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Lessons of History Paperback – 10 May 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,824 ratings

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Review

The Durants' masterpiece belongs in any home library and occupies a shelf in many.
--Dana D. Kelley, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

About the Author

Will Durant (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1968) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977). He spent more than fifty years writing his critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, The Story of Civilization (the later volumes written in conjunction with his wife, Ariel). A champion of human rights issues, such as the brotherhood of man and social reform, long before such issues were popular, Durant's writing still educates and entertains readers around the world.

Will and Ariel Durant, after spending over fifty years completing the critically acclaimed series The Story of Civilization, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968. In 1977, the Durants were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Champions of human rights and social reform, the Durants continue to educate and entertain readers the world over. For more information on their work, visit www.willdurant.com.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ SIMON & SCHUSTER (US) (10 May 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 143914995X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1439149959
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.97 x 1.02 x 21.43 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,824 ratings

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top reviews from other countries

Sam Allen
1.0 out of 5 stars Did I read the same book?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 November 2020
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Samfish74
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking with some striking outlooks on society and human nature
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 June 2018
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Djilly L.
5.0 out of 5 stars A birds-eye view of human experience and civilisation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 September 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars A birds-eye view of human experience and civilisation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 September 2020
There is so much to learn from history. And much more than is described in this book. However this is a lovely, concise yet very rich book that offers insights from a brilliant point of view. It’s is a curiosity in my vast collection of history books. There aren’t that many books where so much substance is packed in such a small amount of pages. The 120-page book essentially deals with a selection principles and commonalities that bind human societies even though there are that separated by thousands of years. The thing, according to the authors, is that common human passions and desires drive comparable motivations, behaviour and societal change. All is based on the Durant’s decades-long study of and publications on historic topics. It’s simply a distillation of their academic work, brought back to a few essential points. None of the chapters cover more than few pages, yet the book covers the entirety of human history.

They explain how in their view historic events are driven by several factors those being biology, race, morals, religion, economics, government, war, progress and decline. To support their conclusions they will present examples. Now, a couple of statements and findings are deeply coloured by the era when the authors were publishing (1967). So while most is timeless and universal, communism comes up a lot. But also homosexuality is cited as a symptom of the degeneration of societies as is modern art. And democracy is not presented as the panacea to all social strive.
In fact, they also make a point that monarchy has been the more stable successful form of government and that democracy is hard to execute in practice. The impact of religious institutions on societies in general is being played down a,s according to the authors, they only have a role in moderating personal behaviour. Even if you disagree with some of these views / findings it is still super interesting to think about these issues and form your own conclusions.
So I think this book is really brilliant and unique in its set up. The authors, even if a bit quaint from time to time, make a brave and bold effort to offer some general findings and insight, rather than proving insight on specific events. All statements and conclusions are supported by historic examples, so it makes an interesting read, even if you don’t agree with all conclusions.

I think that a wide range of readers can benefit from the wisdom in this book although it helps if you have a good framework of history and social science as this will tie a good few things together.
The book provides a readable, original look on history but some if it comes close to prose, some of the arguing deals with complex issues or topics that are only mentioned such as the Anabaptists (a topic that fascinates me tremendously). But if you give it a chance it should be well worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, compassionate overview of history
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 November 2017
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Bart
5.0 out of 5 stars A book full of wisdom
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 September 2020
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