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Lessons of History [Hardcover]

W. Durant
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1986 --  
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Book Description

1 Jan 1986
In this illuminating and thoughtful book, Will and Ariel Durant have succeeded in distilling for the reader the accumulated store of knowledge and experience from their four decades of work on the ten monumental volumes of "The Story of Civilization." The result is a survey of human history, full of dazzling insights into the nature of human experience, the evolution of civilization, the culture of man. With the completion of their life's work they look back and ask what history has to say about the nature, the conduct and the prospects of man, seeking in the great lives, the great ideas, the great events of the past for the meaning of man's long journey through war, conquest and creation - and for the great themes that can help us to understand our own era.

To the Durants, history is "not merely a warning reminder of man's follies and crimes, but also an encouraging remembrance of generative souls ... a spacious country of the mind wherein a thousand saints, statesman, inventors, scientists, poets, artists, musicians, lovers, and philosophers still live and speak, teach and carve and sing..."

Designed to accompany the ten-volume set of "The Story of Civilization, The Lessons of History" is, in its own right, a profound and original work of history and philosophy.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 117 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (1 Jan 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671413333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671413330
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 16.3 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 791,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"The Durants' masterpiece belongs in any home library and occupies a shelf in many." --Dana D. Kelley, "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Will Durant (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1968) and the Medal of Freedom (1977). He spent more than fifty years writing his critically acclaimed THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION (the later volumes written in conjunction with his wife, Ariel). His book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY is credited with introducing more people to the subject of philosophy than any other work. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A labour of love and it shows. 1 July 1998
By A Customer
The fruit of more than 50 years of labour for all of us to savour.In less than 150 pages the author has condensed lessons drawn from the entire course of human history.The language and style is typical of Mr. Durant and is a pleasure to read. Recommended for all students of history as it will deepen understanding of mankind's past and enlighten our present. A true classic.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Will and Ariel Durant tried to bring Philosophy and an understanding of History to the common man and woman. They succeeded admirably, and some thirty years after reading this book I still turn to it in order to understand events occurring around me. This is no scholarly tome, but an invaluable manual for those seeking a better understanding of the world around us. It should be compulsory reading for all those aspiring to public office.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profound insight into the nature of man. 14 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
This book was assigned reading for an MBA program I took in 1983.For the first time I was presented with the ideas that described how we fit in the universe along with why we behave as we do.I was in my late 30's , an engineer by trade.I knew the historical behavior patterns of our numerous societies over the spectrum of recorded history, yet had failed to reduce these observations to a lowest common denominator.
Will and Ariel Durant segment our history and nature into basic, simple to read chapters, that explain in simple terms how societies have strived to achieve the Utopias we all dream of.
I was stunned at how history repeats itself and humbled at the fact that "the foibles of mans dreams" are the same today as they were a thousand years ago.
If your ego has convinced you that solutions to the challenges of society are within the grasp of our lives today,don't read this book!
On the other hand,if you are prepared to recognize that our species is nothing more than 4000 years of recorded history compared with 14,000,000 years of evolutionary development,sit back and enjoy!
This is not a book for individuals who have "new PC ideas as to the nature of mankind".They will find that their ideas are same-o,same-o.
Will and Ariel summerize a huge work in one volume that can be read in a day.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowledge in a nut shell 6 Nov 2010
By edrozzo
I'm a professor teaching semiotics to university students. To do so I relate all discussions to history and its repercussions on cultural expression. This tiny little book by Will and Ariel Durant is an excellent concentration of intelligent analysis of history and its relation to fundamental aspects of our contemporary lives. It is enlightening, provocative, exciting and so easily written to almost fool you into believing that you now understand all the major influences on human life. The chapters are divided into the relation of history with common social denominators such as: Religion and History, Economics and History or Geology and History, just to name a few. A great reference book for all who realize that history is an approach which allows you to understand the complexities of global culture. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in understanding why the world is how it is. Along with Toynbee's "The Study of History", this book is a must.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a very well written book outlining how humans have progressed through history in terms of religious beliefs, philosophy, politics and economics. It describes how everything we are witnessing in the world e.g economic collapse, credit crises etc have all happened in the past and the authors go into detail regarding the outcomes. My only criticism is that the book is quite short and could have been expanded a lot more but still a very enjoyable and informative read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Heritage 1 Jan 2014
These are a series of articles on history and the interaction with other subjects. The tone is both erudite and conversational, with masters of their trade imparting their nuggets of wisdom at the end of a long career. This is a reprint of an earlier work, so some topics are dated both by speech in this PC world and by their musing on the then present nature of communism. However the lessons gleaned from the broad canvas of human history make it a worthy addition to the historical heritage.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is nothing that I expected. I though that history books are boring but Durants make it really interesting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for your home library
Jim Rohn put me onto this book, along with a handful of others.
All the family have read it, it's a classic, and a vital tool, that will help inform your world view, and stand... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Simon Ludlam
5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless reading/listening - highly recommended!
The lessons related by Will Durant in the main 'book text' are interesting & insightful, plus the additional audio interviews with him (briefly covering each chapter/subject area),... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Simes
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars
I read this book the same day it arrived. It has some great view points, its informative and thought provoking. Very interesting
Published 13 months ago by dmandy
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
Good book, been wanting to read this book and its one you can read over and over again, good read
Published 20 months ago by Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
One of the best books ever written by Will Durant. What language! What prose! What style! Every page in the book comes forth like a breath of fresh air. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2011 by Kavin S. Kanagasabai
5.0 out of 5 stars The best history book I have ever read.
For me to give a book on history 5 stars is incredible. I really didn't enjoy history at school, if only I had been given this to read then. I would recommend this book to anyone. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2011 by Adrian
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome summary and conclusions from their life's work
Short and to the point. Easy to read. Incredibly accurate. Would recommend to anyone.
Published on 1 April 1999
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