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Hardcover Story of Civilization, Vol I: Our Oriental Heritage: Volume I Book

ISBN: 067154800X

ISBN13: 9780671548001

Story of Civilization, Vol I: Our Oriental Heritage: Volume I

(Part of the The Story of Civilization (#1) Series, نشأة الحضارة: الشرق (#2) Series, and Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit (#1) Series)

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The Story of Civilization, Volume VIII: A history of European civilization in the period of Pascal, Moliere, Cromwell, Milton, Peter the Great, Newton, and Spinoza: 1648-1715. This is the eighth... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A GREAT MONUMENT, NOT YET FORGOTTEN

Will Durant's STORY OF CIVILIZATION is such a monumental achievement that, like a monument, it is easy to overlook and underestimate. Its eleven volumes, published from 1935 to 1975, sit on the shelf in many an American home, having been purchased for a few dollars as an introductory offer to some forgotten book club and mostly left unread. Scholars tend to pass the title by, no doubt regarding it as mere popular history. Yet crack open the cover of any one of its heavy tomes and you will find within a narrative written in the high style, with an omnivorous hunger for facts and analysis, a delight in depicting the details of everyday life (the streets, clothes, housing, money, speech, labor and laws of every society), a determination to recover and explain all the main battles and events, a progressive approach to social issues (with special attention to women and the contributions of slaves), a sumptuous pleasure in recounting the attainments of the arts and sciences, a remarkably free handling of the gods and their religions (their social service and rapacity not passing without comment), an enthusiasm for broad philosophical speculations, a heartfelt tribute to each of the great thinkers and doers and the heritage they left us, and through it all an indulgent irony that, given a different turn, would bespeak of a world and a humanity as senseless and doomed, yet ever striving, as the dark horror of Joseph Conrad. I know of nothing else in American arts and letters to match it, and, though dated, it is far from obsolete. Reading it today, one can build a broad foundation of knowledge and perspective for more up-to-date and less grandiose offerings. How did he do it? It is hard to imagine, but judging by his lists of sources, it would appear that for each historical unit (a period, society or people) he assimilated a half-dozen or more studies, such as the CAMBRIDGE ANCIENT HISTORY, and used them as guides for the basic exposition, peppering his account with relevant materials drawn from his prior erudition, such as the works of German philosophy or English literature, classical architechture or Christian doctrine. He also visited historical sites and museums so as to see things with his own eyes and acquire a personal touch. Some pages, like those on ancient Egypt, read like reports from a sightseer just returned home. And finally he ran his drafts past renowned scholars, so as to gain their insights and corrections. For many a page, however, where diverse facts, skills and sciences are brought together into a harmonious synthesis, it was plain hard work. OUR ORIENTAL HERITAGE, the first volume in the series, begins, appropriately enough, with the author's definition of civilization, not essentially different from that of Samuel Huntington and his CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS (1996), and then reconstructs, with a ready admission of fantasy, its probable origins in prehistory. The history proper begins with Sumer in a solid, but somewhat routine acc

A daunting, but enjoyable read

Since college, I have wanted to own the ten volume The Story of Civilization by Will Durant. It simply was a purchase that a poor student or a novice pastor could afford. My father-in-law Melvin Gosser, found a set at a garage sale and purchased them for me as a Christmas present. Now, I have the daunting job of reading them. Will and Ariel Durant spent a lifetime in research and writing to complete this set, beginning with the publication of Our Oriental Heritage in 1935 and concluding in 1967 with Rousseau and Revolution. Each of these volumes are massive, between 800 and 1200 pages each.I have to admit, I was tempted to skip over Our Oriental Heritage and begin reading where "real" history begins with ancient Greece. I am so glad I didn't. More than information, the Durants are delightfully politically incorrect. Any historian can give you the facts, a good one will do so with style, but a great historian gives himself. That is exactly what the Durants have done. As I started reading, I made myself review the first two hundred pages and began to underline delightful insights, and the beautiful prose of the authors. Here is an example of their prose: "The scenes of your youth, like the past, are always beautifulif we do not have to live in them again"Example of their insights: "It is almost a law of history that the same wealth that generates a civilization announces its decay. For wealth produce ease as well as art; it softens a people to the ways of luxury and peace and invites invasion from stronger arms and hungrier mouths." That is not to say that every chapter was spell binding, they were not. There were whole sections that I had to discipline myself to read. I won't fault the author's, however. Reading about ancient Persia, India and China, left me somewhat perplexed. My lack of knowledge of these cultures made it difficult for me to appreciate the author's insights.As I read about the rise and fall of civilizations, I could not help but worry about our own. His insights seem to be coming true every day. Not a read for everyone, but if you have a long cold winter to endure, I can think of no better way to pass the time than by reading this book.

A grand tour of Eastern Civilization

Imagine a man sat down to write the Story of Civilization. All civilization... its lessons, its poetry, its characters, its schemers, its action, and its wisdom. It will require a brave soul indeed. Picture that man at his desk.We definitely do not want a cynic, a hermit with eyebrows curled tight in thoughts of literary vengeance or historical chicanery... let us shut that character down before the first dip of the pen. Instead, we fancy a skeptic, one who owns a moist twinkling eye that comes from perspective, and a slightly crooked smile of insight. We definitely want a man of confidence who has deep love for his undertaking, but maintains gentleness of speech and a crisp, discerning ear; a man with healthy complexion and moderately rounded belly that reflects the love of a caring, tender woman; a man with good humor and love for his neighbors and hometown that extends outward to embrace all of humanity. A man that could write the following: "It was a great moral improvement when men ceased to kill or eat their fellowmen, and merely made them slaves.""Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.""Civilization is not something inborn or imperishable; it must be acquired anew by every generation, and any serious interruption in its financing or its transmission may bring it to an end."You can feel the warmth of this man's breath as he reads close to your ear. You can see the proper adjustment of the spectacles; you can hear the wry grin in his voice. And passion is manifest in his full-bodied baritone. Will Durant retrieved and dusted Voltaire's two-century old gauntlet, and found it to fit just fine. Voltaire would have approved wholesale of Durant, for he fit the wise joker's primary criteria that "only philosophers should write history". Durant had produced the master critique of philosophy, 1926's Story of Philosophy, which grandly culled the essences of Spinoza, Bacon, Aristotle, Nietzche, Schopenhauer, Bergson, and all the other deities of thought. By Confucius' rule of learning, Durant himself became an adept.Durant was a philosopher and a prototype skeptic. He also held a mild socialism and a sunny atheism, all in hopes of his fellow man's obtaining a few unreserved hours with which to sit back with a book written by a good friend. On all four characteristics, he still always willingly held objectivity's mirror close at hand:"Fools can invent more hypotheses than philosophers can ever refute, and philosophers often join them in the game." "Men are always readier to extend government functions than to pay for them."Durant began his undertaking intending only to review 18th century Europe. However, the stories of the past, as well, certainly, as the subconscious calling of his unequivocal abilities, pulled Durant back further and convinced him that he may as well take on Everything while he was at it.The centerpiece of the 11-book set is the grand introduction to Volume 1, Our Oriental Heritage. Here, Durant surve

Good book

This is the first book in the series by Will Durant about "The Story of Civilization". It was written in first half of this century, but in general still makes for a good introduction to history. This is the volume that covers basically what would be called non-European or non-Western cultures. It still contains a lot of information and is very good. The biggest short coming to the series of books is that it was written roughly 70 years ago now, so any updates in information about various aspects of history, sometimes get discussed as if they are still in debate, or are not in general debate when they are now. This time affect also explains why he only has one volume on non-European history... Much of the history of China, India, and other parts of the world have only become known in the West in the last 50 yeras. So, naturally, Mr Durant couldn't cover things he didn't know about. He does, more or less, acknowledge his lack of information in some places too. All in all, this is still a good indroduction to history.
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