In these modern times of cynicism, worn as a garb of superiority, it has become intellectually fashionable, a pose of small minds, to negate greatness, revealing that our heroes are not heroes at all, but mere historical constructs with feet of clay. Unfortunately, this is a pathological symptom of democracy, where mediocrity must be exalted at all costs, to maintain the notion of equality. Men and women must be viewed as equal under the eyes of the law and society, for this is justice. But we are not equal in health, wealth, intelligence and talent. What Will Durant has shown us unashamedly is "...that at the beginning and summit of every age some heroic genius stands, the voice and index of his time...the guide and pioneer into the future." (10)
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.