Mythistory and Other Essays

William H. McNeill, Author University of Chicago Press $23.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-226-56135-6
Myths are based on faith more than on fact, yet myths underlie all human societies; they are our substitute for instinct. Using this approach, University of Chicago historian McNeill (Plagues and People, etc.) here looks at ""living myth systems,'' such as liberalism and Marxism, as well as dead myths, such as Nazism. He warns that the electoral process, and the ``democratic myths'' behind it, are in danger of being made irrelevant by powerful private-interest groups. In these essays and lectures, McNeill maintains that borrowings between ancient civilizations shaped the modern world even more than he had previously believed. He admires Toynbee for daring to link history to such matters as the destiny of humankind. Cameos of three famous historians whom McNeill knew personallyA. J. Toynbee, Carl Becker and Fernand Braudelpoint up how each man expanded the horizons of our meaningful past. McNeill urges a global approach over a nationalistic one as the only sensible way to study or teach history. History Book Club selection. February 18
Reviewed on: 02/01/1986
Release date: 02/01/1986
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