"Sic omnia fatis in peius ruere ac retro sublapsa referre."
(All mortal things are subject to decay.)
This is a handsome book in all pertinent respects. It is stately of subject, nicely written, well-edited, and eye-winning in cover—especially the jacket. Roberts, a well-known British historian and university chancellor, has written the book, we are told, to accompany a 13-part television series which will bear the same title. Given the BBC genius for dramatic, especially historical, presentations, Americans should be in for another lustrous television experience, one to match, let us hope, Lord Clark's now almost legendary Civilization.
All the familiar, traditional settings, personages, and events are found in the book, the ones the moderately educated viewers will look forward to from the very beginning of the series: Rome's decline and fall; the rise of Christianity; Charlemagne's crowning; 1066; the repulse of Islam in time's nick; the slumbering Middle Ages; the redemption of the West by the Renaissance (here denoted "New Age"); the blessed Enlightenment with its gifts of freedom, justice, democracy, and other good things; Western expansion to the outermost limits, imperialism, colonialism, Americanism, and industrialism; and the never-ending piling up of technological marvels and, with these, of envies,...