Greatest Minds and Ideas Of All Time Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
This engaging, accessible book of essays from Pulitzer Prize-winning philosopher and historian Durant, author of the authoritative 11-volume Story of Civilization, should be essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of thought. Little, the founder and director of The Will Durant Foundation, includes in his slim compendium such works as "The One Hundred 'Best' Books For an Education" and "Twelve Vital Dates in World History." Durant's "The Ten 'Greatest' Thinkers" details minds as enlightening as Confucius and as influential as Darwin, whom Durant says "reduced man to an animal fighting for his transient mastery of the globe." "The Ten 'Greatest' Poets," charts a course from Homer's brilliance to Dante's haunted heart to Whitman's "frank and lusty" originality, in prose peppered with biographical bon mots and excerpts of the world's loveliest poems. Lay folks especially will find this a delightful introduction to Durant's irrepressible style. What else would one expect from Durant, an intellect who, when asked, "Whom in all of history would you most like to have known?" drolly replied, "Madame de Pompadour."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
By the time of his death in 1981, it was fashionable for many scholars to deride the works of Will Durant; his faith in human progress and emphasis upon the great achievements of individuals seemed outmoded in circles that stressed pessimism about the fate of humanity and lauded the power of mass movements. So it is refreshing to again encounter historical writing that brims with optimism and pays just tribute to individual minds and ideas that have shaped history and advanced both moral and material progress. Editor Little is a lecturer on philosophy, a documentary filmmaker, and director of the Will Durant Foundation. His compilation of Durant's essays is divided into sections on the greatest thinkers, poets, books, and landmarks of human progress. Even Durant acknowledges that his efforts to rate "top tens" borders on the frivolous, but there is nothing frivolous about Durant's elegant prose and cogent insight into the lives and minds of men as diverse as Confucius, Voltaire, and Darwin. This compact work is a gem that elevates historical writing to the level of superb literature. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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OF THE MANY IDEALS which in youth gave life a meaning and radiance missing from the chilly perspectives of middle age, one at least has remained with me as bright and satisfying as ever before-the shameless worship of heroes. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews
This necessary little book presents six essays on the greatest thoughts, minds and books of all time. The reader may disagree occasiionally with his choices, though Durant compellingly argues his choices from his informed view as a recognized historian, philosopher and teacher.
The text is a snap shot of history; an opportunity to see the past and its great historical figures through the eyes of a man who made it his life mission to celebrate what it means to be human. Durant's humanism and enthusiasm is highly infectious - one comes away from his texts with a renewed hope that civilization was once great and can be great again. We have been submerged into the pessimistic, fragmented and distilled perspectives of Modernism far too long. Durant's optimism slices like Excaliber through our fashionable cynicism about the world; he is the intellectual white knight, celebrating the miracle of existence and the endless potential of humanity.
At the moment the world is filled with uncertainty and pessimism, therefore this text is highly recommended, for it might cast a glimmer of hope, and a renewed optimism about the world, the future and us.
I was wrong. Okay, from time to time it provides some interesting insights. But it is full of "insights" that are obvious (Plato was one of the greatest philosophers), and odd (Whistler's paintings are faddish), with lots of fluff in between (long paragraphs about why people might object to Aquinas being called one of the world's greatest philosophers, with very little time left to explain what Aquinas' contribution was).
Skip it unless someone gives you a copy for free.
Will Durant, in partnership with his wife Ariel, spent his lifetime celebrating our highest and best achievements as a people. His essays on the greatest thinkers, greatest poets, best books, peaks of human progress and vital dates in world history should not only serve as a compact education, it should also fill you with a sense that for all of humanity's folly and waste, we have actually accomplished much that is worthwhile these past few thousand years. It's also very likely this book will spark within you a desire to know and to learn more about our rich heritage.
My only wish for this book is that compiler John Little had included the dates these works were originally written. The chapter on the best books for an education, for example, while including many timeless classics, also includes some volumes which have been surpassed by later works--including the Durant's own magisterial lifework, the "Story of Civilization." But this a minor quibble over what is on the whole an exceptional work.
Who did Will Durant think were the 10 greatest thinkers of all time? Or the 10 greatest poets? Or the most significant dates and developments in world history? It's all here. Also included is a list of the 100 books a person should read to become educated and free. While the list is somewhat dated, it is still full of valuable suggestions. Because of it, I am soon reading Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and some of the plays of Euripides, for example.
If you're a Durant fan, definitely buy this book and set it on the shelf alongside that other great work of concise wisdom, "The Lessons of History." And kudos to editor John Little for bringing us this fine volume. I'm already looking forward to the next one!
Most recent customer reviews
Decent survey of outstanding people, books, historical events, etc. However, there is very little describing each of the items that made into the top 10 lists. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Leonid Finis
After having read Durant's 'The story of Philosophy' I was hooked. This author had made the main ideas that had troubled philosophers accessible to the non-Philosopher; to the... Read morePublished on May 29 2004 by MrSherlockHolmes
this book, a collection of short essays, sums up the life of a historian who would love to be a poet. What other book includes the ten greatest thinkers and the ten greatest poets? Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2004 by Amazon Customer
This title is misleading. There are moments of wit strewn throughout but getting to them is like slogging through glue. A few funny lines exist but the humor is lifeless. Read morePublished on July 15 2003 by sigel
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