29.6.11

"The Book That Made Your World" by Vishal Mangalwadi




Though many people seek wisdom, in recent times the bible has become one of the last places search. Vishal Mangalwadi seeks to reverse that trend by examining how the bible has impacted western civilization. The Book That Made Your World is a breathtaking tour of history looked at through the thesis that it was the bible which turned the west into the unique civilization it is: technical and tolerant, scientific and free, just and prosperous. Mangalwadi pursues this thesis through a dazzling, and perhaps overwhelming, array of topics; from rationality to heroism, technology to morality, and much else besides.

Though this is a long book of history, I found it quite interesting coming from the perspective of an Indian philosopher who mixed in stories of his home with the history of western civilization. The perspective offered in this book is very much worth thinking through, as is Mangalwadi's comparisons of the effect of the bible in some places with the lack of such effect in others. One must know, however, that there is some inevitable generalization and over-simplification in a book like this. One cannot look at such huge swathes of history and not run into those problems, at least not in a single volume of this length. Still, I was disappointed by two things: the lack of footnotes and support for some of Mangalwadi's points and the complete failure to examine any contrary points of view. He could have done a much better job of sourcing his material and he definitely could have spent a chapter or two examining other theories on some of his more controversial points. 

Conclusion: 4 Stars. Conditionally Recommended. For many people this book will be a hard and dry read, but it is worth it. Just be careful that you do not accept everything said here uncritically; there is more to say about these matters than Mangalwadi has fit into this book. 

Note: This book was provided by the publisher for review. 

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