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  • Published: 21 March 2023
  • ISBN: 9780753559734
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

The West

A New History of an Old Idea

  • Naoíse Mac Sweeney



A prize-winning historian presents a radical, new account of how the idea of the West has shaped our history, told through the stories of fourteen fascinating lives. For fans of Sathnam Sanghera, Peter Frankopan and Edward Said.

*A BBC RADIO 4 Book of the Week*

'A fantastic achievement' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

'Bright, expansive, and iconoclastic, this deliciously witty book has the potential to upset the applecart of "Western Civilisation" itself... Magnificent' Prof. Suzannah Lipscomb
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A radical new account of how the idea of the West has shaped our history, told through the stories of fourteen fascinating lives.

We tend to imagine Western Civilisation as a golden thread, leading through the centuries from classical antiquity to the countries of the modern West - a cultural genealogy that connects Plato to NATO. It is an idea often invoked in the speeches of politicians and the rhetoric of journalists, and which remains deeply embedded in popular culture. But what if it is wrong?

In an epic sweep through the ages, prize-winning archaeologist and historian Naoíse Mac Sweeney charts the history of this idea - an idea of enormous political significance, but which is nonetheless factually incorrect and obscures the wondrous, rich diversity of our past. She reveals how this particular version of Western history was invented, how it has been used to justify imperialism and racism, and why it is no longer ideologically fit for purpose today.

Told through the lives of fourteen fascinating historical figures - including a formidable Roman matriarch, an unconventional Islamic scholar, an enslaved African American poetess and a British prime minister with Homeric aspirations - The West is a groundbreaking retelling of Western history and a powerful corrective to one of the greatest myths of all: Western Civilisation.

  • Published: 21 March 2023
  • ISBN: 9780753559734
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

Praise for The West

Awe-inspiring... Deeply researched, wonderfully well written and immensely thought-provoking, this is an important book which reshapes our understanding of the past

Dr Janina Ramirez, betselling author of FEMINA

A book to savour ... challenges us to rethink what it means to be of the West. The writing is as accessible as the argument is pointed

Sir Lawrence Freedman, author of STRATEGY: A HISTORY

Bright, expansive, and iconoclastic, this deliciously witty book has the potential to upset the applecart of "Western Civilisation" itself ... A magnificent achievement

Prof. Suzannah Lipscomb, award-winning historian and broadcaster

Sets the record straight on the modern myth of Western Civilisation. Authoritative and impassioned, this glorious book takes us beyond prejudice and preconception to a new story about the world in which we live

Prof. Josephine Quinn, author of IN SEARCH OF THE PHOENICIANS

A bold, sweeping bird's-eye view of thousands of years of history that provides a truly global perspective of the past. A fantastic achievement

Peter Frankopan, bestselling author of THE SILK ROADS

Incredibly successful and impressive... An honest, painstaking and thrilling story that upends almost everything we think we know about the world... I cannot recommend this book more

Jared Yates Sexton, author of AMERICAN RULE and THE MIDNIGHT KINGDOM

One by one she takes on hoary old myths, explodes them with panache, and leaves us instead with a richer, fuller understanding of epochs, worldviews and fascinating individuals from the past... Lots of people will enjoy this clever and thought-provoking account

Guardian

A forceful, well-written book, in which Mac Sweeney shows her command of a vast sweep of history

Daily Telegraph

A highly readable, vigorous repudiation of the Western-centric school of history

Kirkus (starred review)

Fluent and accessible... Mac Sweeney skillfully blends analysis, erudition and anecdote

Wall Street Journal

Fascinating... Mac Sweeney's breadth of knowledge and elegant style keep the book highly engaging

Dr Christopher Kissane, Irish Times

A bracing addition to the ongoing deconstruction of the historiographical pillars of western cultural supremacy

Michael Wood, BBC History Magazine