A majestic sweep over 500 years of Western Civilization. Barzun charts the rises and falls of the West in the arts, philosophy, politics, literature, and science. His writing is lively and conversational, a must for a book of this size.
He largely avoids moralizing and presents the passing centuries in their own context and shows how judgements of the past by the present are often ill-considered and unfair.
He is the least compassionate for our most recent century, and concludes that the 20th has seen the decline of the West since the early 1900’s. The book thus ends on a bit of melancholy.