Meine letzte RezensionWhat Makes Civilization?von David Wengrow
The book describes how the earliest known literate civilizations (Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia) worked, how their governments, politics and - most important of all - economy functioned, and how they were able to grow and develop because of cross-cultural exchange.
There are some theories and ideas introduced in this book that I haven’t really seen that much outside of academic discourse so far. As someone who loves Ancient Near Eastern cultures, I was extremely happy to see them represented in connection with our modern concept of civilization. Today we understand this concept as a western idea, when in fact it stems from the MENA region. The book makes this point beautifully, and provides ample evidence for it.
While I appreciated the first part of the book - which reads like a tiny university course in ancient cultures and the theories of interpreting them - I found the part where the author tries to tie this in with modern times somewhat lacking. It feels like an afterthought, just a few brief pages before the end, and the question of “the future of the West” isn’t really addressed in a satisfying way. Which makes both title and description of the book feel a little misleading.
The book is very short, far too short for its content and ambition in my opinion. It could easily be double its length, if not more. The text feels at times very compressed and dense, especially when there is a lot of information given. I think a little less brevity would have allowed for more engaging writing and maybe for a more fleshed-out argument.
However, as an introduction to the study of ancient cultures and the concept of civilization, it works really well.