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The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,889 ratings  ·  186 reviews
A wise and witty compendium of the greatest thoughts, greatest minds, and greatest books of all time -- listed in accessible and succinct form -- by one of the world's greatest scholars.
From the "Hundred Best Books" to the "Ten Greatest Thinkers" to the "Ten Greatest Poets," here is a concise collection of the world's most significant knowledge. For the better part of a
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 7th 2002 by Simon Schuster (first published October 29th 1996)
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Roy Lotz
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I am, apparently, slowly but surely paying Durant the compliment of reading his entire oeuvre. And it is quite a compliment, considering how massive a collection of writings he left behind. Thankfully, this little volume, a posthumously published collection, was very slim. Much can be forgiven of a book if it can be read in a day.

In my last review of a book by Durant, I noted his unfortunate penchant for superlatives; and the very title of this work (though I don’t think he chose it) illustrat
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
In college it was Durant’s “The Story of Philosophy” that got me into reading more philosophy. Ever since, I’ve been trying to get his now-rare eleven-volume “The Story of Civilization,” which took him 50 years to write. Due to his encyclopedic mind, Durant has been asked by many people who he considers the greatest thinkers, the greatest poets, the peaks in human progress and history, and the one hundred best books for a man’s education. In this short book, editor John Little compiles the essay ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant, was really a great read for me. I liked the organization of books; however, the sections dealing with 100 Best Books to read for an Education, Ten peaks of human progress and 12 vital dates of world history I liked the most. Just reading the last two chapters - 10 peaks and 12 dates - takes you quickly on a time travel Jim no time at all. If you haven't read history before, you must read these two chapters first before you touch any histor ...more
"Let me have seven hours a week and I will make a scholar and a philosopher out of you."
~Will Durant

The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time is the culmination of the 50 years of scholarship and research Will Durant invested to write the 11-volume The Story of Civilization. Following publication of these volumes, he wrote a series of essays and gave speeches culling the most significant people and events in history. These essays and speeches are gathered together in this book.

One of the most str
Sep 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Life is better than literature, friendship is sweeter than philosophy, and children reach into our hearts with profounder music than comes from any symphony, but even so these living delights offer no derogation to the modest and secondary pleasures of our books.
When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and homes, we shall come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe, and laugh at the world of Rabelais, and see its autumn loveli
John Conquest
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Excuse the blog post.

I liked the way the 100 books to read was presented. Sort of like 'if you spend 1 hour a night reading from this, you can finish the list in a few years and you will be "well-read." While you get no $100,000 check from the Big Brain Association or certificate of completion at the end, you will have an above-solid grasp of history, philosophy, themes/writing styles, etc..'

Which made me think of a recent thread on r/books (i'm a sadomasochist) that I believe was a reply to tha
M Jahangir kz
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A small book in length, but in the book there is a complete road map to become the enlightened one. Will Durant is well known for putting the most difficult of the the ideas in the most profoundest and simple way.

This book is based on 6 essays, which are written in the most eloquent and lucid form.

The first chapter is names as Shameless worship of heroes, here Durant invites us to appreciate all the great things that the world has yet seen whether they be in any form, ideas, inventions, minds,
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
First, the idea that anyone can attempt to support a thesis such as this in less than 150 pages is laughable. Second, the author more than once, when faced with a staggering array of "greats" to whittle down to the ones that he thinks are the best of the best, cops out by encouraging the reader to "make his own lists," which rather defeats the purpose of reading the book, I'd say. Third, there are several totally subjective and sweeping philosophical/theological/sociological statements which rai ...more
Ubaid Talpur
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an easy-to-understand book, This is a very short and useful book,this book tells About 10 Greatest philosophers & 10 Greatest Poets of history, book cites the top 100 books on education of Philosophy, book describes the ten most advanced events in human development, as well as the 12 most important events in history that changed the world.
Winston Elliott III
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
From The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant:

"If I were rich I would have many books, and I would pamper myself with bindings bright to the eye and soft to the touch, in paper generously opaque, and type such as men designed when printing was very young.

I would dress my gods in leather and gold, and burn candles of worship before them at night, and string their names like beads on a rosary. I would have my library spacious and dark and cool, safe from alien sights and sounds, wit
Doug Wells
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Will Durant was an amazing historian. He and his wife Ariel wrote The Story of Civilization series. As well, he wrote a list of the top 100 books any historian should read (although there are many to be added since he died). This is a great, concise compilation...
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: internet
How happy to find this in youtube! brilliant.
Michael Magy
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it


"The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Times"


Will Durant

Will Durant books featured prominently in my parents' library. His opus series, 'The Story of Civilization', beginning with volume one 'Our Oriental Heritage (1935) and ending with 'The Age of Napoleon' (1975) - co-written with his wife Ariel -were among my mother's favorites. Also in the library was his 'The Story of Philosophy.' I was at that time not inclined toward
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Will Durant’s list of the greatest thinkers, greatest poets, greatest books, and most important historical dates condenses decades of careful study into relatively few pages. I imagine him sitting down and writing this all without reference to a single source other than his mind. As fascinating as this short book is, it also serves double duty of being an excellent reservoir of recommendations for future reading. 4.5/5
Ali Wurm
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Solid. However, nowadays I’d rather read a quick article covering the most influential ideas and people throughout the history and within the article have a “for more info on this point, read ....”

It was good to have Asian influences included. Even though it was brief they’re often left out altogether in historical overviews.
For its brevity, I think this served it purpose well.
Raphael Amar
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Durant's way of describing historical events in an almost poetic style is at first enthralling and amusing, but after a while it just gets outright nauseating. ...more
Ghulam Fareed Wattoo
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book
Achi Arjevanidze
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Contains more than needed, nice for research.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
He left out Mark Twain. Of the hundreds of names of great writers and thinkers mentioned in this book, nowhere is Mark Twain's name to be found. Unforgivable. ...more
Pradyuman Singh Rajput
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Complicated History From the Greatest Poets, Books and Dates
Cliff Ward
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Will Durant. Marvelous! Will and his wife dedicated forty solid years to touring the globe and writing the 'The Story of Civilization' which details 2500 years of history and philosophy. Fortunately we can listen to any volume of this creation on select topics from the Babylonian, Etruscan, Persian or Egyptian Empires right along to the life of Aristotle, Voltaire or Jesus Christ. Just search YouTube 'Rocky C'. I highly recommend listening to any of these when you are performing any boring task ...more
Reagan Schrock
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic little read. Completely worth every minute and it will certainly broaden your worldview. Also, I found Durant’s writing style to be beautifully delightful.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Contains a few articles Durant wrote, thrown together in a book. It contains his reasons for including items on the lists but it doesn't have much discussion of ideas or concepts themselves. ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this first because it's Will Durant's shortest - before considering diving into his full 11-vol History of Civilization set. This felt very much like a descriptive outline without depth. That said, it was extremely well curated. A good intro to this author.

Capturing the key lists outlined in this book:

deleted d
Sep 07, 2014 rated it liked it
The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant

The short 130 page book was a very different read than what I'm used to. Will Durant writes poetically and talks about a lot of history and great people who changed it.
I felt like I was in history class again, but it was more interesting. Still I skipped some parts (at least I didn't ditch the entire thing like in high school lol).

I recommend the book if you're interested in a very short overview of important figures and events over history
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
More people like Will Durrant are needed in our world. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Pulitzer Prize, he and his wife Ariel co-wrote the Declaration of Interdependence:

"ROOTED in freedom, bonded in the fellowship of danger, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty." -Will Durrant-

-The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time -
Although outdated, this short book, is a summary of what Will D
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an interesting little book by the author of an 11 volume " History of Civilization " so he knows whereof he speaks. He won the Pulitzer Prize and the Medal of Freedom and he is quite a brilliant philosopher. The book contains chapters that include: 10 greatest thinkers; 10 greatest poets; and 100 "best books for an education".

It's quite intimidating really to see what Durant considers you should be reading compared to what you'd like to read and/or are likely to read. If only I could in
John Turner
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, audio
There just is not enough time in life to do all the study and read everything you desire. Will Durant has assembled a remarkable list of the Greatest Minds and the Greatest Ideas in the history of mankind. Great minds like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato to Lincoln, Thoreau and Darwin. The book includes lists of:

1. The One Hundred Best Books for an Education,
2. The Ten Greatest Thinkers,
3. The Ten Greatest Poets,
4. The Ten Peaks of Human Progress and
5. Twelve Vital Dates of Human History.

There is
Ahmed Assem
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Composed of a set of articles, this small book can be considered to be a peak inside Will Durant's mind. With his amaing style Durant offers us his selection of the greatest poets of all time, The greatest ideas of all time, The greatest thinkers of all time, The best one hundred books, and the most vital dates till his time. This small book can definitely be a gateway to Durant's gigantic masterpiece: The story of civilization. ...more
Jennifer O'Leary
One Man's Opioion

These are the brain pickings of a powerful intellect beyond its prime. Durant brings a strong euro-centric world view to his choices. His declared criteria are defined in barely-accessible academic jargon.

I was especially disappointed in the treatment of the Buddha, who is dismissed as a religious figure in one section and lauded as perhaps the most influential thinker of all time in another.
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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 awarde

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