I was disappointed in this book. While the Durants gave a broad overview of what they thought were the lessons of history, I found most of their insights fairly superficial. There was a horrible whinning music between each chapter which I found extremely irritating. It was also hard to understand Will Durant when he spoke and it was even more difficult to understand Ariel Durant, especially when she was interrupting her husband.
The chapters themselves were fairly good and gave some good, broad historical perspectives, which made the book somewhat wothwhile,
Will Durant had become a pedantic curmudgeon by the time this was recorded. He defends the indefensible innumerable times. However, his spunky wife Ariel was a delight, often contradicting him and arguing forcefully. Unfortunately, Will was obviously an unreconstructed sexist and often rode roughshod over her more nuanced view of world history. As a whole, I find their analysis as portrayed in the text to be painfully obvious and pedestrian. There were no great surprises here, and the usual suspects were selected for the meting out of praise or blame. Not the most educational tome.
I expected much more from this book that I got. I read their Story of Philosphy many years ago and I am till in awe of those books. It is useful to look at Lessons of History in its historical context. It was published in 1968. The country was divided about the war in Vietnam. We had a hot war with communists in Asia and a cold war with communists in Europe. The youth culture was ascending. College students were protesting. Organized religions were under attack and were not considered relevant. The civil rights movement was in full swing and had scored victories. Popular culture we eclipsing high culture. I think this book is more about that time than about history in general. It is an attempt to put that time in the context of history. This is not entirely explicit in the text. You have to read between the lines. You see these themes discussed in the book: youthful rebellion, morality, war, racisim, economics, art. It seems that at some points their analysis hits the mark but in other cases it seems to reflect a personal prejudice. Particularly annoying is the dismissal of the modern art scene as a sign cultural decline. Their discussion of accumulation of wealth seems to smack of Social Darwinism but has some cogent warnings about the disparity between rich and poor. And I really did not agree with their point of view on morality and religion. Finally at the end their proposals to fix our problems seemed rather naive. I think the main flaw in this book is its grand scale. It tried to summarize in too small a space the huge span of history. However, given that, I would recommend giving it a listen. It provides much food for thought but take it all with a grain of salt.
The entire book is about memorable moments. The Roman and medieval times, the story of Ignatius Loyola were particularly interesting to me.
Mr. Gardner's narrations enhances the story with his timbre and entonation.
There is a lot to absorb in Durants' philosophy.
If you ever wonder why America seems to be in decline, this book will explain well!
It has happened time and time before. WE JUST think, we are a different time.
I believe Social Media will expedite our decline, as the takers, will over-run the makers of our economy!
Well it's obvious Will Durant was held in check at times by his wife Ariel
At first being it was written 40 years ago, I didn't think it would be relevant.
BUT it is very relevant! As I soon discovered, the decline and decay of societies is years in the making.
The end may seemingly consummate in a few years. But was 50 years in the making! Just like we are seeing in America!
It will take my several more listening a before I can get my head around the contents of this book. On the first listening I was impressed by many simple truths that take far more to comprehend than it takes to follow the words that make up the argument. History as philosophy is an intriguing thought.
Mr Glover is a good narrator and is easy to listen to and doesn't seem to over embellish the material. Between each chapter there are interviews with the authors. This helps to "put a face" on the arguments.
Odd that Will Durant defends religion, even though he admits (paraphrasing here) that it is made up to give poor people hope. The book itself is spliced together with an extended interview with the authors. I found myself wishing the interviewer asked harder questions. But, it wasn't a debate. The book tends to repeat themes. It feels like an essay extended to book form. However, I am glad I heard it.
Straight forward conclusions and enough citations from other historians to understand the truth of it. Its a hard line, but no reason to disbelieve how the circle completes itself. While they suggest that changes can be made, they make it clear that they believe it is unlikely. History people will like this. Its fairly easy to understand how mankind continues to repeat the past.
I found it very interesting to hear the Durants' assessment of the events in history and learn the connections and conclusions that had been drawn by such outstanding students of history. It helped to put a variety of historical elements in perspective.
This book is interesting only from the perspective that it was written a while back and we can see that almost without fail every prediction of future trends based on the authors academic studies was completely and utterly wrong. This book stands as a testament to the the bias ingrained in academia, the utter failure of leftist intellectuals to understand the world or interpret reality.