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BRUCE S. THORNTON grew up on a cattle ranch in Fresno County, California. He received his BA in Latin from UCLA in 1975, and his PhD in Comparative Literature: Greek, Latin, and English, from UCLA in 1983. Thornton is a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University in Fresno, California. He is the author of ten books and numerous essays, columns, and reviews on Greek culture and civilization and their influence on the West, and on contemporary political and educational issues. He currently is a Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where he is a member of the Working Group on Military History and Contemporary Conflict. His latest books are The Wages of Appeasement: From Ancient Greece to Obama’s America and Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama.
The long-simmering crises challenging the European Union have worsened with the 2008 financial crisis, the influx of Middle East refugees in 2015, several bloody terrorist attacks, and England’s departure from the E.U. in 2016. Yet these are all the wages of persistent flaws in the idea of the Union itself.
The Wages of Appeasement explores the reasons why a powerful state gives in to aggressors. It tells the story of three historical examples of appeasement: the greek city-states of the fourth century b.c., which lost their freedom to Philip II of Macedon; England in the twenties and thirties, and the failure to stop Germany’s aggression that led to World War II; and America’s current war against Islamic jihad and the 30-year failure to counter Iran’s attacks on the U.S.
Once a colossus dominating the globe, Europe today is a doddering convalescent. Sluggish economic growth, high unemployment, an addiction to expensive social welfare entitlements, a dwindling birth-rate among native Europeans, and most important, an increasing Islamic immigrant population chronically underemployed yet demographically prolific–all point to a future in which Europe will be transformed beyond recognition, a shrinking museum culture riddled with ever-expanding Islamist enclaves.
Nearly seventy years ago, Edith Hamilton published The Greek Way, a book that educated two generations of readers about the debt we owe the handful of city-states that developed “the spirit of the West” some 2500 years ago. Bruce Thornton’s Greek Ways is for our time what Hamilton’s book was for a prior era: a classic inquiry holding up a mirror to Greek culture in which we can see ourselves.
On a hot July dawn in 1853, a gunfight took place on the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. When the smoke cleared, Joaquin Murrieta, one of the most notorious bandits of the Gold Rush lay dead. Soon his severed head was traveling around the new state of California in a pickling jar.