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Leaving Western Civ Behind by William H. McNeill


William H. (Bill) McNeill (1917-2016) continued to write for decades after his retirement from the University of Chicago. He published several books, including The Human Web, with his son J. R. McNeill, and an autobiography called The Pursuit of Truth. In that book he details his experiences on the 1992 Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission. Bill was no proponent of European superiority, and his knowledge of the importance of disease, the subject of one of his most famous books, Plagues and Peoples, came to the fore as he tried to explain the biological dimensions of the Columbian encounter. It was a frustrating experience as Bill had been pigeon-holed by the radical environmentalists as a promoter of Western civilizationwhile in fact, he was largely responsible for what he later called, in a speech and article, “Leaving Western Civ Behind.” His focus on the ecological dimension of world history began very early and came through in everything we did together.

This recording was made at the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem, MA, as part of the 2009 World History Association. It took place on 26 June 2009 and was sponsored by Berkshire Publishing Group. It may be the last speech Bill delivered, but the following year he traveled to the White House to receive the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.

He was senior editor of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, and when he gave this speech he was working with Karen Christensen on the second edition, to which he made major changes and contributed a number of new articles.

A PDF of the speech as published in Liberal Education can be downloaded by clicking here.

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Brexit, TPP, and the UK-China Relationship

Kerry BrownKerry Brown discusses Brexit, UK-China relations, and how the anti-globalization mood evident today is likely to affect Chinese politics, both domestically and internationally. He presents a realistic but generally positive view of the opportunities for research and collaboration. This podcast will be useful to teachers, scholars, and business professionals concerned about China’s role in the global community.

Brexit, the June 2016 UK referendum to leave the European Union, sent shockwaves across the world. Its epicenter was London, the city Kerry Brown had recently returned to after three years in Australia. In this podcast, Christensen asks what Brexit means to him and others whose job is studying and analyzing China. They discuss globalization (and antiglobalization), the growing backlash against trade agreements, and prospects for the Trans Pacific Partnership. Brown looks at China’s success as a result of the market access it gained through WTO membership, its view of the UK and the EU, and talks about dealing with the China that is rather than the China we might have been hoping for.

Length: 26 minutes. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Two days after the US presidential election of 2016, Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at Kings College London, spoke in New York at a program hosted by Steve Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations. Berkshire Publishing is pleased to share the links to recordings from that program here.

“Chinese Leadership and the Tide of History”

10 November 2016, National Committee on US-China Relations, New York

Do leaders make history or does history make leaders? Kerry Brown tackles these perennial questions, drawing on the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography, which he edited, and his recent book CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping.

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