TOYNBEE ON TOYNBEE by G. R. Urban

TOYNBEE ON TOYNBEE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1972 G. R. Urban recorded a dialogue with the eminent historian Arnold J. Toynbee, which was broadcast over Radio Free Europe. Urban has now edited their conversation for publication. A short and somewhat rambling colloquy, it is based on a number of carefully researched questions on topics that include historiography, Marxism, Christianity, science and technology in their relation to history, and matters of similar interest, alt discussed in a manner so highbrow as to produce a kind of anoxia. Verbatim transcripts of spoken wisdom are often dull reading, and it is possible that the broadcast was of greater interest than this published script. As a book, it leans heavily on the concept that anything a great man says ought to be preserved for posterity. Toynbee tends to speak in long, convoluted sentences with numerous Latin and German quotations (untranslated) and other donnish affectations. His basic premise is that history, as we know it, is merely propaganda issued by the winners of major wars throughout the centuries. He also feels that nearly everything that takes place has a parallel in the past (e.g. for Soviet Russia read Sparta). Toynbee on Toynbee will undoubtedly find a place in graduate school libraries and may even stimulate lively conversations among historical theoreticians, but it is definitely not for a general readership.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1974
Publisher: Oxford