The End is Always Near

As a long time fan of Hardcore History I thought I’d like this book more than I did. But Carlin’s voice, translated to book form, didn’t seem to fit the page. The most obvious problem is the constant use of footnotes. This is signature Carlin, but in book form it’s distracting. Still a good read, especially for those new to some of the history, but it lacks depth for those who read the same source material as Carlin. I’d consider it a modern version of Durant’s Lessons of History, which I think you should read first.

Extended Notes

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes going up” -Voltaire

”…organization, tactics, drill, logistics and leadership…is designed to offset the natural advantage of the toughness that people at a lower level of civilization possess.” -Hans Delbruck

Carlin points out an excellent example of “Careful what you wish for” near the end of at the end of The End Of the World as They Knew it. He points out that:

“If…a Native American from five centuries ago had a bad tooth, she might really want our modern dentistry to deal with it. But if in order to get the modern medicine she had to become modern in all other aspects of her existence, she might not consider the deal worth it.”

Its a reminder to reconsider how we feel about our modern existences, and try to paint a picture of civilization in the past as some how lesser than where we are now. Dan writes:

“Certain narratives, such as “golden ages” and “rise and falls” are so ingrained in our thinking that its easy to forget that there might be other ways to see things…in some regions the Roman Empire taxed it’s citizens so highly, and provided so few services in return, that some of those people welcomed the “conquering barbarians” as liberators.”