Timothy Finnegan's Reviews > The Story of Civilization
The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set)
Timothy Finnegan's review
Jan 06, 2011
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 about everything and transcribing that knowledge into beautiful authoritative prose. My parents, like so many of their generation, bought the set of books by joining the Book of the Month Club in the 50's and 60's. From time to time I would consult the volumes for school reports and so forth and so on. Twenty years ago I read "A World Lit Only by Fire" by William Manchester, a book based upon Manchester's reverence for Durant and his accomplishment. I became interested in the Story of Civ then and read most of them in the next year or two. They are well written. They are 40-60 years old so they creak from time to time. His wife Ariel became co-editor late in the series. They end with Napoleon and the beginning of the modern era. Recently my daughter's former boss at the Atlantic published a book about the fall of Rome and the moral for America. Intrigued, I went back to Durant's chapter on the same subject and spent a very pleasant afternoon reliving 500 years. Personally indispensible.
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January 6, 2011 – Shelved