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Our Oriental Heritage (Story of Civilization) Hardcover – July 1, 1997
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About the Author
WILL DURANT (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He spent over fifty years writing his critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, The Story of Civilization. A champion of human-rights issues such as social reform and the brotherhood of man long before they were popular, he continues to educate and entertain readers worldwide through his writings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The breadth and scope is amazing. Despite it being written 75 years ago, this is a history book I wish I could have read 20 years ago as a teenager. I've always been bothered by the question of "How did we get here?" in the most general sense. This book fills in the gaps in my knowledge and understanding and leads to even more questions. And better yet, the author admits readily that the book won't cover everything and some will be incorrect.
Our Oriental Heritage is broken up into 5 books: The Establishment of Civilization, The Near East, India and Her Neighbors, The Far East and Japan. Better and more educated people than I can critique the historical content, but the tone of the book is great. It's a conversational, easy style that very few academic writers can master. And despite the size of the book (over a thousand pages!) it's a lot less intimidating once you get into it, and realize that a sizable portion of the book is endnotes, showing how much of a research effort this book was.
I've learned a ton of interesting anecdotes, enough that you could repeat to someone and have them say that it's pretty cool - where did you learn that? and immediately point them to this book. And from the rise and fall of civilizations, you can draw parallels to our own and wonder if the same fate will happen to us.
The Kindle edition didn't have any glaring errors that I saw - I've read previous reviews but either they've been corrected or I've been completely oblivious to them that it didn't matter.
I just wish I could have read this book years ago. The entire collection of The Story of Civilization might have changed my life.
Twenty years ago, or so, there was a CD-ROM of these volumes released. It wasn't particularly well produced and was rather rudimentary as multimedia presentations go. However, it did have the entire text in what was essentially an ASCII format. I was curious whether that version of the digital text was the basis of these eBooks. But that version was apparently not the source since that version does not contain the errors found in the present version.
This leads me to believe that the paper version was run through some sort of an OCR process. But for those of us who have owned OCR programs -- even very good ones -- we know that careful "editing" of the OCR output is ALWAYS required. So the root cause of these problems either stems from too much trust in an OCR process OR from digital editors who weren't doing their job. But, again, these culprits don't belong to Amazon but to the publisher.
At the end of the day, I am still very pleased to have these volumes presented on Kindle. Since the total is 8,000 to 10,000 pages, being able to carry around the whole set on a portable device is a wonderful thing.
As to the content, well, it is the magnum opus of a gifted writer and historian who has written what he admits to be an impossible work to unify and integrate the history of the world (no less) for "the rest of us." It is an extraordinary gift and remains so over 75 years after the first publication of this volume. The content is recommended without reservation and is 5 star all the way. The technical execution is sloppy on the part of a major publisher.