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The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination Reprint Edition

50 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679743750
ISBN-10: 0679743758
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Editorial Reviews Review

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin brings his customary depth and range to this compelling book on Western art, taking on everything from European megaliths (Stonehenge, for example) to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography ("the first American addition to world literature"). Boorstin does not aim at being comprehensive--he much prefers to linger over certain "heroes of the imagination" as he surveys human accomplishment in the fields of architecture, music, painting, sculpting, and writing--yet The Creators certainly feels comprehensive, as Boorstin carefully places everything he describes within a grand tradition of aesthetic achievement.

Boorstin knows that good history demands good writing, and his prose makes this big book easy to absorb. "This is a story," he writes, "of how creators in all the arts have enlarged, embellished, fantasized, and filigreed our experience"--an apt description of the role art plays in our life and an equally apt description of the way Boorstin interprets it for readers. (The Creators also is the second volume of a trilogy that starts with The Discoverers and concludes with The Seekers, although none of these books requires any knowledge of the others.) --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

Boorstin's companion volume to The Discoverers --a one-week PW bestseller and a BOMC main selection in cloth--chronicles 3000 years of artistic invention, while providing entertaining biographical profiles of Dante, Leonardo, Goethe, Ben Franklin, Picasso and dozens more.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 28, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743750
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on September 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am totally dissatisfied with most reviews of this book. I think most of that people did not understand what the book is all about. Boorstin traces, wonderfully, in my opinion, the history of the individual as a creator of original and personal ways to see and interpret the world. Of course, he had to focus on the Western culture. I am amazed to read politically correct people enraged about Boorstin's supposed "trashing" of non-Western cultures, something I definitely didn't find in the book. He describes exactly why it was the Western culture the one that allowed the individual to become a real creator, not just a fine artisan. He never says Western culture is "better", only different in that it produced the only way to be an artist: be an individual (for good and bad). And he is right. The book is fascinating in the way it describes the rise of the individual. Of course, the path he chose could have been different. But it's very illustrative. The book can not be boring. It shows exactly the kind of geniuses that created art. Most of them, by the way, lived difficult and often tragic lives. I recommend it to every one interested in finding out how and why modern art was born and developed. Besides, it is full of interesting, even funny, anecdotes about the lives of the creators. If you read it, it will be the best stimulus to see, read, and listen to some of the most important creations of humankind.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have completed "The Creators" Heros of the Imagination by Daniel Boorstein. One of the three in a series. The other two are, "The Discoverers" and "The Seekers" Though my copy is beaten up and falling apart, I recommend this book to any inquisitive mind who thinks that they lost out on a classical education. My reading of the book took well over a year, in little reads here and there, when I could. Absolutely jam packed with useful information about the stuff that I didn't learn in my US public schooling. Well written for covering over 2000 years of history and the creative artists, writers, musicians, etc. and other influential people of the period.
Sometimes I had to set with a dictionary open and ready, just to get through the sections, especially the part on Greek temple construction. The reading of this book helped me to appreciate more of what I've seen in Rome, Italy and elsewhere on my trips. The sections on Dante, Giotto, Shakespeare, Goethe, Verdi, Wagner, Beethoven, Voltaire, Dickens, Sartre, Kafka and others were very revealing and stuff that I had never been made aware of. Everything in the US has been tremendously influenced by Europe and before that by the Greeks and the Romans. Nothing is new, the Romans made concrete 2000 years ago.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M on June 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Creators by Daniel Boorstin is an excellant read. This book was more reader friendly then The Discoverers and just as well researched. As Boorstin does in the Discoverers, each chapter tells the life story of an artist/musician/architech and while doing this goes in depth on this person's works.

The areas of focus for this book are:

1. "The Riddle of Creation" (creation stories in differant cultures)

a. Worlds without beginnings (eastern religions)

b. A creator-god (mostly western religions)

2."Creator Man" (stone age through middle ages)

a. The Power of Stone (early monuments)

b. The Magic of Images (writing)

c. The Immortal Word (the first books)

3."Re-Creating the World" (middle ages to 1920's)

a. Otherworldly Elements (religous art)

b. The Human Comedy (books of the late middle ages to more modern books)

c. From Craftsman to Artist (Paintings)

d. Conjuring with time and space (light, buildings, etc.)

4. "Creating the self" (modern times)

a. The Vanguard Word (famous books)

b. The Wilderness Within (authors and painters who excluded themselves from society)

These differant areas cover the main areas of the arts through the ages.

The only problem with this book was the music sections. For some one with no musical experiance, the book was a little over my head. This is about 50-100 pages of the book.

I would suggest this book to others.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on November 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Daniel Boorstin makes no apology for being a Jewish liberal in the classical Western sense. In fact he states that he sees history from a "Euro-centric" perspective, which, after all only makes sense since that is his and our heritage. He is writing a book for mainly Americans about the history of creation. It is the 2nd of the "Knowledge Trilogy": The Discoverers, this book and "The Seekers".
If the Discoverers covered the searching mind then the Creators is a study of the searching soul. Covering topics as far apart as music, art, poetry, religion, architecture, literature, psychology and science, he skillfully reviews the history of man's search for himself. His quirky yet factual tidbits of history enlighten the story of (mainly) Western culture although he does examine aspects of other cultures. If you are a person interested in all things human then this is the book for you.
The Creators has been criticized for its so-called "Western" outlook as if that automatically made the work suspect. Why is the European viewpoint less worthy than say, an Arab viewpoint? The West has profoundly affected the world - and continues to do so today - unlike any other culture with such ideas as liberty, democracy, pluralism and individualism. And what kind of person denigrates their own culture for no other reason than its trendy to do so? This is a magnificent work that will keep you enthralled for days. Get it now
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