The Story of Civilization
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
The Story of Civilization (1935–1975), by husband and wife Will and Ariel Durant, is an 11-volume set of books covering both Eastern and Western civilizations for the general reader, with a particular emphasis on European (Western) history.
The series was written over a span of four decades.
The first six volumes of The Story of Civilization are credited to Will Durant alone, with Ariel recognized only in the acknowledgements. Beginning with The Age of Reason Begins, Ariel is credited as a co-author. In the preface to the first volume, Durant states his intention to make the series in 5 volumes, although this would not turn out to be the case.
The series won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 with the 10th volume in the series, Rousseau and Revolution.
The volumes were best sellers and sold well for many years. Sets of them were frequently offered by book clubs. An unabridged audiobook production of all eleven volumes was produced by the Books on Tape company and was read by Alexander Adams (also known as Grover Gardner).
I. Our Oriental Heritage (1935)
This volume covers Near Eastern history until the fall of the Achaemenid Empire in the 330s BC, and the history of India, China, and Japan up to the 1930s.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 1 ~ Our Oriental Heritage ~ Being a History of Civilization in Egypt and the Near East to the Death of Alexander; and in India, China and Japan from the Beginning to Our Own Day; with an Introduction on the Nature and Foundations of Civilization.
James H. Breasted's review was highly negative. W. N. Brown was hardly more impressed. Henry James Forman, reviewing for The New York Times found the work to be a masterpiece as did the New York Herald Tribune.
II. The Life of Greece (1939)
This volume covers Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic Near East down to the Roman conquest.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 2 ~ The Life of Greece ~ A History of Greek Government, Industry, Manners, Morals, Religion, Philosophy, Science, Literature and Art from the Earliest Times to the Roman Conquest.
Michael Ginsberg was favorably disposed. As was Edmund C. Richards. Reviews over Time and Boston Evening Transcript were very positive.
III. Caesar and Christ (1944)
The volume covers the history of Rome and of Christianity until the time of Constantine the Great.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 3 ~ Caesar and Christ ~ This Brilliantly Written History Surveys All Aspects of Roman Life ~ Politics, Economics, Literature, Art, Morals. It Ends with the Conflict of Pagan and Christian Forces and Raises the Curtain on the Great Struggle between Church and State.
J.W. Swain noted the book was written for a popular audience rather than scholars. And, it was successful at that. A review in Time was positive. John Day published a mixed review. Ralph Bates posted a negative one for The New Republic.
IV. The Age of Faith (1950)
This volume covers the Middle Ages in both Europe and the Near East, from the time of Constantine I to that of Dante Alighieri.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 4 ~ The Age of Faith ~ A History of Medieval Civilization ~ Christian, Islamic, and Judaic ~ from Constantine to Dante ~ A.D. 325 - 1300.
Sidney R. Packard, professor emeritus of history at Smith College, found the work to be quite good. Norman V. Hope had a similar impression. L.H. Carlson, for the Chicago Tribune, compared it to Jacob Burckhardt's works.
V. The Renaissance (1953)
This volume covers the history of Italy from c.1300 to the mid 16th century, focusing on the Italian Renaissance.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 5 ~ The Renaissance ~ A History of Civilization in Italy from the Birth of Petrarch to the Death of Titian ~ 1304 to 1576.
Wallace K. Ferguson published a review. Geoffrey Brunn wrote a favorable review for The New York Times.
VI. The Reformation (1957)
This volume covers the history of Europe outside of Italy from around 1300 to 1564, focusing on the Protestant Reformation.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 6 ~ The Reformation ~ A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin ~ 1300 - 1564.
Geoffrey Bruun published a positive review for The New York Times. Garrett Mattingly, for The Saturday Review, lambasted the volume but went on to say that Durant was widely-read and a capable storyteller.
VII. The Age of Reason Begins (1961)
This volume covers the history of Europe and the Near East from 1559 to 1648.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 7 ~ The Age of Reason Begins ~ A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo and Descartes ~ 1558 - 1648.
D. W. Brogan had a highly favorable impression. A review over the Time was positive.
VIII. The Age of Louis XIV (1963)
This volume covers the period of Louis XIV of France in Europe and the Near East.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 8 ~ The Age of Louis XIV ~ A History of European Civilization in the Peiod of Pascal, Molière, Cromwell, Milton, Petr the Great, Newton and Spinoza: 1648-1715.
J.H. Plumb found the book to be very poor. As did Stanley Mellon.
IX. The Age of Voltaire (1965)
This volume covers the period of the Age of Enlightenment, as exemplified by Voltaire, focusing on the period between 1715 and 1756 in France, Britain, and Germany.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 9 ~ 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.
Alfred J. Bingham found the volume to be a "thoroughly enjoyable semi-popular history".
X. Rousseau and Revolution (1967)
This volume centers on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his times. It received the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 10 ~ Rousseau and Revolution ~ A History of Civilization in France, England, and Germany from 1756, and in the Remainder of Europe from 1715 to 1789.
Alfred J. Bingham was effusive in his praise.
XI. The Age of Napoleon (1975)
This volume centers on Napoleon I of France and his times.
Full title: The Story of Civilization ~ 11 ~ The Age of Napoleon ~ A History of European Civilizatin from 1789 to 1815.
John H. Plumb was scathing. Joseph I. Shulim took a similar view. Alfred J. Bingham had a mixed yet favorable opinion. A review over The Saturday Review was very positive.
Editors on the series included M. Lincoln ("Max") Schuster and Michael Korda.
One volume, Rousseau and Revolution, won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1968. All eleven volumes were Book-of-the-Month Club selections and best-sellers with total sales of more than two million copies in nine languages.
- A Study of History
- The Cartoon History of the Universe
- Civilisation (TV series)
- The Outline of History
- The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community
- The Story of Philosophy
- The Lessons of History
- ^ "HISTORIAN WILL DURANT DIES; AUTHOR OF 'CIVILIZATION' SERIES". The New York Times. United Press International. 9 Nov 1981. Retrieved 28 Jan 2023.
- ^ "1968 Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prices. Columbia University. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
- ^ Ricciardelli, Michael (2018). "Historian and Philosopher Will Durant". Seton Hall University. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
- ^ Breasted, James H. (13 July 1935). "Interpreting the Orient". The Saturday Review of Literature. 12: 3.
- ^ Brown, W.N. (11 September 1935). "Review of Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant". The Nation. 141: 307.
- ^ Forman, Henry James (1935-08-04). "Will Durant Takes All Civilization as His Province; The Opening Volume of His Work Is a Vivid, Zestful History of Human Development". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ "Review". New York Herald Tribune. 10 July 1935. p. 15.
- ^ "Notices of Other Recent Publications". The American Historical Review. 45 (4): 940–997. 1940. doi:10.1093/ahr/45.4.940. JSTOR 1854522.
- ^ Richards, Edmund C. (1939-11-26). "The Glory That Was Greece; Will Durant's Account of Its Ancient Civilization Is a Triumph Of Popular Scholarship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ "Books: New History". Time. 1939-11-20. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ "Review". Boston Transcript. 18 November 1939. p. 1.
- ^ Swain, J. W. (1945). "Review of Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their Beginnings to A.D. 325". The American Historical Review. 50 (3): 516–517. doi:10.2307/1843130. JSTOR 1843130.
- ^ "Books: Old Rome and the U.S.A." Time. 1944-11-27. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Day, John (1944-12-10). "History – and Dr. Durant – March On; Caesar and Christ, a History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity From Their Beginnings to A.D. 325. By Will Durant. Volume III in The Story of Civilization. 768 pp. New York: Simon & Schuster". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Bates, Ralph (13 November 1944). "Review of "Caesar and Christ"". The New Republic. Vol. 111. p. 630.
- ^ Packard, Sidney R. (9 December 1950). "Striding the Centuries: Review of The Age of Faith". The Saturday Review of Literature. 33: 19–20.
- ^ Hope, Norman V. (July 1951). "The Story of Civilization: The Age of Faith, by William J. Durant. 1198 pp. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1950. $7.50". Theology Today. 8 (2): 262–264. doi:10.1177/004057365100800217. S2CID 170130811.
- ^ Carlson, L. H. (29 November 1953). "Review of The Renaissance by Will Durant". Chicago Sunday Tribune. p. 10.
- ^ "The Renaissance: A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304 To 1576 A.D. By Will Durant. [The Story of Civilization: Part V.] (New York: Simon and Schuster. 1953. Pp. xvi, 776. $7.50.)". The American Historical Review. April 1954. doi:10.1086/ahr/59.3.604.
- ^ Bruun, Geoffrey (1957-09-15). "Bright Pageant of a Golden Age; More Than 200 Years of Europe's History Live Again in Will Durant's New Volume Bright Pageant". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Mattingly, Garrett (9 November 1957). "Storytelling Historian". Saturday Review. 40: 20.
- ^ Brogan, D. w (1961-09-10). "One Result Was the Modern Mind; The Age of ReasonBegins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo and Descartes: 1558–1648. by Will and Ariel Durant. Vol. VII in "The Story of Civilization." Illustrated. 732 pp. New York: Simon & Schuster. Modern Mind". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ "Books: Century of Faith & Fire". Time. 1961-09-08. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Plumb, J. h (1963-09-15). "Some Personalities On the Paths of History; Some Personalities". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Mellon, Stanley (December 1963). "Historians and Others". The Yale Review. XLIII: 291–292.
- ^ Bingham, Alfred J. (1966). "Review of The Age of Voltaire". The Modern Language Journal. 50 (7): 498–500. doi:10.2307/322797. JSTOR 322797.
- ^ "Pulitzer Prize Winners: General Non-Fiction". pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
- ^ Bingham, Alfred J. (1969). "Review of Rousseau and Revolution". The Modern Language Journal. 53 (4): 273–275. doi:10.2307/323485. JSTOR 323485.
- ^ Bingham, Alfred J. (1969). "Review of Rousseau and Revolution". The Modern Language Review. 64 (3): 675–677. doi:10.2307/3722095. JSTOR 3722095.
- ^ Fink, Beatrice C. (1968). "Review of The Story of Civilization. X: Rousseau and Revolution". The French Review. 41 (6): 883–884. JSTOR 386184.
- ^ Plumb, J. H. (1975-10-26). "A ragbag of history continued". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
- ^ Shulim, Joseph I. (March 1976). "The Age of Napoleon: A History of European Civilization from 1789 to 1815: Durant, Will, and Ariel Durant: (The Story of Civilization: Part XI) New York: Simon and Schuster, 812 pp., Publication Date: November 3, 1975". History: Reviews of New Books. 4 (5): 108–109. doi:10.1080/03612759.1976.9945351.
- ^ Bingham, Alfred J. (1977). "Review of The Age of Napoleon, a History of European Civilization from 1789 to 1815. The Story of Civilization, Ariel". The Modern Language Journal. 61 (5/6): 293–295. doi:10.2307/325718. JSTOR 325718.
- ^ Morgan, Ted (1 November 1975). "The Last Condottiere". Saturday Review. 34: 34.
- ^ Korda, Michael (1999). Another Life: A Memoir of Other People (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-45659-7.
- ^ "Historian Will Durant Dies; Author of 'Civilization' Series". New York Times. UPI. November 9, 1981. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- Works by or about Ariel Durant in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Volumes 4 and 7 at the HathiTrust Digital Library