Customer Reviews of The Age of Voltaire (Story of Civilization 9)
The Ninth Volume in The Story of Civilization!
In this, the Ninth Volume in the classic "Story of Civilization" series, Dr. Will & Ariel Durant have compiled a massive historical examination of France and England in the first-half of the Eighteenth Century.
At over >800 pages, the reader is treated to a vivid recount of: The English ideas that inspired an Enlightenment in France. The Salons of Paris. The philosophies of both nation states. Voltaire! The Augustan Age. The decay of absolute monarchy. Diderot, Helvetius, and Holbach, compilers of the first encylopedia.
Written to stand alone, or as part of the series, the Durants have written a smooth prose of unparalleled historical accuracy to be enjoyed by professional and layperson alike! I rate it as five stars as a part of the Durant's Magnum Opus known as "The Story of Civilization."
Durant is one of the greatest polymaths of the 20th century
Will Durant, initially by himself and later with his wife Ariel, has written some of the most readable and interesting histories of the 20th or any other century. I found these books in the early 1980s and took five years to read them all. It was the greatest intellectual experience of my lifetime, and now I am selectively reading them again. (Fortunately I then had the habit of underlining passages I found most compelling and facinating, and this is saving me a lot of time in my rereading of the Durants.) And this is perhaps the most informative of the books, especially given our present day American obscession with evangelical Christanity. Rereading Durant makes me conscious of just how destructive have been the Christian schools that so many of our students have been subjected to since the mid 60s. I think that the Durants would call today, with the eager reelection of Geo. W. Bush and his merry men, The Age of Ignorance. Would that our students of today felt compelled to read the Durants. wfh
ANOTHER WONDERFUL WORK BY DURANT
Durant's popularization of history, which he continues with this wonderful volume, has been and indeed, still is poo-pooed by many an academic. I first learned of this years ago while taking a never ending series of history courses in college. Almost to the man and woman, they, the professors, would gave collective fits if a student brought the name of Durant to class and heaven help the student who used a "popular history writer" to class in the form of a reference on a paper. I knew then that I had to own and read these books. I did and do now and have not regretted it one bit. Popular history, i.e. history that most of us can actually read and learn from is a wonderful thing. Few of us grow up to be academics and works such as these open many windows for us, the common person. I have been reading and rereading this series for years and have not regretted it one bit. This particular volume of course examines the French Revolution, it's results and those involved. Durant's style continues to come through and I promise you, you will learn much in a very enjoyable fashion. Recommend highly.
I remember seeing these sets of books in my University Bookstore in College--never read them, but picked up the whole set for .25 each at a garage sale. Little did I know what I'd been missing. I also just started teaching history in Calgary--a colleague agreed with me that they are fabulous, but said the snobby professors looked down on the Durants as "popularizers." I can't think of a higher compliment. Excellent footnotes, with quotes from primary resources, all the marks of a hallmark historian. I reading these books like steamy romance novels--and they are a lot more fun. Durrant is not afraid to comment on the sexual mores/and morality of the times. His judgments are pithy and well, history is riveting. I would have paid full price for these if I'd known how good they were!