The Grand Narrative popularized by historian Will Durant in The Story of Civilization teaches that the idea of freedom and democracy was born in ancient Greece, nurtured by Roman civility, law, and order, and brought to modern fruition by the Anglo-Scottish-French Enlightenment. David Gress challenges the Grand Narrative which reduces history to fit modern liberal sentiments, and instead recognizes as Montesquieu did that the Western concept of “liberty was born in the forests of Germany” (p. 183). The modern West was born in the vestiges of Charlemagne’s empire, spread chiefly at the behest of the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
In this video on C-SPAN, David Gress talked about his sweeping intellectual history, From Plato to NATO, which examine the rise of “the West” as one of the most potent cultural and political forces in human history. After his remarks, Gress proceeded to answer questions from the audience.