A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future

Charles Van Doren, Author Citadel Press $24.95 (422p) ISBN 978-1-55972-037-3
Van Doren has a gift for the felicitous turn of phrase. On photography: ``The camera catches us in the act of being human.'' On Marxism: ``More than a billion persons are ruled in the name of something that does not yet and may never exist.'' A readable refresher course in Western civilization, his account extends from the dawn of recorded history at Sumer to tomorrow's computers, which may be ``true thinking machines.'' Former editorial director of Encyclopedia Britannica , Van Doren ( The Joy of Reading ) also proffers peculiar or controversial opinions--for example, his portrayal of Columbus as a ``probably mad'' monomaniac. On balance, this delightful mini-encyclopedia provokes as much as it informs, with meditations on topics ranging from Socrates's concept of human equality to Mozart, Kafka, the Big Bang, mass media and AIDS. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1960
Paperback - 978-0-345-91086-8
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-345-37316-8
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