The Right Side of History Book Summary - The Right Side of History Book explained in key points
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The Right Side of History summary

Ben Shapiro

How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great

3.9 (186 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro is a reflection on the Western civilization's greatest ideas and achievements, and how a defense of these values can help preserve and improve the future.

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    The Right Side of History
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    True happiness is derived not from pleasure but from moral purpose.

    Are you happy? If not, you certainly aren’t alone. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they’re not confident that life for the next generation will be better than today, according to a 2014 story in the Washington Post.

    Why are we so despondent? Well, perhaps it’s because we’ve lost sight of what happiness truly is. We associate it with pleasure – having sex, playing golf or watching our children grow. But the Bible and the philosophers of Athens tell us that true happiness comes from leading a life of moral purpose.

    In the Hebrew Bible, the word used for happiness is simcha, meaning correct action in line with God’s will. It is commanded to live with simcha, and rejoice in the purpose that God has given humans. As Solomon says, “There is nothing better for a person than to rejoice in his work, because that is his lot.”

    The philosophers of Athens took a similar view. Aristotle, for example, developed a concept of happiness that was also about living a good life. But a good life for Aristotle wasn’t a subjective concept that we can determine for ourselves. For him and his followers, something was good if it fulfilled its purpose. A good watch, to give a modern example, tells the time. And a good human acts in line with reason, because what makes humans unique is our capacity for reason, and our ability to use reason to explore the world.

    So both the Bible and the Athenian philosophers arrived at similar conclusions. True happiness in life comes from moral purpose, whether that is serving God with joy, or following our moral duty as humans to pursue reason.

    This may sound like hard work. Happiness, in this view, isn’t about frolicking at a festival, but instead about living a good, purposeful life. And this more serious approach is the only way to unlock true meaning in life.

    The Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote in his memoir that those who saw no purpose in life were quickly lost. He argued that, in order to survive, those caught up in the terrible events of World War II had to quickly learn that what mattered was not what they expected from life. What mattered, rather, was what life expected of them.

    So now that we understand the correlation between happiness and moral purpose, let’s take a look at what this means in practice.

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    What is The Right Side of History about?

    The Right Side of History (2019) is both a rousing defense of Western civilization and a handy guide to the religious and philosophical thinking that underpins it. It explores the centuries of thought that have helped build and sustain the West, and seeks to understand and dispel more recent threats to that way of thinking.

    The Right Side of History Review

    The Right Side of History (2019) by Ben Shapiro explores the importance of moral values and cultural heritage in shaping society. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With logical reasoning and historical analysis, it offers a thought-provoking examination of societal issues, challenging readers to question prevailing narratives.
    • By addressing topics like identity politics and individualism, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the philosophical foundations behind current social debates.
    • Through its intellectual rigor, the book ensures that readers are engaged and kept intellectually stimulated throughout the reading journey.

    Best quote from The Right Side of History

    Never were stronger foundations set for human happiness than in the founding philosophy.

    —Ben Shapiro
    example alt text

    Who should read The Right Side of History?

    • People interested in the history of philosophy
    • Those searching for a conservative guide to today’s world
    • People skeptical about contemporary left-of-center political thought

    About the Author

    Ben Shapiro is one of the leading conservative commentators in the United States today. His podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show, is the nation’s top conservative podcast. He is a New York Times best-selling author of titles including Primetime Propaganda and The People Vs. Barack Obama.

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    The Right Side of History FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Right Side of History?

    The main message of The Right Side of History challenges conventional wisdom and examines the decline of Western civilization.

    How long does it take to read The Right Side of History?

    The reading time for The Right Side of History varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Right Side of History a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Right Side of History offers a thought-provoking perspective that makes it worth reading for those interested in understanding the direction of society.

    Who is the author of The Right Side of History?

    The author of The Right Side of History is Ben Shapiro.