From Publishers Weekly
This engaging, accessible book of essays from Pulitzer Prize-winning philosopher and historian Durant, author of the authoritative 11-volume Story of Civilization, should be essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of thought. Little, the founder and director of The Will Durant Foundation, includes in his slim compendium such works as "The One Hundred 'Best' Books For an Education" and "Twelve Vital Dates in World History." Durant's "The Ten 'Greatest' Thinkers" details minds as enlightening as Confucius and as influential as Darwin, whom Durant says "reduced man to an animal fighting for his transient mastery of the globe." "The Ten 'Greatest' Poets," charts a course from Homer's brilliance to Dante's haunted heart to Whitman's "frank and lusty" originality, in prose peppered with biographical bon mots and excerpts of the world's loveliest poems. Lay folks especially will find this a delightful introduction to Durant's irrepressible style. What else would one expect from Durant, an intellect who, when asked, "Whom in all of history would you most like to have known?" drolly replied, "Madame de Pompadour."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
By the time of his death in 1981, it was fashionable for many scholars to deride the works of Will Durant; his faith in human progress and emphasis upon the great achievements of individuals seemed outmoded in circles that stressed pessimism about the fate of humanity and lauded the power of mass movements. So it is refreshing to again encounter historical writing that brims with optimism and pays just tribute to individual minds and ideas that have shaped history and advanced both moral and material progress. Editor Little is a lecturer on philosophy, a documentary filmmaker, and director of the Will Durant Foundation. His compilation of Durant's essays is divided into sections on the greatest thinkers, poets, books, and landmarks of human progress. Even Durant acknowledges that his efforts to rate "top tens" borders on the frivolous, but there is nothing frivolous about Durant's elegant prose and cogent insight into the lives and minds of men as diverse as Confucius, Voltaire, and Darwin. This compact work is a gem that elevates historical writing to the level of superb literature. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved