Gregor Dallas

The Snake Winds Forward

Civilization: A New History of the Western World

By

Jonathan Cape 506pp £20 order from our bookshop

Are we civilised? City blight, broken families, functional illiteracy, corporate thuggery and yobbishness make us ponder a moment. Have we ever been civilised? Brutal war and genocide have accompanied the growth of ‘Western civilisation’ since it started 3,000 years ago. ‘This is civilisation’s fight,’ was President George Bush’s first public remark on the day those two towers in New York crumbled. What, he means a civilisation based on war and genocide?

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,