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No. 43: From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Critics

OPEN BOOK, Views & Reviews, No. 43
Copyright (c) 1998 Biblical Horizons
December, 1998

From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Critics, by David Gress (New York: Free Press, 1998).

Reviewed by James B. Jordan.

This book came into my hands after I had finished my series of essays on Western Civilization. It is so good that I was tempted to summarize it in the pages of Open Book, but I have decided instead to recommend it to everyone interested in this topic. It is somewhat slow reading, because it is dense with material, but is worth the effort.

Much to the distress of many conservative intellectuals, Gress argues that originally Western Civilization owed rather little to the ancient Greeks. For every man who got his philosophy of history from Herodotus, there were myriads who got theirs from Genesis, Samuel, and Isaiah as they encountered them in the Church. Gress shows that the myth of Greek influence was invented by post-Christian Germans and others seeking for a source of civilization from some place other than the Bible, which they (as anti-semites) regarded as a late-BC production of some groups of Jews. His presentation of this history alone makes the price of the book worthwhile.

I’ll write no more. I recommend this book highly. We are not going to sell it through Biblical Horizons , because it should be readily available anywhere; and if not, order one from Amazon.com or some other internet bookseller.