The Lessons of History Paperback – Feb 16 2010
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From Library Journal
This series of 13 essays on the themes and underlying lessons of history was originally written as part of the authors' 11-volume The Story of Civilization (1935-75). The Durants begin by summarizing periods and trends in history. They examine morals and draw conclusions by looking into changes in economics, politics, military customs, and even geographic location. Russ Holcomb reads these essays in a clear, pleasant voice, bringing life and interest to this brief overview of 5000 years of history. For general collections.
Miriam Kahn, Columbus, Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
"The Durants' masterpiece belongs in any home library and occupies a shelf in many."
--Dana D. Kelley, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Within this delightful book, one can view the enormous panorama of human civilization as it developed from, and was formed by, the matrices of geography, religion, science, war, and a host of other factors. The Durant's, in a writing style that should have been copyrighted, provide the reader with an engaging view of humanity that few readers will come away from without being touched and awed. To be sure, the Durant's works have had a few (very few) detractors, but they were almost entirely high-browed academics in narrow research areas who most likely envied them their commercial success. If I could give this synopsis of 100 centuries of history more than 5 stars I'd do it in a nanosecond.
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.
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".
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.
Most recent customer reviews
One of the best books ever on summarizing historical events in general.
Great as a starting point to find areas of interest in history.
Clear, informative and courageous attempt to summarize volumes of history in 110 pages.Published 7 months ago by History Reader
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. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dr. Egypt