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The Complete Story of Civilization

(The Story of Civilization #1-11)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,443 ratings  ·  146 reviews
The Complete Story of Civilization by Will Durant represents the most comprehensive attempt in our times to embrace the vast panorama of man’s history and culture. This eleven volume set includes:
Volume One: Our Oriental Heritage;
Volume Two: The Life of Greece;
Volume Three: Caesar and Christ;
Volume Four: The Age of Faith;
Volume Five: The Renaissance;
Volume Six: The
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Kindle Edition, 13971 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1975)
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Carl Because of the way the copyright laws are written in the US, these volumes will continue to covered by copyright for another 65 years.…moreBecause of the way the copyright laws are written in the US, these volumes will continue to covered by copyright for another 65 years. (less)
Michael Kerrigan India & China are recognized, especially in Vol I, for their many contributions but it is pretty much the story of western civilization.

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Karen
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read all 11 volumes of this series when I was housebound with 3 kids (2 of whom were infants). These books saved my sanity and kept my brain from turning to mush.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set), Will Durant
The Story of Civilization, by husband and wife Will and Ariel Durant, is an eleven-volume set.
I. Our Oriental Heritage (1935), II. The Life of Greece (1939), III. Caesar and Christ (1944), IV. The Age of Faith (1950), V. The Renaissance (1953), VI. The Reformation (1957), VII. The Age of Reason Begins (1961), VIII. The Age of Louis XIV (1963), IX. The Age of Voltaire (1965), X. Rousseau and Revolution (1967), XI. The Age of Napoleon (1975).
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Erik Graff
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone & everyone
Recommended to Erik by: an advertisement in the Nation or some other magazine
Shelves: history
Will and Ariel Durant, like Abelard and Heloise, were teacher and student, were punished and went on to write together. Unlike their mediaeval prototypes, however, they wed and appear to have been rather happy. They certainly were productive.

Will started the series, the two of them carried it through to "the age of Napolean". Together, they travelled a great deal, visiting many of the places they wrote about in this magisterial eleven volume (twelve if you count a companion volume on
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Timothy Finnegan
If I had a choice of just 11 books to take into isolation for the rest of my reading days I would take The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. Durant began his life as a seminarian. He became a teacher and starting writing, becoming a very successful author penning The Story of Philosophy. (Yes!) At some point he immersed himself in the history of the world, namely, the history of the European west and the study of western civilization. Imagine that, spending your adult life learning ...more
Darwin8u
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in 2019. Basically, one volume a month. Often, my reading would bleed a bit into the next month, especially with the longer volumes. Here's my review (or soon will be) of each edition:

1. Our Oriental Heritage - 1/16/2019 - highlights in HC.
2. The Life of Greece - 2/27/2019 - highlights in HC.
3. Caesar and Christ - 3/30/2019* - 191 highlights
4. Age of Faith - 4/30/2019* - 687 highlights
5. The Renaissance - 6/02/2019 - 196 highlights
6. The Reformation - 7/22/2019* - 356 highlights
7.
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Greg
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shortly after I retired in 2004, I began reading this incredible historical journey written as a life-long project by the wonderful couple of Will and Ariel Durant. (It is the kind of reading that probably can only be done in retirement, as the total pages exceeds 11,000!)

But it was an adventure well worth it. Like Page Smith, the Durants are primary historians, meaning that they have read an amazing number of works ranging from economics, to politics, to culture, to theology, and so on. AND
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Marie Palmer
I will be reading a hundred pages per month of this series for almost ten years. I will review it more thoroughly in the year 2020. So far, I feel like I am finally getting history to some extent, and all I have read is half of the first book. So far he has covered Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and Jerusalem. Now we are hitting India. I love it, really.
Eric
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
d- EVERYONE should read this series sometime in their lifetime -- of course it'll likely take you most of a lifetime to actually read the whole thing (it's like 12 volumes of 1,500 pages each). i have it on audio and i've listened up until volume 8 or 9 i think. (I need to get back to it.) it took will durant almost 30 years to write it, and i think the final volume was published back in the 30's. but it is amazing. it was written way back in the first half of the 20th century (although i think ...more
Khalid Almoghrabi
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
THE most brilliant book on earth, by far. Durant is a philosopher who can collectively bring parts into a whole and in a short sentence teaches you a lifetime. Highly recommended
Dan Scott
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I begin? These books were the foundation of my intellectual journey. Durant was my greatest teacher.
David
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people have this 11-volume set in their homes. It stands there on the shelf, prominently displayed, as evidence of the great erudition of the owner. My set is not particularly attractive on the shelf -- I bought the volumes from a used book store, and they look used. I might add that this is not the sort of book I normally read -- most of my readings are in the area of modern science, philosophy and some in religion.

Yet quite literally I have read every word of every volume of this set. I
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Tlaloc
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Stupendous and wide-reaching, this was a labour of love that spanned decades. Hard to imagine today's writers pulling this off. The good news is that it's wonderfully written and enchanting to read. The better news? It's plentiful enough to be found cheap second-hand if you take the time to look for it.
David Glad
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civilization, history
Every time I think of this collection, I am delightfully jealous at how the Durants could devote 45+ years to writing such an incredible undertaking.

Although I found Volume I (Our Oriental Heritage) and II (The Life of Greece)somewhat distant as might be expected, they did start to engage more as time passed. Could also be that Durant too improved over time. My personal favorite was naturally The Age of Voltaire where it talked about market speculations, economic bubbles, and topics that would
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James Foley
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any history lover
Recommended to James by: Life magazine, Barned & Noble
Shelves: history
This is more than just a book, it enriches your life permanently. It also leaves you with a nice generally useful set of history books. This uniquely complete volume tells you all that most of us will ever need to know about Western Civilization and history until the fall of Napoleon. It's clearly written(Thank God!),reasonably broad, bluntly and openly opinionated in many areas. It includes a very useful sketch of the progress of the west and detailed and interesting sketches of some of the ...more
Anthony Barbieri
A page turner. A must read if you want to understand civilization and how it evolved. Times have not changed.
Yazeed T.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Durant is an excellent historian, and although much of what the books contained is now defunct, the majority is written very comprehensively, steering clear of controversy and unknowns in a manner of detached and objective scholarship (at least for the time period). The authors embark on every civilization/time-period, first discussing the geographical, economic, socio-political and religious backgrounds and then start a narrative of events in chronological order. The choice of what qualifies as ...more
Jeff Joseph
this is an endless all you can eat buffet of intellectual delights of the highest order. I can open any book anywhere on my phone (I have all volumes on audible and hardcovers) and be fed the most entrancing, facinating, often jaw dropping, emotionaly touching, intellectually stimulating writing of such a reach and depth-nothing compares. The writting is 5 star- unique, personal, and highly readable narration. This is like history crack cocaine, It will wow you to exhaustion.This is Not exactly ...more
J.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though written in the early and middle of the 20th century, and thus somewhat dated on matters whose understanding has since been heavily revised by archaeological, paleontological, genetic, and documentary discoveries, this set remains the definitive baseline history of civilization.

At 11 volumes, each totalling in the neighborhood of a thousand pages, it's an intimidating read, but Durant's style is thorough and personable, telling the grand story in detail while communicating methodology
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Abbey
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
sloooooowly working my way thru audios, now avail via Overdrive and Hoopla!! not all avail on each but between them ought to *eventually* have access. Enjoy using history or philo, especially older, as pre-sleep treat, find it soothing, relaxing.

Volume I: OUR ORIENTAL HERITAGE
My Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Volume II: THE LIFE OF GREECE
[will post link to review of individual book here... " "]

currently beginning Volume III: CAESAR AND CHRIST.
(05/2017)
Glen Weissenberger
I am outraged that when I went to pull this magnificent, one-of-a-kind 11 volume set of books up in the search bar, the author was listed as Will Durant, when the entirety of this opus was written by both Will Durant and his wife Ariel Durant!

"The Story of Civilization," written over thirty years (1935-1975) and composing 11 volumes, chronicles, truly, our entire course of human civilization, for which they were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1968 and the Presidential
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Dave
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read some of each volume and a great deal of The life of Greece, Caesar and Christ, The Renaissance, and The Reformation. Back in those days I had it in mind to become well-educated, but life got in the way. I remember those readings fondly; they still have pride of place on my living room book shelves. Very well written.
Franz
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even at 11 volumes, it is an overview of Western civilizaton. A reletivly easy read. given the complexity of the subject. The set takes a change of tone at volume VII. (Mr Durant has died and his wife finised the set from his notes.) The material is still quite excellent but she doesn't have the same confidence with it that he did.
Cynthia
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actually, I haven't read the entire 11 volume set, but have read (on and off) most of the volume about the History of France under the reign of the Sun King, "Louis XIV" (Volume IV). I am listening on Audible as the time I have to sit still everyday was just used up by writing this brief comment!

The narration is excellent (a must for me!) and I find the in-depth history fascinating! I have read so many books, both biographies and historical fiction, about so many eras, and I always find certain
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Jon Jacobs
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Will and Ariel Durant's Civilization series is some of the most important reading I've ever done. It's a long project for anyone who isn't an insanely fast reader but it's well worth it.

Will Durant was very good at pointing out examples of historical wisdom. He sort of takes you by the hand and points out what is important, interesting, and amusing as he leads you through the history of, mostly, Western Civilization. At one point in one of the books he says that if one wants to understand the
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Karen
Jun 26, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 5 books that inspired billionaire CEO Elizabeth Holmes

From 1935 to 1975, author Will Durant wrote 11 volumes on Western history, finishing with the Napoleonic era only because he and his wife died weeks apart. His wife, Ariel, is a coauthor of several of the final volumes, and they both won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for the 10th in the series, "Rousseau and Revolution."

"I've really been fascinated and inspired by reading books about history, because there's so much wisdom in
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Bill Olsen
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have finished vol. 4, (Age of Faith -about the medieval times from the fall of Rome to the beginning of the enlightenment). A great book about the "dark ages" in which you find out that they are not as dark as many thought. The philosophers, the faith, the conflicts of that time. There is a very enlightening section of the Muslim world and their history of that time. I learned a lot especially about the crusades and about the misguided cruelty of many who called themselves "Christians" and ...more
Jonny Andres
Finishing this eleven volume set in less than a month has been quite the undertaking. In addition to these I had to mingle in about 6 other books to keep my sanity and not get burned out.

The Durant's depiction of civilization from the beginning to the end of the reign of Napoleon was simply amazing. With such a wide array of history to deal with, they managed to not only give us a broad outlook on this the histories if a great many eras while throwing in an understanding of the philosophies,
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Steve Bennett
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE this set of books. I'm not sure all the facts are correct and some of hte info may now be dated but this set of books started my love for reading, for hisotry, and for the idealism of mankind. So htat is pretty good. I came across these books during the summer after freshman year of high school when I visited my older brother for a week. Read The Age of Napolean first and then took off from there. I am forever indebted to these books.
Carlton
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with blood flowing in their veins...
Synthesis, synthesis, synthesis! This 11 volume opus is how you write about history! History isn't just a collection of dates - it is the living, breathing life of people. People who lived and loved and fought and fucked, not knowing that people in the future would stand upon their all too human shoulders.

If only he could have lived another 5 years, he could have done The Story of Civilization volume 12: The Americas...
Paul
Aug 24, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am currently in the fourth volume but very close to Vol five, fully intending to read all 12. I know-- in one sentence I have successfully portrayed myself to anyone reading this that I am a full-blown history nutjob. You will never read or maybe want to read a more comprehensive telling of history. The scholarship is amazing. The writing is in a statoshperic league. Each volume is between 500-1200 pages. It is truly an epoch. It is my bible of history.
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1,750 followers
William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, written in collaboration with his wife Ariel and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for his book, The Story of Philosophy, written in 1926, which was considered "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy."

They were
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Other books in the series

The Story of Civilization (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Our Oriental Heritage (The Story of Civilization, #1)
  • The Life of Greece (The Story of Civilization, #2)
  • Caesar and Christ (Story of Civilization, #3)
  • The Age of Faith (The Story of Civilization, #4)
  • The Renaissance (The Story of Civilization, #5)
  • The Reformation (The Story of Civilization #6)
  • The Age of Reason Begins (The Story of Civilization, #7)
  • The Age of Louis XIV (The Story of Civilization, #8)
  • The Age of Voltaire (The Story of Civilization, #9)
  • Rousseau and Revolution (The Story of Civilization, #10)
“In the end, nothing is lost. Every event, for good or evil, has effects forever.” 28 likes
“History is mostly guessing, the rest is prejudice.” 17 likes
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