Read The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization by Anthony M. Esolen Free Online
Book Title: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization|
The author of the book: Anthony M. Esolen
Edition: Regnery Publishing
Date of issue: May 27th 2008
ISBN 13: 9781596980594
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.29 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.5
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I picked it up on a whim, thinking it was another book focusing on minor or unheard of events. Instead I was faced with a very, very slanted version of history where the author made no attempt to avoid inserting his personal feelings and interpretations into history.
To begin with, I certainly agree with him that early western civilization has gotten shortchanged in classrooms of late, although I tend to think that it has more to do with an education system focused on a one-size-fits-all solution. Contrary to what the author may think, I don't believe that multiculturalism is the problem. I think it has more to do with the structure of classrooms that bring all discourse down to the same level--the level needed to pass the test. I do agree that in our desire to prepare kids for a multicultural world, we don't lose our sight of Western culture and history.
I certainly not offended by the book-- mostly just perplexed by the level of intellectual dishonesty it evidenced. Any source material that supports his beliefs is taken as irrefutable proof of the wisdom of that time period. Anything the people of that time period did that goes against his personal beliefs is an example of what they got wrong. The author is an ethical absolutist rather than a relativist (of which be mentions quite a bit), but even here there levels.
And it's likely un-PC to say so, but his tendency to gloss over ever misstep of the Catholic Church and attack nearly every movement of the Protestant faith is likely to unnerve even conservative readers. Likewise, Female readers of any political stripe will also find it hard going. It's true that there are not a wealth of modern females in history, but to use this to degrade women's right shows a misunderstanding of history. Truthfully, the history of women is as unknown to us as is the early activities of the African tribes, because there are no written records recorded by these groups--only by outsiders looking in. And to say that the suffrage for women and the entry of women into the workforce has had no benefits is being deliberately obtuse.
A couple comments for example of the extreme views.
*He dares the reader to find any American teacher who knows the name of another Revolutionary War general other than Washington. I'm sure there are bad teachers out there, but get real. Oh, and likewise no English teacher can recite a Robert Frost poem.
*The Scarlet Pimpernel is an example of pro-aristocracy writing. Isn't a less extreme view that it's against revolutionary fervor and the loss of innocent lives?
*Darwin created Hitler. I know the Origin of the Species is a hot topic for many, but this really is quite a stretch.
*In lauding the country virtues and degrading the historical cities as "cultural sinkholes," the author never quite gets past that it's the cities that have produced almost every work of literature, history, philosophy and science that he references.
*To lay the fall of the Roman Empire on high taxes seems to be trying too hard for a modern corollary. (Although I agree that the rise of Christianity was probably only a minor factor as the new faith showed itself perfectly capable of going to war even in the early days.) If anything, splitting the Empire in two left both sides weakened and ill-inclined to defend the other, losing the benefit of Empire.
The book is a nice resource for its listings and bibliographies and it's certainly an interesting perspective. However, what bothers me most is the zealotry where the author himself seems to disregard any alternative interpretation of events. Troublingly, there are some moment of true wisdom in there, but there's buried beneath hysterical claims and questionable comparisons.
The author brings up some novel points that should be discussed, but as commentary and theory rather than as history.
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Read information about the authorAnthony M. Esolen is a professor of English at Thomas More College, and noted translator of classic works, as well as a popular writer for magazines like the Claremont Review and Touchstone, of which he is a senior editor. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. He also writes a column for the Inside Catholic website.
After graduating from Princeton University summa cum laude in 1981, he received his MA in 1983 and then his Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of North Carolina. His dissertation was titled "A Rhetoric of Spenserian Irony." He taught at that university from 1985 to 1988 and then at Furman University from 1988 to 1990. He began teaching at Providence College in 1990, becoming a full professor in 1995. He joined the faculty of Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in 2017.