FROM DAWN TO. DECADENCE. Years of Western. Cultural Life. to the Present. JACQUES BARZUN. Ha. HarperCollins/^/zs/rers. An outline biography of the life of the historian Jacques Barzun author of – From Dawn to Decadence – regarded as a classic cultural history review. Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuo.

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Nov 11, Nick Gibson rated it it was amazing.

The age of entropy

Yet, the biggest defect of the book is that it simply adds nothing jaques the known facts it recounts, does so with no grand style, and leaves one asking what purpose did the book serve? Are we learning how to live, or learning to die philosophy vs. I actually wish I kept some notes while reading it.

He really likes William James as I doand he relates him to many 16th century thinkers. As bad as things have gotten in the last fifty or so years it is clear that World War Two was the peak of human violence and by every measure- wars, crime, etc.

Barzun jacque mentions a particular year and therefore frees readers from the urge to memorize numbers and names and events.

From Dawn to Decadence: Years of Western Cultural Life, to the Present by Jacques Barzun

Throughout these revolutions, Barzun traces the interplay of major recurring themes highlighted in caps in his text: Entropy has replaced ideology. Yes, even though the book is a history of Western cultures and ideas and therefore the lack of specific years should be expected, I find the absence nevertheless quite something.


He does draw a few arcs of ideas throughout the years of Western European history, but that insight is nothing groundbreaking. Yeats and real art with Cubism, and has no idea as to what constitutes a novel or romance.

Admittedly, I did not finish this book, plodding ffrom or so pages, and so cannot give this book the fair, and thoroughgoing review it deserves cons This one was a bit of an impulse buy. Would it be hard to read if I haven’t learned anything much about history?

Part two opens with the ascent of Louis XIV and the rise of the nation state; it ends with the Enlightenment and the French Barzjn.

Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence – The Satirist

Matt McClure One could argue that this book is good for someone with your criterion: A book that, when you are done, you feel you know less than you thought you knew when you started. You may not always agree with some of his opinions and statements. He did identify science, free-market economics, and mass media as the driving forces, but the actual interactions among them were less clear as he was busy outlining the details of the ideas for the bulk ffom the story. There is one mind common to all individual men And guessing further at their preferences, I have tried to write as I might speak, with only a touch of pedantry here and there to show that I understand modern tastes.

The first segment takes us from Luther’s Protestant revolution to Newton – from the early sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century. In this account, Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaisance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time decadebce our pressing concerns.


THe book, furthermore, is not supposed to be a stand-alone. You may, like me, end up with many more books to read after finishing this one. Given small caps for designation, these themes appear throughout the story as currents that flow through the era’s cultural stream, each introducing its own captivating idea worth significant attention.

The last 20 pages or so are so odd that I was dizzy. Believing this to be true, I have thought it the right moment to review in sequence the great achievements and the sorry failures of our half millennium.

That being said, his writing is both exact and lax. That’s a weird statement probably true, but the Native Americans do get exterminated.

Barzun lacks both insight and the ability to convey knowledge well. Hamlet has to think and watch, because from the outset he is in danger, a threat to the usurper and his aides; all conspire against him, including, though unwittingly, his betrothed.

The book has numerous sidebars in the text that distract visually, but even worse, offer nothing intellectually, with some of them being patently ridiculous quotes from vapid pseudo-celebrities like rapper Ice T and comedian Bill Murray. This is fine writing by a powerful and opinionated mind. If one looks at the bibliography, it is stunning that any one person could have accessed all this knowledge.