Will Durant started out caught up in the socialist ferver of his time and one will find remnants of that in his writing. Yet the breadth of what he wrote trumps any idealogical subtleties and places him firmly in the company of such timeless writers as Wells and Gibbon. Reading Durant I find myself so appreciative of this supremely educated man's breadth of perspective that he matched with a humble lack of presumption (an amazing feat for someone so learned). I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Who wouldn't want to read the conclusions of a man who spent over half a century studying, synthesizing, and writing The Story of Civilization. WONDERFUL!
This is the best modern fiction book I've read in a long time. I suppose one could describe it as sort of an updated Jane Austen, though a bit racier obviously because it’s set in our time. In the book, the main character is on an interesting investigative errand for a friend from the past, so he is traversing back and forth between his memory describing events and characters in the 1960′s and actual goings on in the 2000′s, while giving generous descriptions of how the aristocracy changed in the Post-WWII world, and how sensibilities and norms had changed from the sixties to the present day. Fellowes is an acute observer of history and cultural evolution (or devolution), and he weaves many observations into this story, to the point that it's almost a work of historical fiction. A few excerpts:
“I think there have been times when the majority felt they belonged to a culture that was working, that they had an identity within a worthwhile whole. “I am a Roman Citizen,” “God Bless America,” “The man who is born an Englishman has drawn a winning ticket in the lottery of life.” All that. People have felt their own civilisation was valuable and that they were lucky to belong to it. I’m fairly sure I believed that too, or something like it, forty years ago.”
“Why do modern leaders not grasp that their job is to control antisocial behaviour but not private activity; to regulate our actions as regards others, but not where they only concern ourselves? At times it is hard not to feel that as a culture we are lost, in permanent denial and spinning in the void.”
“For anyone, hearing of the death of a person you had thought alive and well is a little like killing them because suddenly they’re dead in your brain instead of living. But with the Sixties generation it is more than this. They preached the value of youth so loudly and so long that they cannot believe an unkind God has let them grow old. Still less can they accept they too must die. As if their determination to adopt clothes and prejudices more suited to people thirty, forty, fifty years younger than themselves would act as an elixir to keep them forever from the clutches of the Grim Reaper.”
“Even if I am not a fan of change for change’s sake, nor indeed of most change if it comes to that, I am fairly sure that in the end we will all be better off for living in a world where any kind of sexuality is compatible with the twin notions of decency and commitment. But I suppose I just wish the whole subject could drop into the background again where it used to be, and not be compulsorily worn around society’s neck day in, day out.”
“I suppose I was in shock, as they say now, but I don’t think we had “shock” in those days. I think you were just supposed to go for a walk and get on with it.”
I found his writing style smart and witty, but really just lovely. The story is interesting, not only because it’s a bit of a mystery, but because he weaves in historical and cultural observations. And Richard Morant was really the perfect choice for narrator. Very well done!
Whenever I find myself between books, not quite sure what I want to take on next, I'll listen to Past Imperfect again. It's been five times now, and I should expect over the coming years, will probably be five more. It's like an old friend.
Dr. Schlesinger does a masterful job of detailing the exceptional nature of the American experiment, why it has endured, and the adolescent & intellectually dishonest philosophies that are popularly attempting to dismantle it. The philosophies themselves would be laughable had their purveyors not captured tenured chairs at some of our finest universities and been provided uncritical support and promotion by our entertainment and media establishment. I consume 25-30 audiobooks & lecture series a year and have done so for nigh 15 or so years now. This one holds an honored place near the top of that great library and is one I will return to in the fullness of time. Highly recommended.
What a pleasure it is to listen to men who've spent their lives learning and writing our history. They have such an accomplished knowledge and are so articulate and passionate for the periods they study. And Roger Mudd is just a wonderful interviewer. I downloaded this several years ago and have listened to it probably a dozen times or more since. Whenever I need a pick me up, listening to David McCullough's passion for our history will do the trick. He's just a national treasure. Download this title and don't look back... you won't regret it.
The story is enchanting enough, but Mr. Jarvis' reading and voices make it just splendid. This reader is very glad to have listened to rather than read this classic and gives this version an unqualified endorsement. Excellent!
"Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." Milton Friedman
"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."
- Thomas Jefferson
"We are apt to forget that the vast majority of men and women who fell under the totalitarian spell were activated by unselfish motives, ready to accept the role of martyr or executioner, as the cause demanded."
- Arthur Koestler
Equating anything in modern America with the murderous totalitarian regimes (Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Communist USSR) that ravaged the European continent in the 20th century is simply leftist hyperbole. However, likening religious to political totalitarianism has some merit and Mr. Berman does a fair job of it. Leftys, please argue based on ideas....... oh, I forgot, your ideas have been soundly defeated by history itself.
Read this book. Classic liberalism (what might be termed libertarianism today) appeals to the best in us, leftist hyperbole to the worst.
Report Inappropriate Content