EAST TO WEST by Arnold J. Toynbee


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How is one to take the measure of a country?"" remarks the author of A Study of History and Civilization on Trial in this scholarly and superbly written account of his 17-month journey around the world; the book is an attempt to answer the question. Made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to enable the author to revise his Study of History, the journey took the author and his wife to far corners of the world which he viewed with the same clear and philosophical gaze he has turned on historical fact. Avoiding North America, Europe and most of Africa, the travelers journeyed eastward from South America and the Audes to New Zealand and Australia, Indonesia, Japan and India, where they spent much time, thence to countries now vividly in the news: Iran, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, making no attempt to describe well-known places or tourist ""sights"", and recording impressions rather than detail. Almost overweighted with historical erudition, the book suffers at times because the author, historically at home in the places he visits, sometimes balls to identify them sufficiently for less learned readers. A collection of philosophical and historical travel essays rather than a travel book as such, the volume should have a definite if limited appeal. Historians should cherish it for its 20th century interpretation of the past and those who enjoy philosophical and historical comment at their best will delight in it, but it is not for the average tourist, Cook's or armchair, nor for addicts of lighter forms of travel literature.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1958
Publisher: Oxford