This one had been on my bookshelf for a while. I got to it finally, and am glad I did. The book is Conquests and Cultures: An International History (1998), by Thomas Sowell.
Thomas Sowell is a black economist/scholar/thinker who has stood bravely for the free market and personal responsibility, for about 60 years. He was born June 30, 1930, and is still living at age 90 as I write. He has published around 30 books. Here is a link to his website: https://www.tsowell.com/.
Dr. Sowell was born in the South, and for a long time had little interaction with white people. Eventually as a child he was taken to Harlem. As late as about age 30 he still considered himself a Marxist. Then the light bulb gradually went on, and he was soon a champion of free market economics. He has been fighting the good fight ever since, for his people and against the race hustlers. His book A Man of Letters (still my favorite among the eight or so of his books I have read) will be very enlightening to anyone who thinks race hustling is a recent phenomenon. Dr. Sowell has been fighting that battle for a long time. He wants to help his own black people, but he knows the way to do that is to tell the truth and to have high standards of scholarship and behavior. A Man of Letters was published in 2007. I have a blog post dedicated to it on November 23, 2017. It will also be featured in my forthcoming book, Books I Have Loved (dv).
Conquests and Cultures is the concluding volume of a trilogy. which also comprises Race and Culture (1994) and Migrations and Cultures (1996). I have read Race and Culture, but not yet Migrations and Cultures.
Conquests and Cultures was not squeezed out in a day. This is the work of many years of research. The footnotes make clear that Dr. Sowell has read very widely before he has written. Anyone wanting further to pursue the topics he covers will have countless sources to examine, simply by looking at the footnotes.
Conquests and Cultures did at least one thing for me: it helped me see that there is a big picture. Sometimes there have been enormous injustices one group of people enforce upon another. But Dr. Sowell helps us see that with the injustices there very often come benefits to the people originally injured. This is in no way to excuse the injustices! But we can take heart from the fact that along with the injustices, quite often in the long run the conquered people also receive benefits.
That is encouraging. Also, we see that a people can be down, but not necessarily out. A people known for their backwardness, can over the course of time become a people known for their large contributions to world history. Scotland stands out in that regard (pp. 52-63).
The role of geography in how world history unfolds, is another point which I had not considered. The presence or absence of navigable rivers, or of natural ports, can make a huge difference in the economic prospects of a people.
What Dr. Sowell calls human capital is perhaps the most important form of capital there is. A people willing to learn, to work hard, to save and invest rather than to live for the moment, has an enormous advantage over people who do not have that self-discipline. Natural resources are of course a great blessing, but human capital is the greatest resource of all. Here is a small snippet on human capital:
“Human capital must not be confused with formal education, which is just one facet of it, and still less with the growth of an intelligentsia, which may be either a positive or a negative influence on economic development and political stability” (p. 349)
Dr. Sowell goes on to show how the intelligentsia, educated but not productive, can be a serious problem to any people. I would ask, is this the situation we have now in the U.S.? Our intelligentsia for the most part is comprised of people who have earned a few university degrees, and who consider themselves an intellectual and spiritual elite, but who contribute far more problems than they do value. The artificial (government) support for higher education has helped raise up an intellectual “elite” of people who would be better off working at jobs that produced something we really need.
Susceptibility to disease has been a large factor in world history. Here, the experience of the Americas and Africa have been exactly opposite to one another. In North and South America, the white man brought diseases that largely wiped out the indigenous people. Africa was completely different. There the white man ran into diseases which he could not handle; the white man was the one to die from disease rather than the African.
Another point which is very important, but which we often don’t consider, is the great value of just laws. When England became known for the fairness of its laws and its courts, that encouraged European countries to risk investing in England. This is logical. Just laws are of benefit to everyone. That starts with the people living under them, but the benefits do not end there.
In his concluding chapter, An Overview, Dr. Sowell has this to say about racism:
‘”Racism” as a blanket explanation of intergroup differences is not simply an over-rated explanation. It is itself a positive hindrance to a focus on the acquisition of the human capital or cultural capital needed to rise economically and socially. If there is any central theme that emerges from the histories examined in these three volumes, it is that the cultural capital of a people is crucial to their economic and social advancement, whether that people is a racial minority, a nation-state, or a whole civilization. In some cases, the factors inhibiting the development of this human capital have been geographical or historical. But they need not include self-inflicted ideologies or ideologies congenial to sympathetic outsiders, whose sympathies may prove to be more of a handicap than the hostility of others.’ (p.368)
Black race hustlers and their white fellow-travelers would do well to consider the implications of that paragraph. They won’t, of course. Truth is hard, virtue-signalling easy.
The above review barely scratches the surface of the many things to be learned from this book. It is thought-provoking and informative.
Unhappily, the book is not easy to find at a reasonable price. The best I could come up with today was $18.80 (free shipping, but sales tax will be extra) at AbeBooks. Inter-library loan would allow one to read the book for free–but with the painful caveat that one could not underline the many passages that cry out for such action.