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The Age of Faith (The Story of Civilization, Volume 4) Hardcover – December 25, 1980

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Product Details

  • Series: Story of Civilization (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 1200 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 25, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671012002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671012007
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.8 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mark Edward Bachmann on August 19, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
Will Durant wrote like a force of nature, and this book is a fine expression of his power. The body of his life's work seems to have been an effort, albeit incomplete, to cover the entire history of mankind, and each individual volume covers it's time frame by sweeping through every aspect of civilization: politics, military affairs, economics, science, art, philosophy, religion, literature, architecture, and social customs. The Age of Faith opens with the death of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 337 and carries up through around the 14th century, the dawn of what has come to be known as the Renaissance. As implied by the title of this volume, it was the flowering of the three great Western religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - which dominates the story, and Durant devotes significant attention to all three, even though the birth of "Christendom" ultimately emerges as the defining event of the era. The charm of Durant's writing is the passionate love affair he seems to have had with humankind through all times and in all of it's manifestations. While he doesn't minimize the unspeakable brutalities that recur, he writes with an exuberant reverence for the spiritual and intellectual industry that he finds in every facet of human development. Like any competent historian, he also dispels historical stereotypes, and there is no real sense of a "Dark Age" at any point during this period despite Durant's occasional use of the term. However, what does become clear is that until late in the period, it was Islam, rather than Christianity, that achieved the most advanced civilization of medieval times. For readers, such as myself, who are largely ignorant of Islam, the lengthy chapters devoted to Muslim culture may be the most informative and interesting in the book.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wynkoop on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not kidding, it took me almost a year read this book. It is at once, both intriguing and, how can I put this gently, boring. Before you zap me with a negative rating, let me explain. What Durant is attempting to do in writing the story of civilization is incredible. I just do not know of anyone who has come close to accomplishing what Durant (and his wife, Ariel) have done. But when one attempts to cover just a vast subject, it is difficult to communicate with clarity the sub-total of human achievement.
For instance, his discussion of the rise of Islam was both interesting and difficult to read. Intriguing because we see that the conflict between Islam and the Christian west has antecedents that go back over a thousand years. I discovered that it was nip and tuck whether or not the West was going to be able to defend Europe from Moslem conquest. The current tension between radical Islam and the West is only the latest chapter in a long and bloody struggle; but our inability to grasp Arabic names, geography and history, makes this reading difficult. Another area of difficulty was his discussion on medieval architecture. Just how does one communicate form in words that does the form justice? Durant gets and A for effort, but, once again, I had to plow my way through sections like these.
Is it worth the read? You bet. What we see here is the drama of human achievement. From the death and destruction that followed the fall of the Imperial Rome to the civilizing of a continent, Durant shows us the triumph of the human spirit. Durant also shows us the legacy of Roman law, language and civilization on the West.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By oamaz on April 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although it is obvoius that to squeeze 7 centuries of history of Europe and Asia Minor into 1 volume (although very thick) is a task for an ingenious historian, to make this volume engrossing and even fascinating - is hardly achievable. But Mr. Durant's talent is unsurpassed: the book contains summary of all important events - military and religeous, cultural and social - as well as biographies of legendary personae of the times we used to call the Dark Ages. But the language of the book and the details it provides are not just dry facts (which makes many other similar compilations boring and easily forgettable), the author makes you feel and understand the customs and rites of the epoch, its way of dressing, food, family relations..., by drawing parallels with our times. I have read quite a few books on history of that period, and by far, this book, employing a special scientific approach, is the best, although written several decades ago: it throbbs with the echo of life of centuries long past.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Scott McCrea on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Durant and his wife--who co-wrote all of the volumes although she didn't get credit until Volume 7, "The Age of Reason Begins") are simply the greatest writers of history since Gibbon.
The prose is engrossing, engaging, spectacular, pithy, witty, warm, inviting--in short, I am exhausting the vocabulary of praise for them. I read these volumes, especially this one, over and over again for the sheer joy of the prose.
Durant covers the period from the year 300 until 1300, usually considered the Middle Ages in the West. He covers so much material it is simply astounding and impossible to aborb in ten readings. This book is one for a lifetime of reading.
The strengths are in the cultural area--particular the coverage of writers. Durant was an academic specializing in philosophy so his coverage of subject as overwhelmingly dull as the Scholastic Philosophers makes it come alive. He gives summaries of dozens of writers and the major literary movements in Europe, the Middle East and Islam.
The coverage Islam is extensive but contains the word "Mohammadan" to describe muslims. This is understandably offensive to muslims because it implies whorship of Mohammad. However, Durant is no bigot, the word was simply the fashion when the book was written, much as the word "negro" was in fashion at the same period of time (1950). Muslim readers should not be put off by this. His treatment of your faith and civilization is honest, fair and free of prejudice.
The primary weaknesses of the book (and the entire series) is in the military area. Durant admits his relative lack of interest in this area and relies on secondary sources. He is too credulous of ancient historians--often printing fantastic figures for soldiers and casualties; e.g.
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