An exercise in selective history, as Stavrianos (Global Rift: The Third World Comes of Age, 1981) offers ""a review [of human history] from a new angle of vision reflecting the new facts and new needs of the late twentieth century"" in order to ""learn what we need to know now."" We are in a critical age, Stavrianos asserts, beset by material want, by wastage of natural resources, and by environmental damage. He sees our time as an ""axial age,"" an era of transition toward a new social paradigm (just as humans have previously passed from the paradigm of ""Kinship Society"" to ""Tributary Society"" to the waning ""Capitalist Society."" Given this, he argues, our mission is to develop societal forms ""capable of turning our technology into uses beneficial to the majority of humans"" (up to now, he believes, technology has been used for the benefit of only a few, at the expense of many). He looks to primitive cultures for possible guidance, finding in them ""the single most important object lesson for man,"" wherein the struggle for individualism is subsumed by the need for ""communally organized and ordained roles."" Stavrianos adds that ""a religious renaissance,"" typified by Islamic fundamentalism and the ""theology of liberation"" in the Catholic Church of the Third World, are harbingers of the profound shifts underway in our transitory age. Since Stravrianos organizes his material to support his thesis, this is not so much traditional history as polemic, well argued but--depending on point of view--either enlightened or irresponsible.