From the earliest records of human civilization until the dawn of the twentieth century, and in widely separated cultures throughout the world, the story of honor was inseparable from the story of mankind. Today, an acquaintance with the concept of honor is indispensable to understanding the culture of the Islamic world and its sense of grievance against the West, where honor has been disregarded or actively despised for three-quarters of a century.
James Bowman draws from an astonishing wealth of sources across many centuries to illuminate honor's curious history in our own culture, and he discovers that Western honor was always different from that found elsewhere. Its idiosyncratic qualities derived partly from the classical tradition, but mainly from the Judeo-Christian heritage, whose emphases on individual morality and, more recently, on sincerity and authenticity in private an personal life have acted as continual challenges to the traditional notion of honor as it is still maintained in other parts of the world. These challenges to honor and the accommodations with it that they ultimately produced are a fundamental theme in our own culture's distinctive history; and the eventual collapse of the honor culture in the West is the background against which the War on Terror and the Clash of Civilizations ought to be seen.