Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick

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Walls, A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick by David Frye is admittedly a look at history through one facet only. Frye makes the assertion that building a wall sets people on one of two courses. The first being an increased ferociousness for those outside the walls. Theirs is a warrior culture. Women do most of the work because men need be constantly on guard against raiders and death. These outsiders look down on the insiders as being soft and weak. The outsiders also do not produce much in the way of art, science, literature, or invention. The same peoples change when they put trust in a wall for protection. The budding artisan can put down his sword and take a brush or stylus. The wall frees him to take on more of the duties of the women, freeing them as well, and civilization advances until the insiders become so far removed from the outside that outsiders conquer them and build their own walls anew. The point is they have managed to advance civilization inside the walls.

The book is well written. Frye has many examples of historic walls. He can point to many cases where his premise is true, although compressed in time; e.g. Constantinople’s walls held for a thousand years before they fell. At the end of the book are the Cossacks, who, by their reversal of the pattern, prove it; and societies of our own time, where walls have been built faster and further than ever. He ends with the question, “Who are the wall-builders of today?”

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Author David Frye
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2018-Aug-21
ISBN 9781501172700
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2019
Category History


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