Ever since the attacks of 11th September, western leaders have described a world engaged in 'a fight for civilization'. But what do we mean by civilization? We believe in a western tradition of openness and freedom that has produced a good life for many millions of people and a culture of enormous depth and creative power.But the history of our civilisation is also filled with unspeakable brutality - for every Leonardo there is a Mussolini, for every Beethoven symphony a concentration camp, for every Chrysler building a My Lai massacre. How can we come to the defence of a civilisation whose benefits seem so questionable? In this ambitious and important book Roger Osborne shows that we can only truly understand our civilization by re-examining and confronting our past, with all its glories and catastrophes.Sweeping in its scope and comprehensive in its coverage, Civilzation tells the story of the western world from its origins to the present. At such a dangerous time in the world's history, this brilliant book is required reading.