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2419. Why read Toynbee
Arnold Toynbee wrote a 13 vol A Study of History. Widely acclaimed theen but not much read since, and criticized by many in the world of academic history. I picked up vol 1 in the Glendale Public library when I was in High School. 28 failed civilizations!!! of which I had never heard of but a few. Put it on the shelf and never looked back .. Until a few weeks ago when the talk of our civilization (assumption alert) failing showed up in conversations I was having.
What amazes me is the relevance of whet Toynbee had to say and the clarity with which he says it. There is a two vol reduced set that seems pretty good. I will be comparing vol 1 and its reduction in a few weeks.
The basic idea is that civilizations emerge because a group of people find themselves needing to respond to changing condition, internal as in new ideas and externally as in war and climate. Yes. Climate.
These emerging civilizations in turn run in to new circumstance, again, new ideas, new wars and climate/food, and Toynbee writes about these challenges and the results that follow, some succeeding, some failing. His logic is pretty good and a great model for thinking about our own challenge and responses, or lack of response.
It got me to pick from my shelf Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. More flowery, less analytical in its message and less satisfying in my current state' but perhaps even better logic submerged and the greater elaboration may turn out to also be a contribution. Toynbee of course had read Gibbon.
So, go get Toynbee and read into it.