THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION by Joan Thompson

THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Adhering closely to its subtitle-- ""An Historical Outline""--this reference volume reduces the scope of Western history to the form of a lexicographical list. Each chronological chapter handles a century or two from 600 B.C. through the nineteenth. A nearly telegraphic historical summary precedes a list of the century's ""achievers"" arranged under their respective disciplines -- philosophy, literature, science and invention, architecture, art and music. The descriptions under each illustrious name are super-clear and elementary: ""Plato was one of the greatest philosophers of the world and a great Greek prose writer"" -- followed by three paragraphs about his contributions in these capacities. The author's purpose is admirable -- to place the individuals with their historical contemporaries against the background of their age. But the information is too limited to be of substantial value. The chronological chart included with the book is perhaps its most useful asset. In it one can tell that Goethe and Sheridan wrote at the same time, Michelangelo and Holbein painted in the same era, and Graham Bell and Diesel were both busily inventing in the same decades. Beyond this kind of historical parallelism, the selection is too arbitrary, the descriptions too limited to offer anything more than a reference dictionary for younger students.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1965
Publisher: Harper & Row