The Lessons of History: The Most Important Insights from the Story of Civilization

Version: Unabridged
Author: Will Durant , Ariel Durant
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Genres: History, Self Development
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published In: June 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 5 hours, 30 minutes
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The Lessons of History is a profound yet accessible distillation of the vital lessons derived from the famed historians' five decades of research and reflection on philosophy and the history of humankind. It is based on The Story of Civilization, the 11-volume masterpiece of world history for the general reader. This revised and expanded edition, available only on audio, includes two previously unpublished essays.

Reviews (7)

Invaluable Lessons

Written by Mandi Chestler from Lake Oswego, OR on August 17th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I'm probably one of the few SAB members who has actually read Will and Ariel Durant's 11-volume, ten thousand page Story of Civilization. (It took over 5 years to finish!) When the series ended at Napoleon's death in 1821, I wished the Durants had written 2 more volumes completing the 19th and beginning the 20th centuries' histories. Listening to The Lessons of History was a welcome conclusion. This little book is a gem and should be required reading for all American high school students. You need not be fimiliar with the Durants' other books to get full value. It is every bit as enriching and entertaining as Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything; Gladwell's The Tipping Point, and Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel--and even though it is written long before these newer bestsellers, it is every bit as current and pertinent.

Good, as Expected

Written by Andrew McIntyre on April 20th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

It is hard to go wrong with Will Durant. Although his aged voice was a bit difficult to understand, I think the explanations he offered help one to understand the meaning of the text and the intent of the author. It added a bit of heart to what otherwise might be a dry read.

Could not finish

Written by Anonymous from Boise, ID on December 9th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I could not finish this book. While I respect the author and his knowledge, his choice to have his own voice recorded as an interview was a mistake. I could not understand most of what he said. The narrator was easy to listen to and understand. What I did hear was very informative and profound.

Lessons of History

Written by Philly from N.O. on August 28th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Good-Makes you think about how timeless we really are. Nothing really has changed just the names and faces and quicker ways of doing things.

Content interesting, voice distracting

Written by Sariena Carmichael on April 10th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Reader's voice a little distracting,rading a bulleted "list of lessons", interesting theories on conflict, evolution and adaptation, hard to sustain in parts, but still worth the read for content.

A gem

Written by Blake from Plainfield, IL on June 29th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This is an absolute gem. I have not yet read (listened to) a more profound narrative on history and culture of mankind in my life. Durant writes whole books within paragraphs, and makes deep yet clear illuminations of his research. I found the book to be very accessible even though there is a wealth of information contained in it. Not once did I feel bogged down or over my head with his observations and conclusions. The man is a true wordsmith and I intend to find more of his books to either read or listen to if possible. The format may put some off as it comes across like an extended interview with pockets of actual audio of Durant and his wife answering questions and ruminating on his experience in his chosen field. If you like history, this is a must.

Lessons of History

Written by Anonymous on June 14th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

An awesome account of human history. An elegant piece read by an eloquent speaker. Should be read by everyone. Highly recommended!

Author Details

Author Details

Durant, Will

WILL DURANT (1885-1981) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (1968) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977). He spent over fifty years writing his critically acclaimed eleven-volume series, The Story of Civilization (the later volumes written in conjunction with his wife, Ariel). A champion of human rights issues such as the brotherhood of man and social reform long before such issues were popular, Durant, through his writings, continues to educate and entertain readers the world over.

Durant, Ariel

Ariel Durant (1898-1981) was a Russian-born American researcher and writer and the coauthor of the eleven-volume Story of Civilization with her husband Will Durant. Ariel and Will Durant were jointly awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. Ariel was named the 1977 Woman of the Year by the city of Los Angeles.