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The Lessons of History
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on August 7, 2015
This book is well-written but one has to realize that it dates back to 1966. The philosophy behind it is interesting but I have had some misgivings about what it stated on examples taken from the history of France, for instance. What is fun is to realize where Will and Ariel Durant were right and where they were wrong in their projections.
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on May 30, 2015
livre neuf arrivé à temps
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2015
This short volume was in one of my Amazon recommendations and I purchased it because, hey, who doesn't like summation-history with life lessons clearly laid out. Boy was I wrong. The authors deal with topics in such brevity and such a one-sided view that I have heard more compelling discussions in a university pub with drunken undergrads.

If you want a "lessons from history" subject - go for J. Rufus Fear's audiobooks from TTC (Greek Lives, Roman Lives) as he sums up Plutarch's Histories against the backdrop that ancient lives can teach us something about our moral character. It was way more rewarding to get through that series than this volume.
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on March 2, 2015
It's a relatively short volume. I found some interesting generalizations and ideas in it. One peculiar feature of this book, is that being written awhile ago, it was not as constrained by demands of political correctness. At the same time, it does not leave an impression of rigorous scientific work. It's certainly good for non-specialists, and requires very little prior historical knowledge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2014
Superb book
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
After hearing Benjamin Netanyahu recommend the book on a Larry King interview I purchased it. Disappointing is an understatement. While there are a couple of interesting observations the majority of the book feels dated and it contained only a few insights worth considering as useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Will and Ariel Durant have taken 3500 years of history, and withdrawn some of civilizations greatest lessons. How they kept this book to one hundred pages, is quite the accomplishment.

The Durant team make it very clear, that the same issues that bedeviled previous generations, are the exact same set of current contentions. This is what makes the book a great read. The reader is introduced to timeless themes, that every society will sooner or later confront.

The book is written is a straight forward and easy to read format. The Durant duo provide an outstanding introduction, to the events of world history. I give this book my highest endorsement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2004
This is the first book that I discuss in my national security lecture on the literature relevant to strategy & force structure. It is a once-in-a-lifetime gem of a book that sums up their much larger ten volume collection which itself is brilliant but time consuming. This is the "executive briefing."
Geography matters. Inequality is natural. Famine, pestilence, and war are Nature's way of balancing the population.
Birth control (or not) has *strategic* implications (e.g. see Catholic strategy versus US and Russian neglect of its replenishment among the higher social and economic classes).
History is color-blind. Morality is strength. Worth saying again: morality is strength.
See my various lists. This book, John Lewis Gaddis on "The Landscape of History", and Stewart Brand "The Clock of the Long Now" are among my "top ten of all time".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2002
Will and Ariel Durant wrote a massive eleven-volume history, The Story of Civilization. After they finished volume ten -- which was to be the last - they came out with this brief work. (In 1975 they produced the final volume in the series, The Age of Napoleon). Although this series is not considered by professional historians to be a great work of history, the Durants' love of history is evident on every page. I read most of them in high school and college, and they help inspire a life-long interest history.
The Lessons of History consists of a number of short chapters, in which the Durants summarize what their study of history revealed on various themes, such as war, morals, government, religion, etc. Although certainly not a profound work, it contains a number of insights. For example, the discussion of the lineage of communism is quite interesting. On the other hand, the Durants strike me as having been moderately left of center, and some of their arguments in favor of government regulation of the economy don't convince me. They appear somewhat more conservative on morals, and there is a good discussion on how war negatively impacts traditional morality. The discussion of religion is somewhat ambiguous, perhaps reflecting Will Durant, who studied for the priesthood, became an atheist, and died an agnostic.
This work came out in 1968, and the Durants make a couple of predictions which didn't exactly come true. They argue that by 2000 the Roman Catholic Church will be politically dominant in the US. In addition, they expressed the commonplace idea in the 60s that the Soviet Union and the United States were coming closer together and would eventually meet in the middle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2002
For the person in a hurry, but who is also curious about history, I would recommend this book. It is the culmination of a survey of history that Will and Ariel Durrant did in the 1960's. I realize that some of the conclusions have been dated, such as concern about the Soviet Union, but that does not destroy the value of the work. Indeed, who is to say that the Soviet Union, or some neo-Tsarist regime, could not rise again?
Moreover, this book covers other topics, all of them revolving around the "Human Predicament," which is basically a choice between freedom and security. Or better yet, actual freedom, and claimed security, since if you chose security over freedom, you will lose both freedom and security.
This book is an easy read, written on the high-school level, so there are no excuses for not understanding anything. It is an essential in anyone's collection of "Great Books," since not only is the unexamined life not worth living, the unexamined civilization is not worth preserving. And we can make a change in things.
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