By William H. McNeill
In a retrospective essay titled "The upward push of the West after Twenty-five Years," McNeill indicates how his ebook used to be formed by the point and position within which it was once written (1954-63). He discusses how historiography therefore built and indicates how his portrait of the world's previous within the upward thrust of the West could be revised to mirror those changes.
"This isn't just the main discovered and the main clever, it's also the main stimulating and interesting publication that has ever got down to recount and clarify the complete heritage of mankind. . . . To learn it's a nice adventure. It leaves echoes to reverberate, and seeds to germinate within the mind."—H. R. Trevor-Roper, New York instances booklet evaluation
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Additional resources for The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community; with a Retrospective Essay
Long-distance trade across Eurasia thereupon dwindled toward insignificance owing to the impoverishment and political insecurity that came to prevail at the two extremities of the ecumene. On the other hand, seafaring in the Indian Ocean and adjacent waters probably underwent no comparable decline, although information is so painfully scant that one cannot be sure. Despite the dark ages, and the disruption of the earliest world system that ensued, revival soon became apparent, and in much the same way that long-range contacts revived in the Middle East after iron age barbarian invasions had disrupted the incipient cosmopolitanism of the bronze age.
Before 1500, capitalists achieved remarkable autonomy within the walls of a few Italian and north European city-states; and even after that political framework decayed, some few of the new monarchies and emergent national states that supplanted urban sovereignties in Europe continued to give merchants and bankers almost unhampered scope for expansion of market activity, whereas in China, and also in most of the Moslim world, regimes unsympathetic to private capitalist accumulation prevailed. In the name of good government, Asian rulers effectively checked the rise of large-scale entrepreneurship by confiscatory taxation on the one hand, and by regulation of prices in the interest of consumers on the other.
Obviously, modes of transport and communication are crucial for the circulation of messages within an established civilization; as they change, the boundaries and reach of the civilization will alter. This assumes a new dimension when, with the improvement of communication, diverse civilizations begin to impinge on one another more and more often and in increasingly urgent ways, since under these circumstances the autonomy and independence of the separate civilizations begin to shrink, and a new cosmopolitan entity—what Wallerstein calls a world system9 —may start to take over as the key factor in further historical development.