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The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Western Civilization

Publisher: Regnery Publishing • 2008 • 340 pages
4.67 out of 5 • View Ratings Details • 12 Ratings
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization

Special Conservative Book Club hardcover edition — not available in stores!

Western Civilization is the envy of the globe. It has given to the world universally accepted understandings of human rights (rooted in the Judeo-Christian notion of the dignity of every person as made in the image of God) . . .created standards for art, music and literature that have only rarely been equaled or surpassed outside the West . . .and has originated political and social systems that have spread all across the planet.

If people today inside and outside of the West were aware of these things, “The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Western Civilization” would not be needed. But an enveloping fog of political correctness now obscures these and other truths about the greatness of the West. Leftists and Islamic jihadists find common cause in assailing Western “colonialism,” “imperialism,” and “racism” as the cause of the conflict between the Islamic world and the West, and guilt and self-reproach paralyze Western leaders and public figures — who speak of their own cultural patrimony in disparaging terms they would never dare to use about a non-Western culture. And in the academy today, small men and women, gabbling in a jargon incomprehensible even to themselves, flatter students into believing they have nothing really to learn from Sophocles or Shakespeare. The great poets are compelled to become one of us (Shakespeare is secretly subverting the Christian faith), or they suffer our scorn and condescension (Shakespeare is a patriarch but didn’t know any better).

But now, Anthony Esolen — conservative, Christian, highly regarded translator of Dante, professor of English at Providence College, and one of the team-teachers of that school’s esteemed Development of Western Civilization core curriculum — has risen to the West’s defense. “The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Western Civilization” mounts a fierce counterattack to those who hate the West, taking on the prevailing assumptions that have today made Western Civilization into the universal whipping boy for all of today’s global problems. In a series of nine vigorous yet breezily entertaining chapters, Esolen introduces you to the significant events, individuals, nations, ideas, and artistic achievements that make Western Civilization the greatest the world has ever known.

Why the West leads all the rest:

  • Why 21st-century Americans would benefit from turning again to Homer and Dante and the rest, and hearing them speak
  • How liberals of old differ from liberals of today
  • Ancient Greece: why it made innovations in art, political science, philosophy and other fields while contemporary and rival cultures didn’t
  • Why Plato labeled democracy as the most debased form of government — and how his critique of democracy anticipated criticisms today of the liberal, secular, and soulless state
  • How ancient Rome, especially during the centuries of the Republic, was as politically incorrect a place as you can imagine
  • What Jesus Christ has meant for all men, even those who do not believe
  • Why one of the great victories of the Jewish and Christian traditions has been the dissociation of God from the State
  • How Christianity advanced the insights of the Greek philosophers farther than they ever could have imagined
  • The Middle Ages: an age of superstition and darkness? Hardly: how from 962 (the crowning of Otto the Great as Holy Roman Emperor) to 1321 (the death of Dante), Europe enjoyed one of the most magnificent flourishings of culture the world has seen
  • How Renaissance secularism is exaggerated and overly credited with cultural advances — while the actual glories of the Renaissance were the fruits of the Middle Ages and Christian culture
  • How the ever-encroaching State, having driven religious devotion to the private sphere, has been to blame for almost all the violence in the West since the end of the Thirty Years’ War
  • America: how its conservative revolution opened up an opportunity for genuine liberty
  • Why statist socialism is not Christian charity, despite persistent attempts to equate the two
  • What went wrong with the twentieth century: the steep descent from William McKinley (President in 1900) to William Jefferson Clinton (President in 2000)
  • How Western culture has been dragged into a pragmatic pit by the hubristic promises of the enlightenment and the Romantics
  • The history of the last 150 years: a sorry tale of the growth of the State, and the State’s toadies in education, mass media, and mass entertainment, at the expense of the dignity and freedom of every individual

Today — with the West imperiled as never before by the global jihad and threats from China and elsewhere — defending the West has become an urgent imperative: if we don’t value what we have and what we have inherited, we will surely lose it. “The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Western Civilization” is an essential sourcebook for that defense.

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