Preeminent scholar Barzun brilliantly and succinctly narrates the saga of 500 years of Western cultural history. He came to the United States from France in 1920, becoming professor of history at Columbia University and eventually dean of faculties and provost. To hear these tapes is like attending a fast-paced seminar from a professor with a lively and fertile mind. Chronologically, the topics range from Martin Luther to the Internet and include a mosaic of miniature portraits of artists and intellectuals that give meaning, color, and texture to each era. Barzun never ignores other interpretations and cites alternative sources on every crucial issue; the breadth and depth of his synthesis are breathtaking. The area most open to criticism is the treatment of the so-called "decline" of Western culture mostly things that annoy the 93-year-old Barzun, e.g., moral relativism, hypersexuality, and computer nerds. But his faults give the listener an opening for discussion. A magnificent book, ably read by Edward Lewis. James Dudley, Westhampton Beach, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.