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Synopsis

This lively text offers a brief, readable description of our common Western heritage after Europe expanded into the rest of the world during the Renaissance, then through revolutions that have created today’s technological global society. Providing a tightly focused narrative and interpretive structure, Brian A. Pavlac covers the basic historical information that all educated adults should know. His joined terms “supremacies and diversities” develop major themes of conflict and creativity throughout history. “Supremacies” centers on the use of power to dominate societies, ranging from warfare to ideologies. Supremacy seeks stability, order, and incorporation. “Diversities” encompasses the creative impulse that produces new ideas, as well as the efforts of groups of people to define themselves as “different.” Diversity creates change, opportunity, and individuality.

These themes of historical tension and change—whether applied to political, economic, technological, social, or cultural trends—offer a bridging explanatory organization. The text is also informed by five topical themes: technological innovation, migration and conquest, political and economic decision making, church and state, and disputes about the meaning of life. Throughout, judicious “basic principles” present summaries of historical realities and primary source projects offer students the chance to evaluate differing points of view about the past. Written with flair, this easily accessible yet deeply knowledgeable text provides all the essentials for courses on Western Civilization.

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