Journey to the West:

Essays in History,

Politics and Culture

This site provides a range of resources including essays, background briefings,  bibliographies, internet resources, and audio-visual listings for those interested in history, politics and cultural formations. It includes material from the 'Journey to the West' project, designed to popularize a deeper knowledge of European history and to encourage a deeper understanding of the foundations of our global system. 

New Materials: -

Asylum: From Temple to Synagogue
Gnosticism: The Wise Sister of Christianity

New Web-Links:

The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook provides a wide range of source materials, organized chronologically and by theme, at

A useful summary of Sumerian life and history can be found in The History of Ancient Sumeria including its cities, kings and religions,by Robert A. Guisepi, with contributions from F. Roy Willis of the University of California.

A number of useful ancient maps can be found via Ancient Atlas, located at

Histos: The Electonic Journal of Ancient Historiography at the University of Durham (for 1997-2000) can be found at

Poetry in Translation has a wide range of translated poetry and source material, including Chinese, French, German, Russian, Latin and Ancient Greek that can be accessed via

On the Rulers of Rome is a useful webpage with extensive biographical and primary data on Roman and Byzantine emperors and history located at

A database of public access photographs, which can be utilized for non-profit purposes, can be found at The Archaeology Image Bankvia (The Image Bank has also asked for image contributions across a range of topics.

Essays and Background Briefings:

Dreams of Europe and Western Civilization: Culture and Frontiers

Kinglists and Archives, Epics and Propaganda: Near Eastern Historiography
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Scribes and Heroes: Divergent Poles of Early Greek Culture (An Overview)

From Hecataeus to Herodotus: The Expansion of the Greek World View
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Socrates and Plato: From Dialogue to Dialectic

Aristotle: The Practical Sciences - Politics and Ethics

Background Briefing: The Polis, The City-State and Urban Life

Fall of the Radical Democarcy : Athens 415-404 B.C.

Fourth Century B.C. Greece - Democracy, Confederations and Temporary Peace

Thucydides and Xenophon: Political Historians of Ancient Greece

Cicero: Theory and Practice Revisited

Stoics and Cynics in the Roman World

Caesar and Pompey: The Civil Wars Rejoined

Octavian and Antony: Images of Rome Verses the ‘East’
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Octavian: Saviour of the Roman Republic?

The Revolution of Augustus: Imperial Government

From the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire: Transition, Slogan and Memory

Roman Amatory and Satirical Literature: From Desire to Decadence

Roman Rhetoric and the Legal System

Roman Power and the Mediterranean World
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Saint Augustine and the Christian Dialogue Against the Pagan Tradition and Popular Mentality

The Division and Fall of the Roman Empire
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Inheritors and Builders : From the Fall of Rome to Charlemagne (An Overview)
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Political Realism, Ideology and Power: - A Discussion and Critique via Machiavelli, Morgenthau and Sun Tzu

Sufism: Islamic Mysticism in its Global Context

Geopolitics of the Silk Road: Beyond Mahan and MacKinder

Culture Briefs: Heitor Villa-Lobos - Brazil's Master of Musical Fusion

Culture Briefs: Manuel de Falla - Spanish Traditionalist and European Impressionist

Featured Websites and other Resources:

Featured Books: Good Reads, Past and Present

ARNOLD, Guy Africa: A Modern History, London, Atlantic Books, 2005 provides a comprehensive and readable account of the history and politics of Africa since World War II, with an emphasis on the period from 1960 down to the 1990s.

BARMÉ, Geremie R. The Forbidden City, London, Profile Books, 2008 provides and excellent and nuanced account of the Forbidden City (and Beijing), making careful use of modern and ancient sources, as well as a sensible analysis of communist and 'western' views of the topic. His 'Day in the Reign' chapter gives insights into the duties and constraints on later Chinese emperors, while his account of the 'Dowager' Empress provides some useful deconstructions of modern myths on the topic.

GOLDSWORTHY, Adrian The Punic Wars, London, Cassell and Co, 2001 is a solid account of the wars between Rome and Carthage, written from the viewpoint of military history but with strong insights into Roman and Mediterranean politics.

ACKROYD, Peter Albion: The Origins of the The English Imagination, London, Chatto & Windus, 2002 provides a fascinating series of insights into the uniqueness of the English sensibility, starting with Celtic and Anglo-Saxon cultures.

ROUNDING, Virginia Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power, London, Hutchinson, 2006 provides a detailed personal biography with some valid historical and political insights into one of the key shapers of modern Russia.

SEESKIN, Keneth Dialogue and Discovery: A Study in Socratic Method, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1987, provides a deep insight into the life, teaching and social setting of Socrates and Plato. 
MANN, Charles C. Ancient Americans: Rewriting the History of the New World, London, Granta Books, 2005 provides a fascinating and fresh account of pre-Colombian America and its interaction with early European contacts, including a revision of the size and status of many indigenous communities.

MOTE, F.W. Imperial China: 900 - 1800,Cambridge MA,  Harvard University Press, 2003 provides a comprehensive history of China during this period, with useful analysis of relations with Central and Inner Asia, and institutional comparisons across the Khitan, Jurchen, Mongol asnd Manchu dynasties, in contrast to Song and Ming institutions. Mote provides a facinating account, plus some critical assessment of bias and gaps in current scholarly analysis.

 Bibliography of Primary and Source Works  

Bibliography: Modern and Secondary Works

Audio, Podcasts and mp3 Resouces 

If you would like to make a submission (article, essay, background briefing, book review) or add a resource,

contact Dr R. James Ferguson at:

Unless otherwise stated, all materials are copyright of R. James Ferguson. Please reference any fair usage.