This book is a collection of essays written in the late 1940’s collected together, so there is no unifying theme. But Toynbee shows himself at the top of his game. For those without the time or desire to read his larger works, this is a good place to get Toynbee in protein bar form. Here we have his classic ‘Islam, the West, and the Future’.
Despite the claim made by critics that his conclusions were those of a Christian moralist rather than of a historian, there is an interesting discussion in the essay of two principles in Islam that could be of benefit to society; one psychological and the other material. In his own words “…In the present relations of this cosmopolitan proletariat with the dominant element in our modern Western society are race consciousness and alcohol; and in the struggle with each of these evils the Islamic spirit has a service to render which might prove, if it were accepted, to be of high moral and social value” (pg. 205).