PLEDGE NOW
Jacques Barzun And Civilization In Decline

The great historian Jacques Barzun is dead at 104. He said western civilization is in decline. We’ll debate.

Sacco di Roma 455 (WikiCommons)

Sacco di Roma 455 (WikiCommons)

Civilizations rise and fall.  Last week, a great narrator of the civilization of the West fell.  Jacques Barzon.  At 104.  Immigrant intellectual and American icon.  He invented the modern idea of cultural history.  Spent a long lifetime focused on history, art, music, science, baseball, Berlioz.

And in his venerated ‘90s, wrote a bestseller titled “From Dawn to Decadence,”  looking at 500 years of Western history and concluding the West is in decline.  Was he right?

This hour, On Point:  Jacques Barzon’s summation, and the question – are we living the decline of the West?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Murray, author of Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind and editor of A Jacques Barzun Reader.

John Lukacs, historian and longtime friend of Jacques Barzun.

James Miller, professor of political science and liberal studies at the New School. His most recent book is Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzche.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “Jacques Barzun, a Columbia University historian and administrator whose sheer breadth of scholarship — culminating in a survey of 500 years of Western civilization — brought him renown as one of the foremost intellectuals of the 20th century, died Oct. 25 in San Antonio, where he had lived in recent years. He was 104.”

New York Times “Mr. Barzun was a man of boundless curiosity, monumental productivity and manifold interests, encompassing both Berlioz and baseball. It was a life of the mind first cultivated more than a century ago in a childhood home outside Paris that became an avant-garde salon.”

Playlist

March to the Scaffold (from Symphonie Fantastique) — Hector Berlioz

The Damnation of Faust — Hector Berlioz

Requiem — Hector Berlioz

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie buttons his coat as he leaves Gilchrist Metal Company after a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment