adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B0821SC3ZP
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B0821SC3ZP

Try our newest plan – unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
$7.95 a month after 30 day trial. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.97

Buy for $20.97

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The final and most personal work from Pulitzer Prize - winning author and historian Will Durant - discovered 32 years after his death - is a message of insight for everyone who has sought meaning in life or the council of a wise friend in navigating life's journey.

From 1968 to 1978, Will Durant made four public allusions to the existence of Fallen Leaves. One, in 1975, hinted at its contents: "a not very serious book that answers the questions of what I think about government, life, death, and God." And in 1975: "I propose... to answer all the important questions, simply, fairly, and imperfectly." Even into his 90s,he worked on the book daily, writing it out on legal notepads. Upon his death in 1981, no one, not even the Durant heirs, knew if he had completed it, or even if it still existed. Thirty-two years later, in a granddaughter's attic trunk, the manuscript was discovered.

Fallen Leaves is Will Durant's most personal book. It is precisely as he described: 22 short chapters on everything from youth and old age, religion and morals, to sex, war, politics, and art. The culmination of Durant's 60-plus years spent researching the philosophies, religions, arts, sciences, and civilizations from across the world, Fallen Leaves is the distilled wisdom of a gifted scholar with a renowned talent for rendering the insights of the past accessible. In its preface Durant mentions that over the course of his career, he received letters from "curious readers who have challenged me to speak my mind on the timelessquestions of human life and fate." With Fallen Leaves, he accepted their challenge. It contains strong opinions, elegant prose, and deep insights into the human condition as only Will Durant could provide, as well as his revealing conclusions about the perennial problems and greatest joys we face as a species.

©2014 John Little and the Estate of Will and Ariel Durant (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Fallen Leaves

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    220
  • 4 Stars
    74
  • 3 Stars
    28
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    227
  • 4 Stars
    55
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    194
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful!

Enjoyed this book almost as much as I enjoy the story of civilization series. I disagree with several of his ideas, but listening was joyful anyway. Surprised to find out he knew Emma Goldman, stunned at his conservative sexual views, my only negative remark is that the book isn't longer and more detailed. I recommend the title to every Durant fan out there.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best books from one of America’s greatest thinkers...

Although you rarely see him mentioned anymore Will Durant was one of the greatest minds this country has ever produced. I believe this is his crowning achievement. A must for any lover of history !

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and humorous look at life

Would you consider the audio edition of Fallen Leaves to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print version, but love Grover Gardner's voice and it fits Durant's voice so well, I know I would prefer the auydio version!

What did you like best about this story?

Just down-to-earth observations and wisdom told in a charming and folksy manner

Which scene was your favorite?

Just about all of them

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Each vignette touched me differently. I can't say I was "moved" but perhaps "mood-lightened"

Any additional comments?

Grover Gardner is the perfect Durant, Twain, Faulkner, Steinbeck...Americana voice. I really love simply listening to him....he might actually be able to make the Atlanta phone book charming and slightly witty.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

If only we would live as herein prescribed ...

This is an excellent book. Mr. Durant lived during a time little different than any other. Having also written extensively about the history of civilisation in another series of books, he was very well positioned to tell how life has been and should be lived. His writing will cause you to be reminded of mistakes you and others have made but hey, the world turns and will for a very long time. This is a very good listen/read. The world would be a better place if a majority of it's inhabitants could learn from it(this book).

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Some good spots, but -

Will Durant expresses his ideas with poetry in his prose, and some of his observations, especially about death, are very comforting. But his ideas about the differences, and relationships, between men and women are so outdated they would seem quaint, if they weren’t so insulting. Ideas like “men operate with intellect, women with instinct. Women don’t need intellect because their purpose is to bear and raise the next generation.” Enough of that, and there is a lot more of that, takes the punch out of the rest of the message.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

incredibly verbose

Good prose can be enjoyable. At many places this is just verbose without saying much. I've seen tweets containing more insights than some chapters here.

Durant's views on politics are often naive.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Answering everything, simply, fairly & imperfectly

If you could sum up Fallen Leaves in three words, what would they be?

Enlightened, cathartic, elegant

What did you like best about this story?

Classic Will Durant. You don't have to agree with him to truly respect his views on life and society. He's wonderfully self-aware and balanced in his approach. Nothing too groundbreaking, especially if you're familiar with The Story of Philosophy, but it’s great to hear the summation of the lessons he’s learned in life. I’ll certainly come back and listen again.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Old Man’s Book

One of the high points of the book is Durant’s modern sounding discussion of the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the book is not greatly interesting or useful.

I really liked Durant’s Story of Civilization and most of his other history based books, but this is not history, it is the musing about life of a old (80’s), liberal (sometimes communist), academic man born in 1885. This book was not at all bad and had many interesting and strong points, but many of the ideas were dated. For example; Females and males should be educated separately, and the females should only be taught by other females who have already had children (after obtaining government approval to have children). He had quaint opinions about sex, parental authority, and marriage. He did not quite understand, and had serious doubts about, the results of modern science. Such opinions, of course, are expected from an old man.

The manuscript for this book was only recently discovered (long after his death) and it seems Will Durant did not authorize the release of this version of this book before his death (although he had the opportunity to do so). I suspect Ariel Durant would have argued against the publication of this book (or edited it drastically). In an interview regarding the earlier book “The Lessons of History” Ariel reminded us to “Remember that these are the opinions of an aged man” and “a philosopher should remind himself, now and then, that he is a particle pontificating on infinite”. She was great! I suspect there was a very good reason it took decades before this manuscript was found; that it was not intended to be found.

I do not regret having read this book, nor do I condemn its publication, for, as always, I learned from Durant. In this case I learned from example what age does to even the wisest of men.

I imagine only those who are longtime readers and lovers of Durant will fully understand and appreciate this book.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

This is a historical artifact , not a history book

With all due respect to Dr. Durant as a historian. His personal rambling in this book is someone over intoxicated with their sense of sight. He makes broad statements about his visual observations and projects them on the state of humanity. This is evidence for a future historian of the culture of Dr. Durant's observable community. This is not the work of a historian - researched , fact based, and involving the testimony of witnesses to his statement of events. He is the only witness.
The first few chapters make you marvel on how every man over 35 in 1968 didn't kill themselves, from the lack of hope for passion and happiness even after he had his inevitable affair which his wife would never find about and further demotivate the man for the lack of drama. Sheesh! Glad there wasn't a bridge handy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great piece of philosophy

This was my first exposure to Will Durant, and while I didn't agree with every little thing presented, I loved this book, and thought it contained many prolific insights. I will likely look further into his works.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-29-21

Want to learn why history is important?

This book is as insightful now as when it was written. The perspective gained from a life of history and philosophy is enviable, Durant crackles with wisdom on every line.

As promised Durant puts his own opinions forward unapologetically for once, it’s a refreshing departure from his previous works. 10/10.