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Rousseau and Revolution

(The Story of Civilization #10)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  639 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The Story of Civilization, with its tenth volume, Rousseau and Revolution. Around the towering and perplexing personality of Rousseau who set spinning the whirlpool of ideology, both Left and Right, the authors recreate in vivid narrative style the growth of eighteenth century intellectual, moral and political dissent, the summit and decline of autocratic rule, religious d ...more
Hardcover, 1092 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Fine Communications,US (first published 1967)
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4.21  · 
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 ·  639 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Roy Lotz
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finally we come to the Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of the series. Even compared to the other excellent volumes of The Story, this one is notable for the range of brilliant actors who march across its stage. In art we have Canaletto, Tiepolo, Houdon, Goya; in music Scarlatti, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart (and Rousseau); in literature Schiller, Goethe, Sterne (and Rousseau); in biography Casanova, Boswell, Johnson (and Rousseau); in economics Smith; in history Gibbon; in political theory Burke (and Rous ...more
Josh Friedlander
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-history
"Always scribble, scribble, scribble, eh Mr Durant?" Another one of these fat books - the last one, ostensibly, before the couple came out of retirement for one final, eleventh gig (wasn't that a movie plot?) Overall I love the Durants: their calm view of history, seeing the extremes of each age in context as just swings of the pendulum really helps me find sang-froid in the current political climate (and in life). Their respect for and interest in almost everything makes them wonderful guides. ...more
Antonio Nunez
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This 10th volume of the Durant's magnificent History of Civilization is the most enjoyable so far. The device of framing the history of the XVIII century with the twin avatars Voltaire (vol. 9) and Rousseau (vol. 10) worked perfectly, even better than in previous volumes about Louis XIV and Caesar and Christ. This volume is full of ideas, art and literature. The sections on Mozart, Sterne and Beaumarchais were all heartwarming and heartbreaking. So many talented, yet so few happy people. The sto ...more
James Violand
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own
This review applies to all Durant's History of Civilization. The author does not follow a strictly chronological approach, but emphasizes those events/personages that have developed our Western civilization. He tends to emphasize certain personalities - some of whom I take exception to - but he stresses those things which make Western man unique. The arts have a prominent place in developing our culture and Durant convinces the reader how important they are.
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rousseau! The American Revolution! The philosophes! Samuel Johnson! The French Revolution! Edmund Burke! Yeah!!
Buddy Don
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I've now finished reading the first ten volumes of this eleven-volume set, which remains wonderful and deserving of a more complete review than I will write here. Once I finish the final volume, The Age of Napoleon, I'll write a longer review of the entire set. I will restate what I said after reading one of the earlier volumes, to wit that this is one of the greatest reading experiences of my life. I'll read a few books to flesh out some of the more interesting topics from this volume (as I've ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ah! Finally finished the last book of Durant's "History of Civilization" series. A veritable marathon of reading well researched, well thought out, and well written history. He (and in the later volumes, his wife also) do a wonderful job of taking all the different strands of the history they are writing about and tying them together within an understandable context. I feel like this was a major achievement, kind of like completing a master's level class. Very well worth the hundreds of hours I ...more
Steve R
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not a bad entry in the series, but nowhere near as good as its preceding works. Perhaps the closer the Durants got to contemporary times, the less distinct their vision was of what truly distinguished that partivcular period of history. The sole unifying theme would appear to be the confrontation of Rousseau's emphasis on feeling and sentiment in contradistinction to the rational reliance on reason of the philosophes in general and of Voltaire in particular. But this is less of an interpretation ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 10th of the 11-book grand oeuvre of Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, a monumental accomplishment forty years in the making, that continually amazes by its comprehensive scope and depth of detail.

It is the view of the authors that "history is philosophy teaching by example," as Thucydides reportedly said, and that all aspects of the described cultures must be included in a putatively thorough historical work... art, philosophy, social mores, trade, science as well as
Blake Brownrigg
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will and Ariel Durant give us here both the end of an era, a king, an old feudal world and the end of their over 40 year journey of writing synthetic history (though they would live past their predictions and live to write one more volume). Volume X won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1968, and it is tough to decide whether it was the writing and dedication of its authors, or the age itself, bursting its seems with genius (Goethe, Mozart, Kant, Rousseau, Voltaire, Franklin), villai ...more
Duy Đoàn
May 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
This series by the Durants is the supposedly acclaimed one, just because it is the individual work, if we could take Mr. Durant and his wife as the single one. Some people say the series brings forth a usefully condensed history of many civilizations, peppered here and there with amusing events and remarks, which is so suitable for general readers and helps them to read history with fun and joy. There are a few amusing events indeed, but the style of story-telling here is more anecdotal not diff ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
It took me months to read this book at a chapter a day. Easy to read as it was conceived for the general reader. But at over 900 pages long, it takes a commitment.
I must confess that I have the entire "Civilization" series in my library.I have always used the 11 volumes as reference books reading sections prompted by other reading. But after reading Rousseau's "Confessions" I felt that I wanted more period depth and determined to read the entire book.
I started to resist the author's continued i
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This volume was so much more refreshing than the last two or three but even then it seemed to go on forever. I think I liked this one more because it covered people who I read and knew before but I didn't know their history. For example Edward Gibbon's the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire had a medical problem where his testes would collect four liters of water in them! This with wearing tight britches in which Gibbon's thought flattered him! have to dig a lot to fi ...more
Revanth Ukkalam
Aah! The Story of Civilisation is a real time machine. Is Durant a historian, philosopher or an artist? He is obsessed with imagery, isn't he? In this volume we sit in the parlers of Paris or some remote place (for the banished) - eat, drink, and debate with the chic philosophes of the day (and of course scorn them with Rousseau); listen to music and maybe compose some with the enlightened despots from St. Petersburg to Lisbon (if you get lucky in Austria or Italy you can catch up on some Mozart ...more
"...little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever."

Edmund Burke, on the execution of Marie-Antoinette

In the tenth volume
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I find this book fascinating, but it is sooooooooo huge, it daunts me, and I have put it to the side because I own it(I found it on the side of the street, and now it is MINE!) Right now, I can borrow two books, at at time from the big, big bookstore that I work for, so I am saving Rousseau for a later time.
This is a good survey of that time period and the artistic, cultural and political faultlines that led to the Revolution. The Durants' style is a bit breezy for my taste - they are writing about the foundations of the Enlightenment with the tone I'd use for a story about my car - but for me this was a good primer.
Don Stanton
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
A must read if you are going to spend any significant time in France. For the effort, your understanding of what you will see and hear will be ‘enlightened.’
Not an easy read, but well worth the effort if want to have a complete sense of history and understanding when you go. I suggest you begin 3 to 4 months prior to departure.
David Glad
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civilization, history
Another excellent book by Will Durant. Although his The Age of Voltaire (previous) is so far my favorite in the series and the one I would be most eager to recommend (economic bubbles, enlightenment, etc), this book is certainly good too. Another who's who and how many of the historic figures lived along with the modernity of moving royalty to the sole position of figureheads.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This amazing series of books needs no explanation or review. They are extraordinary--comprehensive, readable and even humorous. I have just read the last sections of this book, which deal with the early part of the French revolution, just to be informed on the facts because I am presently reading a novel on that event.
Erik Graff
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Westerners
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Like many of the volumes of the Durants' Story of Civilization, this one is strongest on political philosophies and ideologies--reflective of Will Durant's strong background in philosophy, of which he was an accomplished popularist.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keeko I loved reading this book. Roger Ebert said if he could have lived in any other time, he would have picked the 18th century, and now, thanks to the Durants, I understand that. This one won a Pulitzer, and it is well-deserved.
Nancy Laney
Sep 01, 2013 added it
Shelves: history
The Story of Civilization, Book 10
George King
Too Much Information. Should have been several books
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
France, England and Germany from 1756, and the rest of Europe from 1715 to 1789. 1091 pages. A staggering work. Donated to the library 2010 March.
Apr 15, 2010 added it
nonfiction,history,The Story of Civilization,Enlightenment
Marts  (Thinker)
May 21, 2011 marked it as shelved
Shelves: history
Volume ten of the eleven volume 'Story of Civilisation' by Will and Ariel Durant.
Noah Graham
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun Facts!
1. In spite of living most of his life as an impotent prude Rosseau still fathered multiple children! As far as history can tell all of them died of neglect!

2. A. Hayden wrote his Farewell symphony (where the musicians leave one by one as the music progresses) in order to hint to his boss the they all needed time off.

B. Most of the musicians in Haydens symphony wanted time off because they wanted to see their wives. Hayden had his wife with him and wanted to get away from her.

3. Goet
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book devotes twice as many pages (14) to comparing, contrasting, and summarizing three salons in Paris from 1757-1774 as it does to the East India Company's exploitative colonialism (7). (Note that 'Our Oriental Heritage' gives less than 250 pages to the entire history of India.)

Within the obvious limitations of this editorial perspective, the book is great. The Durants couldn't have written two volumes about the 18th century without really loving the salonnieres and philosophes and it show
Christian Turcu
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
Totally captivating! Pulitzer prize: fully deserved, even if the Durants had just written this volume. The breadth and depth of information - the best panorama of the 18th century I've read so far - is absolutely amazing. I will need at least a few weeks to digest it all before I can write a proper review.
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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

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)
  • The Age of Napoleon (The Story of Civilization, #11)
“The division of members into Tories or Whigs had by 1761 lost nearly all significance; the real division was between supporters and opponents of the current “government,” or ministry, or of the king. By and large the Tories protected the landed interest; the Whigs were willing now and then to consider the desires of the business class; otherwise both Tories and Whigs were equally conservative. Neither party legislated for the benefit of the masses.” 1 likes
“In order to prevent self-interest and ill-conceived projects, and all such dangerous innovations as finally ruined the Athenians, each man should not be at liberty to propose new laws at pleasure; this right should belong exclusively to the magistrates.... It is above all the great antiquity of the laws which makes them sacred and venerable; men soon learn to despise laws which they see daily altered; and states, by accustoming themselves to neglect their ancient customs under the pretext of improvement, often introduce greater evils than those they endeavor to remove.109” 0 likes
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