Arnold Toynbee's analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations has been acknowledged as one of the great achievements of twentieth-century scholarship. D.C. Somervell's abridgement of this monumental work is a great achievement in its own right. While reducing the work to one sixth of its original size, he has succeeded in preserving its method and character. The first volume of the abridgement presents Toynbee's philosophy of history as it appears in the first six volumes of the original work. This volume includes the Introduction; The Geneses of Civilizations; The Growth of Civilizations; The Breakdowns of Civilizations; and The Disintegrations of Civilizations. The second volume comprises volumes 7-10 of the original, including Universal States; Universal Churches; Heroic Ages; Contacts Between Civilizations in Space; Contacts Between Civilizations in Time; Law and Freedom in History; The Prospects of the Western Civilization; and Conclusion.
The late Arnold Toynbee was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and Research Professor of International History at the University of London and author of numerous other books, including Mankind and Mother Earth: A Narrative History of the World. The late D.C. Somervell was a teacher at Tonbridge School in England.