Arnold Toynbee's analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations has been acknowledged as one of the great achievements of twentieth-century scholarship. D.C. Somervell's abridgement of this monumental work is a great achievement in its own right. While reducing the work to one sixth of its original size, he has succeeded in preserving its method and character. The first volume of the abridgement presents Toynbee's philosophy of history as it appears in the first six volumes of the original work. This volume includes the Introduction; The Geneses of Civilizations; The Growth of Civilizations; The Breakdowns of Civilizations; and The Disintegrations of Civilizations. The second volume comprises volumes 7-10 of the original, including Universal States; Universal Churches; Heroic Ages; Contacts Between Civilizations in Space; Contacts Between Civilizations in Time; Law and Freedom in History; The Prospects of the Western Civilization; and Conclusion.
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It is safe to say that there can be few people for whom the reading of Mr Toynbee's work will not be a deeply significant event. It would have struck the imagination of any age by its originality, its range, its learning and its power ... here the reader is offered not some clever and arresting adaptation of the latest novelty in psychology or biology to politics but a large, measured, tranquil and philosophical examination of history by a writer who adds to the rare intellectual equipment needed for so Herculean a task the advantage of experience of public life and contact with foreign scholars and politicians ... nobody can doubt its immense importance to an age that is in disorder because men's habits of mind keep them in a small world while their economic life puts them in a large. ( The Guardian, Books of the Day from June 26, 1934, in on 30/10/99)
`By far the most audacious and imaginative view of man's time on earth yet undertaken by any historian...Reading it is a major intellectual adventure.' _Time Magazine_
`Anyone interested in the meaning of history, the life and death of civilizations, and the part now being played by our own culture in the whole story of mankind will surely find something in these magnificently fertile studies by one of the very greatest intellects of our day.' _The New Yorker_
' McNeill's book will be read, and enjoyed, for its own sake. I hope it will revive interest in Toynbee.' The Advertiser, Australia
The late Arnold Toynbee was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Research Professor of International History at the University of London and author of numerous other books, including Mankind and Mother Earth: A Narrative History of the World.The late D.C. Somervell was a teacher at Tonbridge School in England.
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