book review: The Long Road to Humanity by Stanton Coblentz

book review:  The Long Road to Humanity by Stanton Coblentz

Hey everyone,

Some subscribers prefer our more substantive essays on thought provoking topics.  We offer this essay for those subscribers and any others who may be interested.

But first, with the Labor Day holiday approaching in the US (Monday, September 3), we ask:  Why does management get the day off?  It is “Labor” Day after all.

Stanton A. Coblentz (1896 – 1982) was an American author and poet.  He wrote much science fiction in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  (That is how we came to know of him.)  He also wrote several substantive nonfiction works on mankind’s social development, man’s history, and on threats to modern man’s survival as a species.

The three substantive works of his that we read (several years ago) are The Long Road to Humanity (1959), Ten Crises of Civilization (1965), and The Challenge to Man’s Survival (1972).  These works are out of print and are hard to find.  We obtained one through and 2 through Alibris (online seller of rare and hard to find books).

Here are some links for more info about The Long Road to Humanity. – link to some info on the book  – another link to the book and you may be able to borrow the book online here.

This is the link to Alibris’ home page where you can search for any book you may want to locate for purchase.

Our search query brought up several very inexpensive copies of the hardcover book which you can see by clicking this link:*listing*buyused

The book, through nearly five hundred pages, traces with examples man’s inhumanity to his fellow man throughout the past few thousand years.  Oppression, persecution and exploitation are noted.  Coblentz notes that much persecution stemmed from religious fanaticism, but that even in the absence of religious motives, man tends to naturally take advantage of his neighbor(s) when he can get away with doing so.

But, the book is not totally depressing, and may be of value to some interested readers.

The main thrust or theme of the book is that progress – even though slow, at times erratic, and even with frequent backsliding and regressions to cruelty – has been made in mankind’s journey (ascent) from primal inhumanity to being “human”.

Coblentz uses the terms “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” (from gladiator days in the Roman Colosseum) to indicate, respectively, when man showed more kindness and respect to his fellow humans, and when he became more cruel, less sympathetic and more self absorbed.

The key lesson one takes from the book is that “thumbs up” is evolutionary while “thumbs down” is revolutionary in mankind’s experiences.  To get people to become more sensitive and respectful of the rights and needs of others is a slow process (evolutionary); whereas people can harden their hearts and revert to cruelty to their neighbors very rapidly (hence his use of the term revolutionary).  An analogy from the physical world would be it takes a long time and much effort to build a house.  But, with just one strike of lightning (or a hurricane or earthquake), that house can be destroyed in a very short period of time.  Alas, we are in a very flawed and fallen world.

Ten Crises of Civilization, a much shorter work, addressed 10 crises from ancient times to the present (mid 20th century).  This was a worthwhile read.  The book covered the importance and consequences of such events as the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution (Russia), World War II, and the communist victory in China.  Here is a review of this book:

So, if these subject areas are of interest to you, these challenging yet rewarding works might be of benefit to you.

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