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12-20-2011, 01:15 AM #1
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- Dec 2011
The Story of Civilization By Will Durant (11 Volume Set)
The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant is an eleven-volume set of books. It was written over a lifetime, and it totals two million words. The series is incomplete: in the first book of the series (Our Oriental Heritage, which covers the history of the East through 1933), Mr. Durant stated that he wanted to include the history of the West through the early 20th century. However, the series ends with The Age of Napoleon since the Durants died before any additional volumes could be completed.
The first six volumes of The Story of Civilization are credited to Will Durant, with Ariel receiving recognition in the acknowledgements. In later volumes, beginning with The Age of Reason Begins, Ariel is credited as a co-author.
A Reviewer :
The Story of Civilization is an excellent history and the most complete result of the ambitious goal of writing a world history. The books are organized in such a way that they can be read as individual works or be read out of sequence with no loss to their meaning. Overall I rate them very highly and would suggest them to the interested non historian and implore the budding historian to read them since it is doubtless they will enjoy them.
Will Durant began his intellectually adventurous life attempting to be a philosopher. He was good at it but he, Like myself, saw the intertwining of history and philosophy. I believe he saw that seeing the greatness of man's record (history) was more valuable and enriching than speculating on what man might be (philosophy). His books exude his philosophical inclinations and are far more enjoyable for optimistic view of man evolving towards greatness through the ages.
Durant paints each historical character has a real human being with the complexities of character we all have. While he doesn't make excuses villains of history he makes sure he humanizes each person mentioned. This is the main constant of the Story of Civilization: Durant sees civilization as a network of real people interacting. His work presents all of recorded history not as chronology and not as a sequence of events but as a progression of people.
The style of the books is conversational and peppered with puns and overall enjoyable to read. He is amazingly concise while still making his points. That being said, he does require that the reader do some work and remember people and events. However, I surmise that it wont require heavy note taking or anything because these books are a fun read.
His style is a good mix of history as literature and history as a science. The mix is necessary for the sake of readability and those of you who have been reading modern histories that seem rely too much on footnotes and data points or provide little at all will find his style refreshing. The historians among you will be pleased the number of footnotes and the well documented bibliography , but I need to say that if you are attempting to use these books for university-level research, use them purely for their bibliography and pull out a few of his well-worded quotes for emphasis.
Overall you should take a chance with this set. Buy a used copy simplybecause it makes an impressive statement on a bookshelf. Even if you don't undertake the task you will have a beautiful set of books and your friends will be impressed by your intellectual prowess. If you do decide to read them, you have made an even wiser decision. While it required 5 years for me to complete the set, I am very happy I have and still to this day go back to them. Buy them read them and enjoy them... you will vastly enrich your life with this set of books.
Each volume is separate. Enjoy selective reading.I. Our Oriental Heritage (1935)
II. The Life of Greece (1939)
III. Caesar and Christ (1944)
IV. The Age of Faith (1950)
V. The Renaissance (1953)
VI. The Reformation (1957)
VII. The Age of Reason Begins (1961)
VIII. The Age of Louis XIV (1963)
IX. The Age of Voltaire (1965)
X. Rousseau and Revolution (1967)
XI. The Age of Napoleon (1975)Code: