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The Right Side of History

How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
Narrated by: Ben Shapiro
Length: 6 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (169 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

America has a God-shaped hole in its heart, argues New York Times best-selling author Ben Shapiro, and we shouldn't fill it with politics and hate.

In 2016, Ben Shapiro spoke at UC Berkeley. Hundreds of police officers were required from 10 UC campuses across the state to protect his speech, which was - ironically - about the necessity for free speech and rational debate. 

He came to argue that Western civilization is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and ideas. Our freedoms are built upon the twin notions that every human being is made in God’s image and that human beings were created with reason capable of exploring God’s world. 

We can thank these values for the birth of science, the dream of progress, human rights, prosperity, peace, and artistic beauty. Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated the Nazis and the Communists, lifted billions from poverty, and gave billions spiritual purpose. Jerusalem and Athens were the foundations of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Westphalia; they were the foundations of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. 

Civilizations that rejected Jerusalem and Athens have collapsed into dust. The USSR rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, substituting a new utopian vision of “social justice” - and they starved and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings. The Nazis rejected Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and they shoved children into gas chambers. Venezuela rejects Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, and citizens of their oil-rich nation have been reduced to eating dogs.

We are in the process of abandoning Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law, favoring instead moral subjectivism and the rule of passion. And we are watching our civilization collapse into age-old tribalism, individualistic hedonism, and moral subjectivism. We believe we can reject Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law and satisfy ourselves with intersectionality, or scientific materialism, or progressive politics, or authoritarian governance, or nationalistic solidarity. 

We can’t.

The West is special, and in The Right Side of History, Ben Shapiro bravely explains that it’s because too many of us have lost sight of the moral purpose that drives us each to be better, or the sacred duty to work together for the greater good, or both. A stark warning, and a call to spiritual arms, this audiobook may be the first step in getting our civilization back on track.

©2019 Ben Shapiro (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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    4 out of 5 stars

Generally solid

I really enjoyed listening to this book. Having the author narrate his own work is always more personal of course.

Generally speaking the history and recounting of western ideas is pretty solid. Perhaps the main place I saw this was when it came to his understanding of Christianity. This is not surprising given that he’s an Orthodox Jew. The impact of Christianity I think is much greater than he tells.

Otherwise when it comes to his history of socialism and naturalism especially in modern history and current society, it’s a fascinating and insightful listen.

I would easily recommend this book, with those small caveats that I’ve already mentioned. And it’s not a very long book to listen to. The author is concise in his thinking and open about his generalisations. He also references many other authors and thinkers which is helpful for a balanced account. And it’s also a demonstration of the very thing that he’s trying to promote, rational critical engagement with those outside our ‘echo chamber’.

7 people found this helpful

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The responsibility of past and future

A brilliant and thorough presentation of our Western roots, comprehensively displaying the connections long before the Enlightenment and ever-present Judeo-Christian values in Its development, including atheists. Shapiro unfolds the wealth of hard won heritage we sit in and precariously carry, and the responsibility we bear to our children to carry forth meaning and order not the implosive chaos now threatening it. It is obvious we have been careless stewards in our comfort and ease collared to the rest of history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ben
  • 30-11-2019

Important side of history to understand.

I had originally been entirely put off Ben Shapiro because of all the click bait titles on YouTube, "Ben Shapiro destroys..." etc. But I was listening to a podcast where he was a guest and he completely opened me up to the conservative way of viewing politics and society.

After listening to the Ben Shapiro show for a few months I decided to buy the audio version of this book and to anyone who appreciates at least Ben Shapiro's clear desire to pursue truth as best he can, I highly recommend you purchase this book.

He presents his ideas well and excellently narrates his own work as you would hope from a self reading. The whole point is that there are so many ways to read history but he believes that there IS a right way to read it.

If nothing else it will give you a different perspective and most certainly leave you at the doors of discovery with regard to the philosophers, rulers and political figures of the past as there is simply so much to learn.

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Surprising and powerful

Phenomenal book.

I often have to drag myself through the last chapters of books because 'the point has been gotten' already. This one is brilliant to the very last word.

One of those rare gems that, when it ends, it leaves you not only more informed, gloriously mentally stimulated for weeks and forever expanded in your worldview, but also elevated and inspired.

All the brilliance of Ben Shapiro distilled into one treatise in defence of civilization.

Bravo!

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challenging at times, but worth the effort

Ben Shapiro is one of the few books I can't listen to at 1.5 speed because it is both complex and he already speaks at that speed. joking aside, it is a crash course history of how we have got to where we are today in a divided culture.

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I found it very interesting how the great thinkers of even hundreds of years ago faced problems similar to what we face today. At parts I found the book a bit too 'high level' for me but this just means I will need to do more background reading and give it a re-listen. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and the audible format stops be from getting 'stuck in the weeds' as it were.

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Must read for every young person

Ravi Zacharias recommended that every young person should read this book & so I did. Ravi was correct, this is such an important book in these crazy times when politics has never been so fractured & divided. If only we could get back to our Judeo-Christian roots.

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Must read for all high school students

Thank you Ben so much for writing this book. I bought it after you interviewed Ravi Zakarias.
This book contains the insights into how to support our society into the future.

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Love him or hate him you can’t argue the facts

Introduction to Shapiro was on YouTube, I love that he uses the facts not feelings approach
If you are interested in western history you will enjoy this book

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Brilliant

What a great book. I certainly have more reading to do after this one. Highly recommend

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  • Benjamin
  • 27-03-2019

As an atheist

As an atheist I want to let others like me know that the book has a lot of religious material. And there is a slight slant towards making atheism seem illogical. Dont let that deter you though. There is a fantastic underlying premise to the book and as someone who loves history, Ben is spot on when he points to the merging of Jewish spirituality and Greek reasoning as the turning point for society into modernity. And it is undeniable that the church built a framework for the rise of European societies. While I dont actually believe in God, the belief in him might be the only reason we made it. If only because it humbled people to see themselves as equal in the 'eyes of God'.

207 people found this helpful

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  • Emmett
  • 23-03-2019

I didn’t know Ben could talk so slow

For those that know Ben and listen to him speak you know he talks very fast. In this recording he slows it down A LOT. If you speed it up to 1.25x or 1.5x you will have normal Ben speed and finish the book quicker. Great Work Ben!

167 people found this helpful

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  • TM
  • 10-06-2019

Shapiro's approach contradicts his thesis

I had heard of but never read or seen Shapiro himself before. I agree with him re: the value of free speech and open debate of ideas, which is why I chose to listen to this book. His conclusions that we need to hold onto the values that have been passed down to us, and pass them down to our children are important arguments. His underlying thesis that we are the inheritors of a great (though not flawless) cultural tradition based on reason and strong values is well founded. In making this argument he runs through an impressive array of Western thinkers, but does so in a cursory fashion and presents judgment on them based on very narrow selections of their work. Ultimately he appears to discard most without really presenting a fair view of them - even though this is exactly what he suggests he's against. I'm fortunate enough to have read many of the works he references (and by his own report dismantles); it is sad to think that his interpretation may be the only one many of his readers will ever hear. He is defending reasoned argument and open debate but doing so by presenting only a fraction of the other side and not applying sincere reason. The best example of this I recall was his comparison of the relative strength of Western vs Muslim culture, that basically the Christians won the Battle of Tours, therefore Western civilization is superior. Such flimsy argument/conclusions contradict his (well-founded) thesis on the value of seeking truth by using reason applied to full presentation of arguments.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Sander
  • 05-08-2019

Not Shapiro at his best

Look, you can easily call me a fan of Shapiro, but this is not very good, He makes some good points, but they are all marinated in fallacious attacks of people he disagrees with, and dismissal of strong points without argumentation. Half way through I didn't really want to read any more, since I was feeling my respect for him dwindle. I'm glad I finished, however, since it gave me a better understanding of Ben himself, and the ending was very wholesome. Good luck on the next one, man, I hope it'll turn out better than this.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Ben
  • 21-03-2019

The first time Ben is speaking slowly!

I needed to raise the speed to 1.5 to hear ben in his usual speaking voice

57 people found this helpful

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  • Hunter Jacen Taylor
  • 02-04-2019

Thorough and brilliant

You ever get the sensation when someone explains something to you, that you knew it all along but never had the ability to put it into words?

That’s what this book is and is a testament to the veracity of this work and the clarity and precision of its language.

Shapiro does a wonderful job of summarizing the history of Western values as well as the forces currently besieging them. I cannot recommend this work highly enough, and this will forever be one of the 5 books I will have wherever I go.

27 people found this helpful

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  • CV Padre
  • 22-04-2019

History of Philosophy

The book reads very much like a philosophy class. I enjoyed the historical review. Shapiro makes few conclusions in the bulk of the book, although his tone does occasionally reveal his viewpoint. The end of the book is worth the wait, though. He states clearly the greatest imperative to people who believe in hard work, individual merit, freedom and respect for everyone - retake the (read the book)!

16 people found this helpful

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  • Brian
  • 11-04-2019

Interesting Project, but...

Very interesting project but Shaprio cherry picks and misrepresents the history of philosophy. I was under the impression that he had a much better grasp. Instead this was an argument for those all ready to buy into the conclusion before seeing the evidence. Somewhat disappointing. Not recommended for those who know well the history of philosophy.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 27-11-2019

Good, not great.

The statement made by this book is solid and I agree with it. The story is difficult to follow and not enjoyable. I believe part of this is due to it being narrated by Ben Shapiro. His speaking mannerisms are really difficult to listen to. He sounds like he is always yelling and every word drips with disdain.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-08-2019

constructive critic

great read, very factual, but dry and monotone in naration. although content is rich, left me exhausted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 26-03-2019

Incredible

Shapiro provides a comprehensive overview of our historical roots of morale reasoning and the evident straying from sense and logic so succinctly. This book could not have more relevance than in this day and age where reason is being increasingly abandoned all so that everyone with a victim persona does not experience the ‘trauma’ of their precious self esteem being offended... the world has gone mad and it is so refreshing to have thinkers and commentators such as Ben Shapiro to bring light to reality. The final chapters 4 lessons for his children are absolutely phenomenal- I am going to teach my own children these crucial lessons as now that I know, it is my responsibility. I am so grateful for this book. Thank you Ben.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Gabriel Amorim
  • 24-03-2019

A great compilation and critique of the current date of sociopolitical affairs

I have been twice through this book now and absolutely loved it. It is a great tool to explain where and how we got to the point we are right now with respect to the social debate in western culture.

For me, the only point I wish Ben had dwelt a bit more was on the contribution of Christianity itself in the points it can be contrasted to Judaism brought to the mix, especially after the Reformation. It is totally understandable- he talks from his viewpoint - but I wished more research and light was given to that issue.

Overall, Ben brings in the clarity, tenacity and capacity to interrelate multiple streams of contributions that forms the Western thought.

4 people found this helpful

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  • gearoid amazon
  • 28-10-2019

Leabhar suimiul le thesis suimiul

Ceapaim go bhfuil leabhar maith é le spríoc soléír. Bhí maith liom an stair ach níl mé ró-chinnte faoin loighic.

Níl a fhios agam go leor faoi diderot, decartes, agus voltaire. Tá beagánín amhras agam go bhfuil a lán claontacht sa leabhar ach níl mé abalta é a chruthú

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  • Vinicius R.
  • 25-08-2019

Very good book

I am positively surprised by the quality of the content presented in this book. As a jew, Ben sharipo knows how to keep his religious views at bay and state things as they are.
Whether you agree with him or not, you will gain from listening/reading this book.

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  • Nathan Beckett
  • 31-05-2019

A Brilliant Overview of Western Thought

Ben Shapiro's short but inclusive analysis of the key thinkers and ideas in Western history is captivating down to the last second. Readers who enjoy this may also enjoy 'A History of Western Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell which, at 5 times the length, covers the subject in much greater detail.

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  • reuben wilde
  • 09-12-2019

Good but one sidee

Good but, good research, though sometimes a little hypocritical and often turns to opinion, all around worth a listen though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-12-2019

Outrageously balanced

Shapiro shares beautiful insights based on a huge diversity of influences in this thought explosion!

I expect this book won’t please the highly vocal, post modern elite of our age of unreason but if you’re looking for a genuinely thoughtful assessment of how the west evolved, and where it’s headed, you’re in for a treat!

Let’s hope the authors nuance doesn’t get him lynched by activists.... on the right and the left.

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  • TheUnseendimension
  • 16-10-2019

Insightful but a little annoying and needs more EQ

when I started listening to this, the first several paragraps were really amazing and captivating. I just really appreciated the effort that went into the research as well as the crafty sowing together of the narrative. Like I most cases, everyone is buyest towards certain opinions so I was enjoying the portions of this that fell into my particular type of bias until the last few chapters when Ben started providing his opinions and views of a few civil rights related topics as were as commentators. What annoyed me is the slightly reductionist views of their work that he presented and not giving careful attention to why they may have said what they did in the first place as well as also addressing the deeper or root cause of the issues. one example I can give is on his commentary on the topic of the admission of more African-American students into med school by some universities in an attempt at being inclusive etc. He then goes on to say that would you want a to paraphrase, less smart doctor working on you than a smart one etc which is such a narrow and reductionist view. He is ofcourse assuming that most likely those African-American doctors who will most likely go through the same rigorous examinations as part of their studies and will be put through the same test will somehow be allowed to pass or advance through med school even if they fail and may end up being undeserving doctors who will treat people and make mistake. Like saying, other non-African American doctors do not make mistakes because they are of a high calibre of intelligence etc. Facts are great and need to be checked and used accordingly but they can also be misused or misrepresented as shown here clearly. So many things I can say about that particular passage but will leave it at that.

Lastly, the final chapter is pretty good and has some good points but I can see why some people may give Ben certain labels even though I may not think he is based on reading through this entire book. We live in a world where everyone is overly emotional and facts no matter how much research they have behind them will not always resonate with everyone especially if they are contrary to ones presuppositions and that's the EQ piece that we need to balance the equation and Ben needs to be conscious of that as he has these discussions. If you want people to buy into facts, deal with the emotional stuff first which I dont think this book does too well.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-10-2019

good introduction to philosophy.

definetly interesting to read as an intro to philosophy. good job Ben shapiro. thank you

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-09-2019

It's a very thought-provoking book, but biased

Ben shapiro is a very smart author, but doesn't provide any alternatives to his thoughts. It's a very careful selection of history examples, clearly designed to support his theories, but often lacking broader context.