The Measure of Civilisation

The Measure of Civilisation : How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations

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In Why the West Rules - For Now Ian Morris argues that to understand the development of East and West, we need to look beyond 'long-term lock-in' theories (that suggest it was inevitable) and 'short-term accident' theories. Instead, we need to measure social development - a group's ability to master its environment to get things done - and use the results to look at the patterns of history. Why the West Rules - For Now briefly describes the methods used to calculate Eastern and Western social development scores since the ice age; in The Measure of Civilisation, Morris expands upon these methods, discussing possible objections to this approach, and providing fascinating accounts of his gathering of evidence for his calculations. It is a magnificent account of where our understanding of the development of East and West comes from, and an unusual insight into a master thinker at work.

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  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 28mm | 524g
  • Profile Books Ltd
  • LondonUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • 1781250197
  • 9781781250198
  • 469,621

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Ian Morris has done it again. He has enriched the argument about 'why the West rules' with a treasure trove of information about social development over the last 16,000 years. No one seriously interested in world or 'big' history can afford not to read this book. It clearly and consistently told me what I needed to know about the social resources that provide the indispensable context for the interpretation of culture. And, it is an enormous pleasure to read. I cannot think of another book from which I have learned so much. -- Robert Bellah, Elliott Professor of Sociology, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley Praise for Why The West Rules - For Now: 'The nearest thing to a unified field theory of history we are ever likely to get -- Niall Ferguson A provocative and extraordinary contribution to wide-screen comparative history ... a true banquet of ideas Independent An important book - one that challenges, stimulates and entertains. Anyone who does not believe there are lessons to be learned from history should start here Economist For all those interested in why the West, not the East, industrialized first, this succinct and intelligent book provides new data, a new conceptual tool, and a promising new approach to this major question. It is a valuable, critical guide to Morris's quantitative index of social development and important for his observations about what we can learn from existing work, what features of societies matter most, and what future research is needed. -- Philip T. Hoffman, California Institute of Technology Morris's work is part of a resurgence of materialist, scientific approaches in archaeology and history. As such, many will be interested in the data and methods made available by this important book. The Measure of Civilization contains valuable and useful ideas and insights. -- Michael E. Smith, Arizona State University The Measure of Civilization is a terrific book-it will inform, stimulate, and challenge you. Beautifully summarizing and quantifying the major developments in energy capture, social organization, war technology, and categorization, storage, and communication of information over the last sixteen millennia, this book shows how far we have come and how this journey has been a cumulative process. -- Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of 'Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty' This is a superb book. Measuring how societies learned to harness energy better, improve their organizational and war-making capacities, and accumulate usable information, Ian Morris has developed a terrific index of social development. His fascinating conclusions and use of data will be controversial, but this book will become a classic source for anyone studying the nature of progress from sixteen thousand years ago to now. -- Daniel Chirot, author of 'How Societies Change' Praise for Ian Morris: "Morris is a lucid thinker and a fine writer ... possessed of a welcome sense of humor that helps him guide us through this grand game of history as if he were an erudite sportscaster." -- Orville Schell The New York Times Book Review Morris is the world's most talented ancient historian, a man as much at home with state-of-the-art archaeology as with the classics as they used to be studied. -- Niall Ferguson Foreign Affairs Ian Morris has returned history to the position it once held: no longer a series of dusty debates, nor simple stories--although he has many stories to tell and tells them brilliantly--but a true magister vitae, 'teacher of life. -- Anthony Pagden, author of 'Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West' The ingenuity and style of his arguments will make economists and historians stand up and take notice. Publishers Weekly

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About Ian Morris

Ian Morris is Willard Professor of Classics, Professor of History and a fellow of the Archaeology Centre at Stanford University. His first trade book, Why the West Rules - For Now [9781846682087] was published to near-universal acclaim and was the winner of a number of prizes including a PEN USA Literary Award and the getAbstract awards for best English language business book.

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