- Series: Story of Civilization (Book 1)
- Publisher: Fine Communications (July 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1567310125
- ISBN-13: 978-1567310122
- Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 7.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Our Oriental Heritage (Story of Civilization) Hardcover – July, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
*Our Oriental Heritage* is the first volume in Will and Ariel Durant's eleven-volume history of civilization from the Sumerians to the Napoleonic era - the work of a lifetime, or rather two of them, as its publication spanned no less four decades (1935-1975) and eight years were spent on these first nine hundred pages alone.
Although well integrated by Durant's systematic approach, *Our Oriental Heritage* is actually four books in one (or five, if you include the opening ninety-page essay on the nature of civilization): the first one deals with the Near East - Sumeria, Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Judea and Persia - from the fourth millenium to the third century B.C. (275p); the second, with India from the Vedas to Gandhi, who was then still alive and, well, maybe not kicking (245p); the third, with China from the "Age of the Philosophers" to Sun Yat Sen (190p); and the fourth, with Japan from its mythical Shinto birth to the invasion of Manchuria (105p).
The organization of the book is more thematic than chronological. Though Durant does divide the histories of the various civilizations into periods and tries to follow their evolution, he limits himself to well-chosen historical highlights, seeking rather to understand the soul of each civilization by an analysis of its major cultural achievements.Read more ›
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".Read more ›
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 beautiful
if 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Will Durant tells the story of civilization in an engaging and enjoyable manner. I've read most of the volumes contained in this set. I highly recommend them. Read morePublished 24 days ago by G. Kent
This book compares favorably to "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" in that it should be read more for its literary merit than for its historical merit. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Mitch Johnson
@ hjk... Hello, I couldn't agree more with you concerning the Ebooks. Not only the problem you stated but where do they get off charging &160. Read morePublished 1 month ago by R.A.H
A Wonderful series about which much has been reviewed, so I'll keep this review about the Kindle formatting on the Android and Fire Kindle app, where this first book in the series... Read morePublished 1 month ago by JPP
This, like all of Will (and, in later volumes, his wife Ariel) Durant's THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION, is a delightful read, much easier to absorb that the volume's daunting thickness... Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Lane
People just don't give enough credit to Will Durant. In a series of volumes, with this one being the first, Durant basically tries to tell the entire story of the human race, from... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael