Monday, September 13, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 34



I was hoping that A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright would provide an intriguing look into the history of ancient civilizations that have fallen. And it does. However, for my tastes the book was too concise and the author tended to make liberal interpretations of historical events and theories {which I found annoying}. I would be interested in reading a book that looks at these fallen ancient civilizations in more detail without having some type of a political agenda.

Some passages that stuck out to me are:
Someone fond of logical absurdities once defined specialists as "people who know more and more about less and less, until they know all about nothing."

Farming achieved quantity at the expense of quality: more food and more people, but seldom better nourishment or lives. People gave up a broad array of wild foods for a handful of starchy roots and grasses... As we domesticated plants, the plants domesticated us. Without us, they die; and without them, so do we.

When Cortes landed in Mexico he found roads, canals, cities, palaces, schools, law courts, markets, irrigation works, kings, priests, temples, peasants, artisans, armies, astronomers, merchants, sports, theater, art, music and books. High civilization, differing in detail but alike in essentials, had evolved independently on both sides of the earth.

Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes. Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality.

...terrorism cannot be stopped by addressing symptoms and not the cause. Violence is bred by injustice, poverty, inequality and other violence.

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