©2004 John Little, Monica Ariel Mihell, and William James Durant Easton; (P)2004 Durant archival recordings 1957-1977 used with permission of John Little, Monica Ariel Mihell, and William James Durant Easton
I read a lot. But this is one of the most important books I have ever read. I just wish every body would have the opportunity to listen to or read this book. Rarely is there such a distilled understanding of what history has to teach us. Durrant is one of the most intelligent, articulate and deep thinking people of our time (dead now). I now own his 11 volume history of the world. But this book is a gem. A clear thinking, facinating view of the sweep of history from one of the few people who really, really understand the sweep of history. This is a must read for everyone in my humble opinion. You don't even need to be interested in history really. You just have to be interested in humanity, it's state and the great priciples of life. It is almost more of a book of philosphy derived from a study of the history of humanity.
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!
The book, itself, is a swift collection of fascinating ideas. It reminds me of Jacques Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadence" in its ability to draw ideas from the famous events and characters of history. Since it is so quick, one isn't able to follow the roots of the ideas that surface like one might with Barzun. One must take the author's word for a lot of his conclusions. But, the thoughts stimulated from this survey are quite rewarding nonetheless.
The narrator is reliable and appropriate for the tone of the book. The quite enjoyable interviews are more for learning the personality of the Durants rather than amending the ideas in the book, but are still insightful.
Will & Ariel gently and articulately took me in a head lock and pried my eyes open and made me gaze upon my ignorance a new. I feel like I am a college freshman all over again with a mountain of ignorance to plow through. 200 undergrad hours and 20 countries failed to properly illuminate much of the wonder they bare here. Do not deprive yourself of these delicious perspectives on the patterns of religion, morality, trade, economics and the clash of classes through the ages.
This is one of the best books I've read on history. It encompasses the basic actions and motivations of the human race since the start of civilization with philosophical twist. Excellent reading for future leaders and philosophers.
After listening to engaging works from Will Durant like "Story of Philosophy" and "Heroes Of History," it was a treat to listen to the intellectual bring it all together and share his personal views on history. In particular, it was striking to here Durant's attempt to demonstrate how the cycles of history relate to the changing moral fiber within societies.
This book brought me back to the reading of history. I found new interest in this subject from reading Durant.
I enjoyed hearing the authour speak as well as hearing his words read.
The narrator interviews of Will and Arial Durrant are exquisite. Will Durrant's intelligent answers are stunning.
I know the Durants were the kingpins of history during the days of Saturday Evening Post and Readers Digests. There is no denying their incredible knowledge and breadth of not only history but literature is astounding. BUT......their relevance to the current trends of history, the astounding acceleration of information, the major shifting of both economic and political power has left their predictions lacking. This is none of their fault and one should read/listen to the Durants as giants of history with some very applicable truths about civilization and mankind but their understanding of the changes in Asia, the dismantling of Communism, and the relative lessening of the immidiate threat of Nuclear warfare as the overarching concern (as opposed to the emergence of China (military/economic) and India (economic) and the growth of Islam and all its ramifications were clearly not in the crystal ball for the Durants. I hold them blamless in these issues as we would all be. But His understanding and disdain for areas where he is weak such as modern art (meaningless drippings) and modernity is noticeable. I also can't stand his ENDLESS listing of examples to impress us. As previously mentioned the inane music between each interview is enough to wish for deafness.
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