Drawing on a lifetime of studies across a broad territory, highly regarded cultural historian and critic Jacques Barzun here synthesizes the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500.
The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga which modifies the current impression of Western history as one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination of history, but as a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows that decadence is the normal close to a great period, and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth—tomorrow, or the next day.