Well, I got the Knopf unabridged because that's what the library had. So I don't know what I would have missed in the abridged. I suppose if the right chapters were kept in, I still would have been quite impressed.
He tried to view world cultures as organisms, each with their own logic, as manifested in all aspects of their life, from their mathematics to their burial of their dead, from their economics to their quintessential art-forms.
He described our Christian European culture as Faustian and contrasts it strongly with the Classical. He thinks the Greeks had an entirely different sense of time than us. He calls our culture "Faustian." The Greeks lived in the present, he says. And everything from their burning of their dead, their mathematics which denied irrational numbers, and their sculpture and architecture supports this. Or this is the case he makes.
He takes an organic view of human history. He considers Goethe to be a great philosophers, and he convinced me of this. He contrasts the science of being and the science of becoming. Physical science is the study of that which is dead. Historical science is the understanding of that which lives. The organic cannot be understood in the way the inorganic is understood.
He thinks that cultures have life-cycles, as inescapable as the life cycles of more traditional organisms.
He writes brilliantly on most the great Western Philosophers. He puts them in the context of the Decline of Western Culture into Civilization.
His tone is the opposite of hysteria. He's cold, proud, sublime. You may not agree with all that he says, but he's great company.