western world, certain to open eyes and stir debate.Advance praise for The Cave and the Light "A sweeping intellectual history viewed through two ancient Greek lenses . . . breezy and enthusiastic but resting on a sturdy rock of research."--Kirkus Reviews "A fabulous way to understand over two millennia of history, all in one book."--Library Journal Praise for Gandhi & ChurchillFinalist for the Pulitzer Prize "You finish the book knowing that you can evaluate the world today, particularly modern India, with more knowledge and insight."--USA Today "Scrupulous, compelling, and unfailingly instructive . . . a detailed and richly filigreed account that introduces the Anglo-American reader to many facts and vivid if little-known personalities, both English and Indian."--Commentary
Remarkable as it may seem today, there once was a time when the president of the United States could pick up the phone and ask the president of General Motors to resign his position and take the reins of a great national enterprise. And the CEO would oblige, no questions asked, because it was his patriotic duty. In Freedom's Forge, bestselling author Arthur Herman takes us back to that time, revealing how two extraordinary American businessmen--automobile magnate William Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser--helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the "arsenal of democracy" that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II. "Knudsen? I want to see you in Washington. I want you to work on some production matters." With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enlisted "Big Bill" Knudsen, a Danish immigrant who had risen through the ranks of the auto industry to become president of General Motors, to drop his plans for market domination and join the U.S. Army. Commissioned a lieutenant general, Knudsen assembled a crack team of industrial innovators, persuading them one by one to leave their lucrative private sector positions and join him in Washington, D.C. Dubbed the "dollar-a-year men," these dedicated patriots quickly took charge of America's moribund war production effort. Henry J. Kaiser was a maverick California industrialist famed for his innovative business techniques and his can-do management style. He, too, joined the cause. His Liberty ships became World War II icons--and the Kaiser name became so admired that FDR briefly considered making him his vice president in 1944. Together, Knudsen and Kaiser created a wartime production behemoth. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, they turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions, giving Americans fighting in Europe and Asia the tools they needed to defeat the Axis. In four short years they transformed America's army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for a new industrial America--and for the country's rise as an economic as well as military superpower. Featuring behind-the-scenes portraits of FDR, George Marshall, Henry Stimson, Harry Hopkins, Jimmy Doolittle, and Curtis LeMay, as well as scores of largely forgotten heroes and heroines of the wartime industrial effort, Freedom's Forge is the American story writ large. It vividly re-creates American industry's finest hour, when the nation's business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.
Mohandas Gandhi and Winston Churchill: India's moral leader and Great Britain's greatest Prime Minister. Born five years and seven thousand miles apart, they became embodiments of the nations they led. Both became living icons, idolized and admired around the world. Today, they remain enduring models of leadership in a democratic society. Yet the truth was Churchill and Gandhi were bitter enemies throughout their lives. This book reveals, for the first time, how that rivalry shaped the twentieth century and beyond. For more than forty years, from 1906 to 1948, Gandhi and Churchill were locked in a tense struggle for the hearts and minds of the British public, and of world opinion. Although they met only once, their titanic contest of wills would decide the fate of nations, continents, peoples, and ultimately an Empire. Here is a sweeping epic with a fascinating supporting cast, and a brilliant narrative parable of two men whose great successes were always haunted by personal failure - and whose final moments of triumph were overshadowed by the loss of what they held most dear.
How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in Itby Arthur Herman
Who formed the first modern nation? Who created the first literate society? Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism? The Scots. Mention of Scotland and the Scots usually conjures up images of kilts, bagpipes, Scotch whiskey, and golf. But as historian and author Arthur Herman demonstrates, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Scotland earned the respect of the rest of the world for its crucial contributions to science, philosophy, literature, education, medicine, commerce, and politics--contributions that have formed and nurtured the modern West ever since. Arthur Herman has charted a fascinating journey across the centuries of Scottish history. He lucidly summarizes the ideas, discoveries, and achievements that made this small country facing on the North Atlantic an inspiration and driving force in world history. Here is the untold story of how John Knox and the Church of Scotland laid the foundation for our modern idea of democracy; how the Scottish Enlightenment helped to inspire both the American Revolution and the U. S. Constitution; and how thousands of Scottish immigrants left their homes to create the American frontier, the Australian outback, and the British Empire in India and Hong Kong. How the Scots Invented the Modern World reveals how Scottish genius for creating the basic ideas and institutions of modern life stamped the lives of a series of remarkable historical figures, from James Watt and Adam Smith to Andrew Carnegie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and how Scottish heroes continue to inspire our contemporary culture, from William "Braveheart" Wallace to James Bond. Victorian historian John Anthony Froude once proclaimed, "No people so few in number have scored so deep a mark in the world's history as the Scots have done. " And no one who has taken this incredible historical trek, from the Highland glens and the factories and slums of Glasgow to the California Gold Rush and the search for the source of the Nile, will ever view Scotland and the Scots--or the modern West--in the same way again. For this is a story not just about Scotland: it is an exciting account of the origins of the modern world and its consequences. "The point of this book is that being Scottish turns out to be more than just a matter of nationality or place of origin or clan or even culture. It is also a state of mind, a way of viewing the world and our place in it. . . . This is the story of how the Scots created the basic idea of modernity. It will show how that idea transformed their own culture and society in the eighteenth century, and how they carried it with them wherever they went. Obviously, the Scots did not do everything by themselves: other nations--Germans, French, English, Italians, Russians, and many others--have their place in the making of the modern world. But it is the Scots more than anyone else who have created the lens through which we see the final product. When we gaze out on a contemporary world shaped by technology, capitalism, and modern democracy, and struggle to find our place as individuals in it, we are in effect viewing the world as the Scots did. . . . The story of Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is one of hard-earned triumph and heart-rending tragedy, spilled blood and ruined lives, as well as of great achievement. " --FROM THE PREFACE From the Hardcover edition.
From Nazism to the sixties counterculture, from Britain's Fabian Socialists to America's multiculturalists, from Dracula and Freud to Robert Bly and Madonna, historian Arthur Herman examines the idea of decline in Western history and explains how the conviction of civilization's inevitable end has become a fixed part of the modern Western imagination. In a series of masterful biographical sketches, Herman examines the ideas of those who came to reject civilization as a doomed enterprise, including Arthur de Gobineau, the aristocratic founder of modern race theory; Friedrich Nietzsche, whose vitalist philosophy of irrationalism inclined a generation toward fascism and Nazism; and W.E.B. Du Bois, whose hostile view of the West would profoundly influence African-American thinking and multiculturalism. Ultimately, Herman shows how two of the most important issues facing contemporary America - race and the fate of the environment - have. been shaped and distorted by the assumptions of cultural pessimism. From the Aryan Nation and Afrocentrism to the Unabomber, the myth of Western decline continues to exercise a pervasive influence. In many ways, Herman suggests, today's culture wars are ultimately a struggle between those who still recognize the importance of civilized and humanist values and those who do not.
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