THE LESSONS OF HISTORY by Will and Ariel Durant


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Will Durant once wrote that ""most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice."" Now, thirty-three years later, he and Mrs. Durant, in this peroration to their monumental ""Story of Civilization,"" look back to record the lessons and conclusions of their ten-volume excursion into human folly and achievement--and, coincidentally, to determine what value historical guesswork and historians' predispositions may have in understanding the nature of humanity. Their reflections are thematic in nature, discussing the influence and effect upon history of certain qualities, institutions, and movements: race, character, moral systems, religion, socialism, government, war, and so forth. Their overall conclusion is at once optimistic and realistic; the phenomenon of human progress is no figment of the historian's imagination; it is real, in the sense that each generation is born to a heritage richer than that received by their fathers. Thus, the twentieth century is the most blessed of all eras so far, from a cultural standpoint, for it has assimilated the best of the Periclean Greeks, of the Renaissance, of the Voltairian age, etc. The Durants' ""Story"" is, despite the cavils of a few disputatious historians, the historical synthesis par excellence for the intelligent non-specialist. The Lessons of History, despite its extreme brevity (it is hardly more than a pamphlet), forms an integral and necessary part of that opus and must be read as such, or as an independent work in the tradition of Augustine's Retractationes and Toynbee's Reconsiderations.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1968
ISBN: 143914995X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster