Read the Muqaddimah

I always recommend that people read history to learn about people, societies, principles of government and social change, particulary the stories of the Chinese emperors, Roman emperors and Byzantium emperors.

As to the early Aztec, Mayan and early Egyptian Empires,  due to a lack of records we really don’t know enough to make them the top priority empires I encourage people to study. The Akkadian and Sumerian empires, however, I would include on the short list of Chinese, Roman and Byzantium empires to particularly study in order to "learn from history" as a lot of material survives from these civilizations.

I also usually recommend the biographies of Plutarch and the Greek histories of Thucydides and Herodotus. I like the Greek histories much better than the Records of the Historian, a Chinese history, and the framers of America’s founding documents studied the Greek histories in order to design a Constitution and Bill of Rights that might last.

Best of all, I usually recommend to people that they read the Muqaddimah, by Ibn Khaldun. This Arab history is pathbreaking with its ideas on the philosophy of history, sociology, and the transformation of societies, power and economics. Much in it reminds me of Chinese Taoist works with their ideas on transformation, but this is an Arab creation and few people read Arabian writings (Ibn Khaldun was from Tunisia).  I believe in reading the best of the best, and this is one of the best historical works out there.

Other notable Arab historians include Ibn Abd-el-Hakem (History of the Conquest of Egypt and North Africa and Spain) whose works were similar in style to Herodotus, and Ali al-Masudi who was actually known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs." Other notable histoprians include Hamdani and Al-Jahiz.

You see, although I write a lot about Chinese and Indian cultivation and cultures, I have no particular inherent bias to Chinese or Indian works, and really wish we had more original works by ancient Indian and Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian authors, as these represented immense kingdoms. You learn much about  human behavior and governing by studying histories of empries and man’s development of methods for leading great masses of people, which is why I advise people to study history. I simply focus on Chinese and Indian cultivation because these civilizations have left us the most records on what to do and what will happen. The root of it all for the WORLD is actually India, not China.

On a side note, I really wish someone would take Greek and Roman classics and turn them into cartoons as Chih Tsai Chung did for Chinese works, as it’s a project I’ve long hoped to do. I can write the books but cannot make the cartoons — the beauty or attraction to people is all in the cartoons.

For a short synopsis of the Muqaddimah, which I am particularly recommedning today, you can find more at 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muqaddimah.

You can actually find it here:

http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ik/Muqaddimah/Int_Mat_Bk_One.htm

My short list of history books from different cultures includes, in no particular order:

The History of the Peloponnessian War 
Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans 
Muqaddimah - Ibn Khaldun
Records of the Grand Historian - Sima Qian (Ssu Ma Chien)

Modern Authors you Might Enjoy:

History Begins at Sumer
The Conquest of Mexico, The Conquest of Peru - Prescott
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Gibbon
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy - Burckhardt



 



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