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Sintesi dell'editore

At Will Durant's death at 96, in 1981, his personal papers were dispersed among relatives, collectors, and archive houses. Twenty years later, scholar John Little discovered the previously unknown manuscript of Heroes of History in Durant's granddaughter's garage. Written shortly before he died, these 21 essays serve as an abbreviated version of Durant's best-selling, 11-volume series, The Story of Civilization. Durant traces the lives and ideas of those who have helped to define civilization, from Confucius to Shakespeare, from the Roman Empire to the Reformation, spanning thousands of years of human history. A volume of life-enhancing wit and wisdom, Heroes of History draws upon Durant's expansive knowledge and singular ability to translate distant events and complex ideas into easily accessible principles.
©2001 John Little, Monica Ariel Mihell, and William James Durant Easton (P)2003 The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.

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  • Generale
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Maolsheachlann
  • 03/12/2008

You can almost smell the pipe smoke

Avuncular. That's the only word to describe Will Durant's tone in this guided tour through several millennia. The author, a historian in his nineties, decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom-- America's highest civilian award-- isn't shy about giving his own judgement on the periods and figures he describes, or ocasionally switching from history to personal anecdote. But that's no bad thing in a man of such broad sympathies, such temperate wisdom. Durant doesn't lecture to you; he takes your hand and brings you on a ramble through the centuries.

This will serve as a good introduction to European history to those who know little of it so far. Those whose historical knowledge is more advanced won't learn very much new, but they might well be given a new perspective on what they do know.

The book is called Heroes of History, but heroes and villains seem to populate it in equal measure. Durant spends a dutiful (and short) chapters describing ancient China, Egypt and India, but he only warms to his theme when he reaches Ancient Greece. From the on, the focus remains resolutely upon the European mainland, until it shifts to the England of Queen Elizabeth at the very end.

Art history and drama are given special attention, along with religion-- Durant trained to be a priest but drifted away from his faith, and believers may find his sceptical warmth towards Christianity a little patronising. Secularists, on the other hand, might find it wooly-minded. But, on the whole, Durant is a genial guide, and offers some insights well worth attending to. Anyone interested in history, and especially the history of ideas, will take something from this book.

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