Some books develop a reputation which continues to exist even when the book itself – in the old days – has gone out of print. Spengler’s The Decline of the West was unquestionably one of these, though it continued to appear in abridged versions. Then print on demand and digital downloads gave it another lease of life – and now at last it is appearing on audiobook!

The work was such a momentous re-thinking of the growth and decline of world civilisations when it first appeared (Volume 1 in 1918, Volume 2 in 1922, Complete 1923) that it became an immediate hit. Then, over the years, it gradually went out of fashion though a long list of intellectuals in many disciplines have acknowledged its influence on their work and thought, including Joseph Campbell, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Camille Paglia. It certainly covers an extremely wide spectrum across philosophy, politics, economics, religion, sociology and history; and, bearing in mind the turmoil of recent years, and the changes and shifts of power in geopolitics over the past decades, it is not difficult to remark on the relevance today of Spengler’s vision. This is backed up by the prodigious amount of reading that went into the development of his views…making it a totally absorbing and fascinating read whatever one’s ultimate assessment of his conclusion.

And there is no doubt that this is an extraordinarily tough challenge for the reader. With massive works such as The Anatomy of Melancholy to his credit, it was clear that Peter Wickham was the man for the job…and he has, I contend, risen magnificently to the task!

Another great influence on the 20th century, especially the first half, and in France, was the philosopher Henri Bergson. Matter and Memory, which will shortly be available on Audible, is arguably his most important work after Time and Free Will. Originally, it bore the subtitle ‘An Essay on the Relationship of Body to Spirit’ and as this suggests Bergson set out to refute the prevailing ‘mechanistic’ view of the way the brain and consciousness work. It is absorbing, and has enjoyed a revival of interest in recent decades. Michael Lunts once again presents Bergson with clarity.

Best regards