The Cultures of the West focuses on the ways in which the major ideas and passions of Western culture developed, internally, and how they interacted with the broader world - for good and for ill. Key among these ideas and passions are religion, science, and philosophy, all of whose developmentform the central narrative of this book. The Cultures of the West stands apart from other textbooks in a variety of ways, the first being thematic unity. What did people think and believe, throughout our history, about human nature, the right way to live, God, the best forms of government, or the meaning of human life? Rather thanmaintaining a single interpretive stance, the author relies upon a consistent (or at least a persistent) set of questions: What did people think and feel throughout the centuries about politics, science, religion, and sex? How did they come to their positions regarding the right way to live?Clifford Backman's many years of experience in the classroom have informed his approach: students respond to engaging questions more than they are inspired by facts.The Cultures of the West also differs in its geographic catchment area: since Western Civilization begins in Mesopotamia, there is no reason to exclude the Near East from our history. Islam is, after all, just as much a Western religion as Judaism and Christianity are; it is in fact one of theproducts of Western Civilization. Hence, The Cultures of the West book incorporates the history of Jewish Palestine, the medieval Islamic world, the Ottoman state, and the modern Middle East into the main narrative.