Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
Notable Book for 2011
Sometime around 1750, English entrepreneurs unleashed the astounding energies of steam and coal, and the world was forever changed. The emergence of factories, railroads, and gunboats propelled the Wests rise to power in the nineteenth century, and the development of computers and nuclear weapons in the twentieth century secured its global supremacy. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, many worry that the emerging economic power of China and India spells the end of the West as a superpower. In order to understand this possibility, we need to look back in time. Why has the West dominated the globe for the past two hundred years, and will its power last?
Describing the patterns of human history, the archaeologist and historian Ian Morris offers surprising new answers to both questions. It is not, he reveals, differences of race or culture, or even the strivings of great individuals, that explain Western dominance. It is the effects of geography on the everyday efforts of ordinary people as they deal with crises of resources, disease, migration, and climate. As geography and human ingenuity continue to interact, the world will change in astonishing ways, transforming Western rule in the process.
Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Why the West Rules—for Now spans fifty thousand years of history and offers fresh insights on nearly every page. The book brings together the latest findings across disciplines—from ancient history to neuroscience—not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the future will bring in the next hundred years.
"Morris' new book illustrates perfectly why one really scholarly book about the past is worth a hundred fanciful works of futurology. Morris is the world's most talented ancient historian, a man as much at home with state-of-the-art archaeology as with the classics as they used to be studied . . . He has brilliantly pulled off what few modern academics would dare to attempt: a single-volume history of the world that offers a bold and original answer to the question, Why did the societies that make up 'the West' pull ahead of 'the Rest' not once but twice, and most spectacularly in the modern era after around 1500? Wearing his impressive erudition lightly -- indeed, writing with a wit and clarity that will delight the lay reader -- Morris uses his own ingenious index of social development as the basis for his answer." Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs
"A formidable, richly engrossing effort to determine why Western institutions dominate the world . . . Readers will enjoy [Morris's] lively prose and impressive combination of scholarship . . . with economics and science. A superior contribution to the grand-theory-of-human-history genre." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Why the West Rules -- For Now spans 50,000 years of history and brings together the latest findings across disciplines not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the future will bring.
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A story fifty thousand years in the making, Why the West Rules—for Now claims a place among the modern classics of world history. Author Ian Morris—polymath, internationally renowned scholar, and “the worlds most talented ancient historian” (Niall Ferguson)—explains anew the story of Western dominance in this unified theory of all things geopolitical. Describing the patterns of human history, Morris brings together the latest findings across disciplines—from ancient history to neuroscience—not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the next hundred years will bring. At once vibrant, scholarly, and entertaining, Why the West Rules—for Now is “a stunningly informative, imaginative, and engaging account...provocative...and intellectually stimulating” (Glenn C. Altschuler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
About the Author
IAN MORRIS is Willard Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University. He has published ten scholarly books, including, most recently, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires, and has directed excavations in Greece and Italy. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.