I’ve just finished watching Civilization: a Personal View by Kenneth Clark. It’s a documentary from the late 1960s, and it is a sweeping survey of the history and idea of Western Civilization. And it is quite marvelous.
I was surprised at how much of the content of it was new to me. And while some of the language was a bit old fashioned, it seems like a fundamentally sound approach, and as detailed as a survey could be. It was hailed as a masterpiece in its time, and it’s not hard to see why.
Above all its other virtues, however, is that it is accessible without ever becoming condescending or banal.
So, that goes on my “recommend to everyone” list, along with Barry Hughart’s first two novels, “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman”, the Iliad, Top Gear and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”.