Worlds at War: The 2,500 - Year Struggle Between East and West

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OUP Oxford, Mar 13, 2008 - History - 548 pages
4 Reviews
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The differences that divide West from East go deeper than politics, deeper than religion, argues Anthony Pagden. To understand this volatile relationship, and how it has played out over the centuries, we need to go back before the Crusades, before the birth of Islam, before the birth of Christianity, to the fifth century BCE. Europe was born out of Asia and for centuries the two shared a single history. But when the Persian emperor Xerxes tried to conquer Greece, a struggle began which has never ceased. This book tells the story of that long conflict. First Alexander the Great and then the Romans tried to unite Europe and Asia into a single civilization. With the conversion of the West to Christianity and much of the East to Islam, a bitter war broke out between two universal religions, each claiming world dominance. By the seventeenth century, with the decline of the Church, the contest had shifted from religion to philosophy: the West's scientific rationality in contrast to those sought ultimate guidance it in the words of God. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed the disintegration of the great Muslim empires - the Ottoman, the Mughal, and the Safavid in Iran - and the increasing Western domination of the whole of Asia. The resultant attempt to mix Islam and Western modernism sparked off a struggle in the Islamic world between reformers and traditionalists which persists to this day. The wars between East and West have not only been the longest and most costly in human history, they have also formed the West's vision of itself as independent, free, secular, and now democratic. They have shaped, and continue to shape, the nature of the modern world.

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User Review  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

Competent but not a very novel retelling of world history. The running theme seems very much in the background despite constant callbacks. Maybe that's why you need the callbacks - because it's not really visible otherwise. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Steve_Walker - LibraryThing

Very poor Book. Author, regardless of his lack of religious background, ought to keep his prejudices to himself. Very Simplistic retelling of world history with no depth of understanding. A waste of time and money. Read full review


1 Perpetual Enmity
2 In the Shadow of Alexander
3 A World of Citizens
4 The Church Triumphant
5 The Coming of Islam
6 Houses of War
7 The Present Terror of the World
8 Science Ascendant
9 Enlightened Orientalism
10 The Muhammad of the West
11 The Eastward Course of Empire
Towards the Future

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About the author (2008)

Anthony Pagden has published widely on both Spanish and European history and has worked as a translator and as a publisher in addition to his many academic posts. He taught at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard before a professorship at Johns Hopkins University, and he is currently Distinguished Professor of Political Science and History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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