My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a remarkable achievement.
One is impressed by the sheer breadth of this work. The number of disciplines in which Patterson is well read, evidences understanding, and is able to synthesize--sociology, history, philosophy, classics, literature, theology, biblical studies. His chapters on Saint Paul demonstrate that he had read some of what at the time were the leading scholars on Paul and scholarship that was then new and paradigm shifting, but before the paradigm had fully shifted. One would expect someone not an expert in a field to only know the conventional understanding not the latest groundbreaking ideas.
One is also impressed by his analytical abilities, the way he structures an argument, and the eloquence he musters.
And there is the power and originality of his theses, the core one of which is that freedom, the central value of the Western world, is intimately tied to the history of slavery. And that the dark side of freedom has been carried into contemporary debates.
Other of this theses are also original and compelling, such as that it was women who first prioritized freedom and women who elevated personal freedom again at the close of the Middle Ages and the dawning of modernity.
A truly remarkable book.
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