In the tradition of his own bestselling masterpieces The Story of Civilization and The Lessons of History, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Will Durant traces the lives and ideas of those who have helped to define civilization, from its dawn to the beginning of the modern world.
Heroes of History is a book of life-enhancing wisdom and optimism, complete with Durant's wit, knowledge, and unique ability to explain events and ideas in simple, exciting terms. It is the lessons of our heritage passed on for the edification and benefit of future generations—a fitting legacy from America's most beloved historian and philosopher.
Will Durant's popularity as America's favorite teacher of history and philosophy remains undiminished by time. His books are accessible to readers of every kind, and his unique ability to compress complicated ideas and events into a few pages without ever "talking down" to the reader, enhanced by his memorable wit and a razor-sharp judgment about men and their motives, made all of his books huge bestsellers. Heroes of History carries on this tradition of making scholarship and philosophy understandable to the general reader, and making them good reading, as well.
At the dawn of a new millennium and the beginning of a new century, nothing could be more appropriate than this brilliant book that examines the meaning of human civilization and history and draws from the experience of the past the lessons we need to know to put the future into context and live in confidence, rather than fear and ignorance.
This posthumous collection of essays by a Pulitzer Prize winner targets those who don't know much about history. Durant, who died in 1981 at the age of 96, is best known for the multivolume history of the world, The Story of Civilization, he wrote with his wife, Ariel. In these recently discovered essays, he again displays his talents for popularizing history, most notably a remarkable ability to summarize complicated thoughts and events in a few succinct words: this book of "heroes" covers figures ranging from Nero to Shakespeare and spans more than 2,000 years. After the first three essays, on Confucius, Buddha and Egypt's Ikhnaton, Durant turns his attention to Greece, Rome and the rise of the West. He devotes several chapters to Jesus and his followers over the centuries, asserting that the study of religion "sheds more light upon the nature and possibilities of man and government than the study of almost any other subject or institution open to human inquiry." Moreover, Durant derives moral and aesthetic satisfaction from religious expression: "To have conceived and adored , and raised a thousand temples in her honor, is one of the redeeming features of the human race." And Jesus's "presence and his faith were themselves a tonic; at his optimistic touch the weak grew strong." After a discussion of the medieval Church's crackdown on heretics, Durant observes simply, "Freedom is a luxury of security." This book is likely to find a wide audience among those looking for an introduction to world history, but the absence of a bibliography and source notes may denote to scholars a certain lack of rigor.