A short essay on the cyclical nature of the rise and fall of empires throughout history from ancient times to the present-day.
John Bagot Glubb was born in 1897, his father being a regular officer in the Royal Engineers. At the age of four he left England for Mauritius, where his father was posted for a three-year tour of duty. At the age of ten he was sent to school for a year in Switzerland.
These youthful travels may have opened his mind to the outside world at an early age. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in September 1914, and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in April 1915. He served throughout the first World War in France and Belgium, being wounded three times and awarded the Military Cross.
In 1920 he volunteered for service in Iraq, as a regular officer, but in 1926 resigned his commission and accepted an administrative post under the Iraq Government. In 1930, however, he signed a contract to serve the Transjordan Government (now Jordan). From 1939 to 1956 he commanded the famous Jordan Arab Legion, which was in reality the Jordan Army. Since his retirement he has published seventeen books, chiefly on the Middle East, and has lectured widely in Britain, the United States and Europe.
As numerous points of interest have arisen in the course of this essay, I close with a brief summary, to refresh the reader’s mind.
(a) We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced.
(b) In a surprising manner, 250 years emerges as the average length of national greatness.
(c) This average has not varied for 3,000 years. Does it represent ten generations?
(d) The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:
(e) Decadence is marked by:
(f) Decadence is due to:
(g) The life histories of great states are amazingly similar, and are due to internal factors.
(h) Their falls are diverse, because they are largely the result of external causes.
(i) History should be taught as the history of the human race, though of course with emphasis on the history of the student’s own country.
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