The West

Mac, Sweeney, Naoíse


Available on back-order

Many of us assume Western civilisation derives from a cultural inheritance that stretches back to classical antiquity, a golden thread that binds us from Plato to NATO. But what if all this is wrong? What if the Western world does not have its ultimate origins in a single cultural bloodline but rather a messy bramble of ancestors and influences? What if ‘the West’ is just an idea that has been invented, co-opted, and mythologised to serve different purposes through history? As battles over privilege, identity and prejudice rock the cultural wars, it’s never been more important to understand how the concept of ‘the West’ came to be. This book tells a bold, empowering new story of how the idea of ‘the West’ was created, how it has been used to justify imperialism and racism, and also why it’s still a powerful ideological tool to understand our world.

ISBN: 9780753558935 Category:


*A BBC RADIO 4 Book of the Week*
‘A fantastic achievement’ Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
‘Bright, expansive, and iconoclastic, this deliciously witty book has the potential to upset the applecart of “Western Civilisation” itself… Magnificent’ Prof. Suzannah Lipscomb


A radical new account of how the idea of the West has shaped our history, told through the stories of fourteen fascinating lives.

We tend to imagine Western Civilisation as a golden thread stretching from classical antiquity to the countries of the modern Western world. But what if this is wrong?

Told through the lives of fourteen fascinating historical figures – including a formidable Roman matriarch, an unconventional Islamic scholar, an enslaved African American poetess and a British prime minister with Homeric aspirations – archaeologist and historian Naoìse Mac Sweeney charts how the idea of the West was invented, how it has been used to justify imperialism and racism, and why it is no longer ideologically fit for purpose today.

The result is a bold and empowering new story of the people and ideas who made us who we are today.

Additional information

Weight 0.302 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.6 × 2.7 cm






x, 437




909.09821 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K

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