Many occurrences throughout history have had a significant impact on what Western civilization is today. In a world that often seems divided, the idea of a common cultural heritage unites people of all backgrounds.
Human societies have always gone through periods of growth and dominance, followed by times of decline and ebb. The rise and fall of empires are a natural part of the human experience, and serve to remind us that the world is not as solid as we would like to think.
The first written laws, the Code of Hammurabi, were established in ancient Babylonia; meanwhile, the Greeks developed democracy, a form of government in which all citizens are considered equal and have a voice in the affairs of their nation. The Reformation and Enlightenment brought revolutionary social change. Across Europe towns grew and were more connected thanks to the printing press; feudal power structures were replaced with centralized monarchies; and new ideas such as the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin encouraged a scientific mindset.
Colonial empires spread across the globe during the European Age of Exploration, leading to a period of rapid growth and expansion for the West that lasted until the Great War. These events ushered in the modern era of globalization.
In recent years, a new definition of the “West” has emerged. It includes NATO members and countries aligned with the United States. It also encompasses parts of the Soviet bloc that are now independent or have shifted from communism to capitalism. This has created a new tension between the West and the East as each group attempts to assert its own identity and influence on the world stage.
Western Lands, Western Voices features essays from an outstanding group of writers that include tribal government officials and scholars, university faculty, independent historians, and public lands advocates and managers. These authors represent the full range of perspectives and experiences that are central to regional public history, including the ways in which historical knowledge and interpretation can inform and improve tribal governance, museum work, and research on historic sites. This volume is an indispensable resource for those who want to understand and appreciate the rich complexity of western history and its significance to world history.