Despite the author's self-imposed intellectual and social isolation, Spengler's work was as Hughes demonstrates, a part of the enormous effort of intellectual reevaluation that has characterized the early twentieth century. Viewing Spengler in the broadest possible perspective, the author places his thought in its cultural relationship to that of such predecessors as Giambattista Vico, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Nikolai Danilevsky and contemporaries including Benedetto Croce, Henri Bergson, and Vilfredo Pareto. A chapter of Hughes's book is devoted to Spengler's influence on later cyclical thinkers such as Arnold Toynbee and Pitirim Sorokin. Another chapter clarifies the essentially antagonistic relationship between his thought and Nazi ideology.
Throughout, Hughes is carefully attuned to the complex and often bewildering shifts of Spengler's ideas and manner, providing a unified picture of the sober historian; the lofty seer; the cool, detached observer; and the impassioned participant. In his introduction to this new edition, Hughes comments on the timeliness of Spengler's message with respect to technology and environmental issues and draws some unexpected and fascinating parallels between Spengler's thought and that of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Oswald Spengler offers an illuminating view of the achievements and limitations of one of the most influential and representative figures of the twentieth century. It will be of concern to intellectual historians, philosophers, political scientists, and sociologists.