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Douglas Wilson's 5 Cities is an idiosyncratic and somewhat necessarily episodic romp through Western history with a particular focus on the goings-on in Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London and finally New York. What ties these metropolises together in this telling is not just that they were each, at successive times, centers of the Western World but that in their roles as such they contributed to development of the idea of liberty:
Painting with a broad brush, Jerusalem represents the soul set free. Athens established the ideal of free inquiry. Rome passed on to us liberty of movement, liberty under law. London was the place where the literary imagination was set free. And New York, with its commercial success, has shown us freedom to trade, and the subsequent freedom from want.
In effect, Mr. Wilson offers a road map that ultimately arrives at the End of History, with protestantism, democracy, and capitalism.

The book is quite brief, which makes for breezy--and interesting enough--but shallow reading. If you enjoy it, we'd recommend a more substantial text from 50 years ago, Barbara Ward's Faith and Freedom: A Study of Western Society.


Grade: (C+)


See also:

Douglas Wilson Links:

    -FACULTY PAGE: Douglas J. Wilson, M.A., Trustee and Senior Fellow of Theology (New Saint Andrews College)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Douglas Wilson
    -AUTHOR BLOG: Blog & Mablog (Douglas Wilson)
    -BOOK SITE: Five Cities that Ruled the World: How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York Shaped Global History by Douglas Wilson (Thomas Nelson)
    -GOOGLE BOOK: 5 Cities that Ruled the World
    -FILM INFO: Collision: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson (IMDB)
    -ESSAY: Now showing: Apocalypse Why? (Douglas Wilson, 2/02/10, washington Post)
    -PROFILE: The Controversialist: Between his prolific writing, prominence in classical Christian education, and recent foray into public apologetics, Doug Wilson is becoming a mainstream evangelical. Maybe. (Molly Worthen, 4/17/2009, Christianity Today)
    -PROFILE: Onward Christian Scholars (MOLLY WORTHEN, 9/30/07, NY Times Magazine)
    -PROFILE: Faith No More: What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. (Christopher Hitchens, Oct. 26, 2009, Slate)
    -PROFILE: The Late Unpleasantness in Idaho: Southern Slavery and the Culture Wars (William L. Ramsey , 12/20/04, HNN)
    -DISCUSSION: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson: Patrol editors speak with columnist Christopher Hitchens and pastor Douglas Wilson. (David Sessions, Alisa Harris & Matthias Clock Oct 30, 2008, Patrol)
    -INTERVIEW: with Douglas Wilson (Christian Book)
    -DISCUSSION: "Is Christianity Good for the World?" (Debate between Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, 5/10/2007, Christianity Today)
    -REVIEW: of Five Cities that Ruled the World: How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York Shaped Global History by Douglas Wilson (Brian Welter, Catholic Herald)
    -REVIEW: of 5 Cities (Albert McIlhenny, Christian Book Reviews)

Book-related and General Links: