Will our past imitate our future?
"The purpose of this book is threefold: to explain what makes civilization civilization what it is; to show what we are in danger of losing in the event of collapse, and to point the way toward renewal."
There is a consensus in the West that something is wrong. Many people have the uneasy feeling that the liberal democratic order is in danger, and that civilization itself hangs in the balance. This feeling could be dismissed as alarmism, but the present moment of pandemic, political instability, and rioting is a startling reminder of the fragility of civilization everywhere. And we should never forget that empires and societies have collapsed many times before.
But history shows that human civilization also has extraordinary powers of recuperation, writes Michael R.J. Bonner in this bracing tour de force. Drawing on such examples as the revival of Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the ebb and flow of civilization in China despite repeated foreign conquest, he shows how humankind's quest for clarity, order, and beauty—the crucial elements of civilization—does not necessarily succeed through innovation or a futuristic orientation, but by thoughtful examination and imitation of past experience.