Ian Morris teaches classics and history at Stanford University. He seems to have read everything, writes like an angel and has a nose for the really big questions. His monumental new book, Why the West Rules – For Now, addresses some of the biggest conundrums of all. How did the West gain global dominance? How long can it hang onto it? And is there some grand pattern in history we’ve missed that might hold the key to the answers? Morris draws on disciplines from archaeogenetics to artificial intelligence to tackle these problems.
Previous historians have offered two kinds of explanations for Western ascendancy. The first assumes that the West beat the rest because of some inherent advantage: its classical-Christian culture, its luckily located coalfields or even its crinkly coastlines (more kinks allegedly breed more states and therefore more competition among