Review of Goldman’s ‘How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)’

How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)How Civilizations Die: by David Goldman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A provocative but fascinating book. The author explains how civilizations die–not because of environmental disaster or wars, but because they lose the will to continue living. This is demonstrated in their lack of a willingness to produce a future generation, which is to say, demographics. His evidence of demographic decline in Japan and countries throughout Europe appears very strong.

The author thinks the USA and Israel are two societies that will resist the trend towards self-elimination. Some readers will find this optimism to be misplaced, as recent figures show that the economic downturn in the USA has led to below-replacement TFR. Also, the fastest growing section of population in Israel is Orthodox Jews, many of whom do not work, pay taxes, or serve in the military.

Goldman argues that this is also the case in many Islamic countries, and points to the low TFR (total fertility rate) in countries like Iran and Turkey. His convincingly argues that leaders there are aware of this problem.

Civilizations die because they can no longer produce answers and sustain an identity. Goldman sees this happening both in Islam’s encounter with modernity, as well as the failed nationalism of various European states.

Of particular interest to me were his historical sections on the depopulation of the Roman and Greek regions, and his proposal for Augustinian realism in reference to foreign policy.

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Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I live in Madrid now where I teach and minister. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. I am associate professor at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Madrid (UEBE) and priest at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, Spain. Visit my blog ( or page for more information.

2 thoughts on “Review of Goldman’s ‘How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)’”

  1. Hi Duane, Just following the thread to request a PDF download of the book How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too. Many thanks.

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