Conquests and Cultures: Military Expansion and the Making of Civilization

In This Review

Conquests and Cultures: Military Expansion and the Making of Civilization

By Thomas Sowell
Basic Books, 1998
512 pp. $35.00
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Together with Race and Culture: A World View (1994) and Migrations and Cultures: A World View (1996), this book completes a trilogy on which the author has been working for nearly two decades. The central argument of this as well as the previous books is that differences among the world's peoples -- in terms of economic performance, science and technology, artistic production, even IQ -- are primarily the products of their cultures rather than the exploitation of one group by another. In this volume, Sowell notes that the West had no monopoly on conquest and empire, only better organization and technology, and that conquest has been a virtually universal pattern among human groups throughout history. While many conquests resulted in brutal oppression, others led to cultural diffusion and ultimately progress on the part of both enslaved and enslavers.