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The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination
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The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination (Knowledge Trilogy #2)

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,949 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
By piecing the lives of selected individuals into a grand mosaic, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin explores the development of artistic innovation over 3,000 years. A hugely ambitious chronicle of the arts that Boorstin delivers with the scope that made his Discoverers a national bestseller.
Paperback, 832 pages
Published September 28th 1993 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Aug 23, 2008 Laurel marked it as to-read
I won this book as a prize in my History of Psychology class in college. We had to come to class dressed as one of the psychological figures we'd learned about that semester. Most came as Freud or Erikson, with a few Skinners thrown in. I came as Phinneus Gage, a mild-mannered railroad worker from Vermont who got stabbed in the head with a tamping iron and lived, but became such an asshole no one wanted to be around him anymore, thus giving researchers insight into the goings on of the temporal ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Boorstin gives an encyclopedic old school western civ telling of culture in mostly Europe and America with forays into east Asia. This kind of history is very old fashioned even when it was written in the 1980s but it is the tradition I am most familiar. Reading this sweeping story of western arts and culture is as comfortable and friendly to my sensibilities as well broken in old shoes that slip on easily. I can dip into Boorstin's style of the grand western tradition like looking up a friend w ...more
Sep 14, 2016 Sharla rated it really liked it
This is not a book most people would sit down and read cover to cover. I've been reading it in bits since November of 2015. I have to admit there were a few sections that did not interest me so much that I skimmed over quickly. This book is a tremendous achievement with a broad scope and well worth the effort of reading even if it takes some time.
Todd Stockslager
Feb 06, 2016 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Review title: Present at the creation

3 books, 12 parts, 70 chapters: Boorstin has written an encyclopedia of the imagination. Starting with a background in the creative forces harnesed or inhibited by the major world religious traditions: Hindu, Confucian, Jewish, Christian, Islam, Boorstin then begins his journey through the creative arts starting with the most material: architecture and sculpture. The first creative arena involving words is drama, which he traces from its Greek roots in repres
Jan 13, 2015 Ivana rated it it was amazing
Citanje ove knjige, obogatice vas osim znanjem i svescu da i vi mozete biti pojedinac koji ulepsava ovaj svet licnim postignucima i zeljama da oplemeni covecanstvo. Svako ima svoju sansu da stvori jos lepsi svet za sebe i druge.
Sa njenih stranica provejava duh pojedinaca koji su istinski verovali u ono sto stvaraju, koji su utkali delove sebe u beskajne niti covecanstva. Njihove licne spoznaje, postale su deo znanja svih nas. Hvala im na tome.
Apr 21, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
One can only conclude from reading this book that Daniel Boorstin was a genius. The book contains an amazing survey of world history. It's a behemoth of a book and I can no longer believe I read the whole thing, which means I need to reread it.
Aug 12, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
It wasn't long enough - seriously.
Jul 28, 2014 Ericb rated it really liked it
A great history of the arts, too place along Boorstin's other great historical book (The Discoverers).
Cynthia Karl
Oct 30, 2012 Cynthia Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A mighty tome to be read and savored. It is packed full of information and beautifully written.
Ron Dorn
mccall bool
Jan 23, 2014 Sean rated it it was amazing
"The Creators" is a masterpiece. The book is a collection of 70 different biographical essays, each of which focuses on a particular author, artist, composer, architect or sculptor. Some of the earlier chapters focus on some aspect of man's desire or ability to create, rather than on one individual. The book as a whole is structured chronologically only in a rough sense, grouping the chapters to match the development of man's ability to create. Given that each chapter focuses on a single histori ...more
Jan 29, 2017 Dora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is what I deem the ideal combination of useful and fun facts. It is interdisciplinary and, what I perhaps love most about it, non-linear. By "non-linear" I mean that, even though each chapter has a specific theme, Boorstin does not stick too closely to that theme. He enriches the text with interesting pieces of information that complement the main theme and make the chapter more dynamic. These "recesses" give the reader additional perspectives, background information or just fun facts ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Kåre rated it liked it
Shelves: historie, skimmet
Kan godt lide ideen, som jeg opfatter den. Der er tale om en temmelig positivistik tilgang, hvor der overordnet skelnes temmelig hårdt mellem "realiteter" og fantasier. I denne bog beskrives fantasierne. Herunder hører religion, kultur. Fokus ligger på den store litteratur, men man kunne let udvide med populærkultur.
Glæder mig til at se, hvad der kommer ud af det. Har en fornemmelse af, at der ikke rigtigt kommer noget andet ud end beskrivelser af en masse fantasier og de materiale forhold, som
Boorstin's book is a gem for reading about inspirational lives. As he did in The Discoverers he ranges throughout history focusing on lives of individual geniuses. In this case the imaginative heroes who contributed to our civilization through spiritual, artistic, music, literary imagination and more. The breadth of the book is literally breathtaking and it is valuable as a bedside read or a reference work. I personally find inspiration in books like this for further study of artists with whom I ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: people
Amazon review:
Historian Daniel J. Boorstin brings his customary depth and range to this compelling book on Western art, taking on everything from European megaliths (Stonehenge, for example) to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography ("the first American addition to world literature"). Boorstin does not aim at being comprehensive--he much prefers to linger over certain "heroes of the imagination" as he surveys human accomplishment in the fields of architecture, music, painting, sculpting, and writing-
Mar 28, 2014 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Literally the history of human creation from Egypt to the post-modern period. The scope, detail and depth of Boorstin's work combined with its readability make this a must read for any student of history. No matter how much you think you know about art, drama, music and literature I guarantee you will learn more for having read this extraordinary book. Even the figures I thought I knew well (Dickens, Dante, Eliot, Beethoven) were revealed in much more detail here. It's a huge book, and you will ...more
Debra Sanderson
Jun 29, 2015 Debra Sanderson rated it really liked it
Fascinating but dense examination of the act of creation in the context of culture and civilization. The book is organized in chapters so I was able to read a section at a time. The writing is clear, compelling, and the research is impeccable. Putting the story of "Don Quixote" in the context of the times and adding a brief biography of Cervantes was the high point for me. I love "Don Quixote" anyway, and to read more about the author and his times added a great deal to my enjoyment of the novel ...more
Dec 31, 2016 Parker rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book took forever to read, sitting by my bedside for years, where I picked it up to read a couple of paragraphs before becoming sleepy. I am not sure if I started it in 1999 or not, but I do have an appointment card from that date in the book that I used as a bookmark. I think Boorstin is very knowledgeable and taught me a lot, but I cannot say that he was fully engaging or enthralling. I hope that the connections and information stick with me. In the end, it was just a goal to finish it th ...more
Sundin Richards
Oct 26, 2011 Sundin Richards rated it really liked it
As a general polygraph for popular readership, this is a well written and reasoned work. It's scholarly without the easy alienation that term generally implies. It's a great Survey Course in Western artistic impetus and thinking. This is where Boorstin runs into trouble. There are those that complain that his attention is Westernocentric. So what? Western Culture is it's thing, just as Eastern, and an artist that distinguishes is a poor one. Stop taking sides.
Aug 30, 2007 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book when I was a teenager, and I really enjoyed revisiting it. It gives the reader an overview of arts in the Western world, including dance, drama, literature, architecture, and the visual arts, and some of the big players in each. The chapters are self-contained, so despite its length, it was a great subway read. And as I read, I felt like I was stepping out of my routine ways of thinking and stretching a bit. This book takes some time, but it was time well spent.
May 23, 2011 Suby rated it really liked it
The author traces the history of human creativity starting with India , China and Japan and then proceeds to architecture of Egypt, Rome, France and Italy through to 20th century American skyscrapers. In a similar fashion he treats the topics of music, literature, theatre, sculpture and painting. He goes on to photography and movies and gives a comprehensive account of how the process got democratised and all pervasive. A very fascinating history indeed.
Michael Finocchiaro
Sep 01, 2016 Michael Finocchiaro rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I don't usually like surveys of history, but Boorstin still does a good job of describing hundreds of artists, scientists and dreamers that formed the western conscience. It is a long book but as each chapter is just a handful of pages, it is not difficult to read. You could read this as a sort of introduction and then choose various people and then go off and research biographies of them independently as I did. In any case, it is readable and interesting.
Apryl Anderson
Jul 27, 2011 Apryl Anderson rated it liked it
Very, very good... and very, very long. I was seeking clues to the creator's soul. Unfortunately, it's not to be found here, BUT with so many vignettes about so, so, so many creators, I now have an extensive reading list to pursue.

Through much of this book, I've caught myself pondering what moved Boorstin to compile and create such a work? Subdued passion, certainly.
David Hollywood
Jan 07, 2015 David Hollywood rated it really liked it
A wonderful history of those who left us their imagination. Whether it is art, music, philosopher or literature it is all here and crosses the ages, places and people wherever and whenever it took place. A book you can pick up for its snippets and/or its depth because it en-captures the depths of what makes us knowledgeable about what intrigues and pleases us.
Holly Lindquist
Jun 06, 2013 Holly Lindquist rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, history, doorstops
A very ambitious yet fascinating exploration of art history. Boorstin doesn't stop at the visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, etc); he also covers literature, music, and dance. Although I wished for illustrations in a few places where specific artworks were discussed, the sheer deluge of wonderfully meticulous story-telling made up for it.
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it liked it
After reading Boorstin's previous book, The Discoverers, I had great expectations for this...sequel. But the fire dimmed and the profiles, I thought, seemed less in luster, so I wish I could rave more about it, but I cannot. Still, I found it beneficial and worth the effort. So even this is a tepid response, I still encourage you to read it.
Paul Byrne
Jul 19, 2014 Paul Byrne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
A near comprhensive history of the creative minds of our culture. I found Boorsin's structure of following on strain to its later iterations to be very interesting and helped understand the causality of each innovation. I thought the chapters on architecture would be boring but found them to be as exciting as the peices on music etc...
Truly a magnificent book.
Feb 16, 2010 Lizzie rated it really liked it
Ok, so far, what I have learned from reading this book is make certain you get the illustrated version. Otherwise you will do what I did and run down your phone battery googling everything.
I can't believe my library has an edition without illustrations.
It is a book about great art for heaven's sake!!
Nicole Marble
Aug 02, 2009 Nicole Marble rated it it was amazing
This lengthy book examines those who 'create' - dance, music, writing, painting, sculpting, architecture and those who think deep thoughts, and how those crafts have changed over time.It is a splendid book, and the very best part is the very beginning - his careful explanation of the worlds larger religions. I have never read anything clearer and more helpful.
Jun 20, 2014 Jon rated it it was ok
Only took me a decade to read, which says a lot right there. Because of the scale it's very superficial; I felt there were maybe some interesting points in there, if 1) I were familiar with all of the works and all of the artists/authors discussed and 2) there had been enough space for real analysis.
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Daniel Joseph Boorstin was a historian, professor, attorney, and writer. He was appointed twelfth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1975 until 1987.

He graduated from Tulsa's Central High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of 15. He graduated with highest honors from Harvard, studied at Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and earned his PhD at Yale University. He was a lawyer
More about Daniel J. Boorstin...

Other Books in the Series

Knowledge Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself
  • The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World

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“Like Hamlet, Goethe's Faust offers a wide panorama of scenes from the vulgar to the sublime, with passages of wondrous poetry that can be sensed even through the veil of translation. And it also preserves the iridescence of its modern theme. From it Oswald Spengler christened our Western culture 'Faustian,' and others too have found it an unexcelled metaphor for the infinitely aspiring always dissatisfied modern self.

Goethe himself was wary of simple explanations. When his friends accused him of incompetence in metaphysics, he replied. 'I, being an artist, regard this as of little moment. Indeed, I prefer that the principle from which and through which I work should be hidden from me.”
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