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Zuger, B. (1947). A Study of History. By Arnold J. Toynbee. Abridgement of volumes I-VI by D. C. Somervell. 617 pp. 1947. Oxford University Press. $5.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 7(1):61-64.

(1947). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 7(1):61-64

A Study of History. By Arnold J. Toynbee. Abridgement of volumes I-VI by D. C. Somervell. 617 pp. 1947. Oxford University Press. $5.

Review by:
Bernard Zuger, M.D.

A certain amount of resignation is necessary on the part of the reader approaching this book. Obviously, Toynbee can present only a small part of the vast store of historical material upon which he bases his conclusions. But even that small part is not really open to the general reader's appraisal. It would take a trained historian with the erudition of Toynbee to match points with him. The reader is therefore pretty much at his mercy. However, there need be no despair. Toynbee approaches his material with a warm heart and hand. And any conclusions that a man of Toynbee's scholarship may draw are by themselves bound to be of great interest.

Then there is the matter of Toynbee's extensive use of symbol, allegory, and analogy. Without question such devices are necessary when one tries, as does Toynbee, to relate facts to their ultimate source: the soul or motivating center of the human being. Their use also adds to the richness of this inherently rich book. But at times it is difficult to know when he uses the literary devices figuratively, for illustration, or literally, for proof and example. This is particularly true in his references to Christianity and the Church. Some might object to the garb of his argument as being secular, but few will deny the force and cogency for our time of the argument itself and be unwilling to take it out of its vestments and examine it on its own.

The argument begins: Historical experience, when seen as a whole, is correctly divisible into civilizations.

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