MAN'S PAST, MAN'S FUTURE by Stephen Raushenbush


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The ancient Greeks no doubt considered their cultural and political hegemony to be everlasting. The Romans certainly viewed their empire as eternal, as did the medieval Church hers, and the Spaniards and the British theirs. Today, America sits, as it were, in the driver's seat. The lesson of history, however, is that the slip 'twixt imperium and ruin is not only almost inevitable, but also virtually instantaneous. Mr. Raushenbush's intent is to explain that lesson and to illustrate it by correlating the events of the past with those of the present: what is the classic symptomatology of the fall of empire, and how, and to what degree, are those characteristics present in America today? Can America survive the four major and peculiarly modern manifestations of ancient ills: the depersonalization of society; the conflict among apparent freedoms; the anti-feudal reactions of the ""developing nations"" on the one hand, and their economic dependence upon the great powers on the other; finally, and perhaps ultimately, the question of how powerful political communities can be prevented from destroying the rest of the world ""in the interests of national safety."" If there is a basic question in the book, it is: Can America survive? If history gives an answer, it is a non-optimistic one: Perhaps, if. . . . The author does justice to both question and answer in a work of historical synthesis and interpretation that is remarkable in its scope and erudition, though perhaps a bit over the head of the reader without a solid foundation.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1969
Publisher: Delacorte