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The Age of Voltaire: A History of Civilization in Western Europe from 1715 to 1756, With Special Emphasis on the Conflict Between Religion and Philosophy (The Story of Civilization, Vol. 9) Hardcover – July, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 898 pages
  • Publisher: Fine Communications (July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567310206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567310207
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 7.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
This is the time of Bach and Frederick the Great.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner
All in all, this is a detailed yet readable and enjoyable volume, one that provides the reader with a great overview of a significant era in European history.
Doug Erlandson
I knew then that I had to own and read these books.
D. Blankenship

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I remember seeing these sets of books in my University Bookstore in College--never read them, but picked up the whole set for .25 each at a garage sale. Little did I know what I'd been missing. I also just started teaching history in Calgary--a colleague agreed with me that they are fabulous, but said the snobby professors looked down on the Durants as "popularizers." I can't think of a higher compliment. Excellent footnotes, with quotes from primary resources, all the marks of a hallmark historian. I reading these books like steamy romance novels--and they are a lot more fun. Durrant is not afraid to comment on the sexual mores/and morality of the times. His judgments are pithy and well, history is riveting. I would have paid full price for these if I'd known how good they were!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Durant's popularization of history, which he continues with this wonderful volume, has been and indeed, still is poo-pooed by many an academic. I first learned of this years ago while taking a never ending series of history courses in college. Almost to the man and woman, they, the professors, would gave collective fits if a student brought the name of Durant to class and heaven help the student who used a "popular history writer" to class in the form of a reference on a paper. I knew then that I had to own and read these books. I did and do now and have not regretted it one bit. Popular history, i.e. history that most of us can actually read and learn from is a wonderful thing. Few of us grow up to be academics and works such as these open many windows for us, the common person. I have been reading and rereading this series for years and have not regretted it one bit. This particular volume of course examines the French Revolution, it's results and those involved. Durant's style continues to come through and I promise you, you will learn much in a very enjoyable fashion. Recommend highly.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Van Wagoner VINE VOICE on September 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the 9th volume of the Durant's impressive Story of Civilization. The subtitle of the book gives a good summary of the time period and emphasis of this history.

As usual, this is not a typical history book. It is a story of the major philosophers and intellects of this important age. It also goes into the customs and manners of all classes of people. The wars are mentioned and put into the perspective of how they impacted society, but details of the major battles are not covered, unless they impact a major character.

Durant uses an interesting method of covering this time frame. He covers the different nations histories in relation to the life and travels of Voltaire. He starts out giving a quick summary of Voltaire's early life, including his travels to England. He then talks about the history of England from 1714 to 1756 including all of their major rulers, philosophers, scientists and artists. This was the time of George I and II, William Pitt, John Wesley, David Hume, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and Handel.

Next he has Voltaire going back to France and covers France's History from 1723 to 1756. This history covers the time of Louis XV, Mme. De Pompadour, and Montesquieu. Many of the ideas covered by the philosophers of England and France are the ones used later in the American Revolution.

He then has Voltaire going to Middle Europe and covers the History of Germany, Prussia, and Switzerland from 1713 to 1756. This is the time of Bach and Frederick the Great.

The authors then discuss the advancement of learning and talk about the scholarly revolution and many of the great advances in science during this interesting time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Guerrilla Reader VINE VOICE on August 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In this, the Ninth Volume in the classic "Story of Civilization" series, Dr. Will & Ariel Durant have compiled a massive historical examination of France and England in the first-half of the Eighteenth Century.

At over >800 pages, the reader is treated to a vivid recount of: The English ideas that inspired an Enlightenment in France. The Salons of Paris. The philosophies of both nation states. Voltaire! The Augustan Age. The decay of absolute monarchy. Diderot, Helvetius, and Holbach, compilers of the first encylopedia.

Written to stand alone, or as part of the series, the Durants have written a smooth prose of unparalleled historical accuracy to be enjoyed by professional and layperson alike! I rate it as five stars as a part of the Durant's Magnum Opus known as "The Story of Civilization."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doug Erlandson TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It has been several years since I began reading through the volumes of "The Story of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant. (Will authored the first several himself. He and his wife collaborated on the last five volumes.) Every volume was a sheer joy to read, and I was actually a bit sad when I finished this project a couple years ago and realized that there were no more volumes to to entertain and inform me.

Given that some of the volumes in this series cover several centuries ("The Age of Faith" spans nearly a millennium) one might wonder how the Durants will find enough to talk about in the period they label "The Age of Voltaire," a period of approximately 40 years (1715 to 1756). Nevertheless, this is precisely what they do. In fact, this volume runs to more than 800 pages. And that is in part, perhaps in large measure, because this was a time of great intellectual and cultural ferment in Western Europe.

Whereas some volumes emphasize what was taking place on the geopolitical scene during the timeframe being covered, "The Age of Voltaire" devotes a significant portion of its length to the cultural and intellectual scene. Not just Voltaire, but the other French thinkers of this seminal era are covered, as are the influential thinkers in other countries, such as the deists in England. (This was also the age of the beginning of Methodism in England. Accordingly, the early part of John Wesley's life is also described in detail.) Attention is also paid to the graphic arts and the music of the time as well. (This was the time during which Bach and the other Baroque composers wrote much of their music.)

But lest one thinks that the geopolitical scene is ignored, nothing could be further from the truth.
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