Who would have thought a book about philosophy could be an utterly entrancing read? Actually, not just an entrancing read, but the perfect holiday reading for anyone who likes to think about stuff as well as be transported in the imagination to distant places and distant times
Reclaiming Civilization by Brendan Myers did all of that for me. It starts with Brendan sitting by a lake in the Canadian wilds, pondering about civilisation in general and about whether to return to the city or stay out there in nature, living a simple life.
His ponderings lead him to consider how our ancient ancestors lived when they were nomadic hunter-gatherers, and how civilisations have developed over the millennia to where we are today.
As publisher Moon Books says about the book on its website: "What is civilization, and is it a good thing? It’s a name for the most glorious of humanity’s monuments and cultural achievements; yet it also speaks of the conquests, oppressions, and empires which make their glory possible. This book explains the essence of civilisation, then asks what’s wrong with it, and considers what can be done about it."
It is a journey through time and through beliefs about social interaction and social structures. It is a journey of discovery that explains how civilisations break down and the problems they can have, but it also shows the benefits civilisation brings. It is not a nihilistic, depressing book.
And Reclaiming Civilization is also about Brendan's actual travels in the real world - first to the lakes, then to an isolated location in Eastern Europe, where he spends glorious summer weeks in unspoilt countryside with just two dogs for company.
Brendan shows there are many illusions about civilisation that need to be seen through, but he also shows that once those illusions are gone, we can work to create an environment that brings out the best in people and allows us to thrive in a society that works for the good of all.
If you are about to head out for an August break from the rat-race, take this book with you. Enjoy it, and mull over how to start reclaiming civilisation when you return.
You can view Reclaiming Civilization on Amazon
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