A Quick Guide to Reading Will Durant’s The Story Of Civilization.

Thinking about reading the whole 11 volume of The Story of Civilization series by Will Durant? Here is my guide to the series. Hopefully some of these reviews can help you decide whether it’s a challenge worthy of your time or not; or if you choose to read only part of the series which ones to focus on.

This guide is being updated as I work my way through the series, one book at the time. The project is going to continue to 2028.

Volume 1: Our Oriental Heritage pt. 1
Covers: The economical, political, mental and moral elements needed for the establishment of civilization.
Volume 1: Our Oriental Heritage pt. 2
Covers: Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc.
High points: The accounts of the religious beliefs in the different civilizations fascinated me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we can still find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.
Volume 1: Our Oriental Heritage pt. 3
Covers: All things India.
High points: The philosophy and the important texts of India: The Gita, The Upanishads. Gandhi, the cast system and the spiritual practices of yoga.
Volume 1: Our Oriental Heritage pt. 4
Covers: Japanese and Chinese civilization. Gives a good introduction to Confucianism.
High points: Chinese writing, the philosophy (Taoism and Confucianism).
Low point: Porcelain…Porcelain…Porcelain.
Volume 2: The Life of Greece
Covers: The Greek world in all it’s aspects.
High points: The philosophers and scientists that put down the foundation to western thought. The line-up of people in this book is impressive: Pericles, Diogenes, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Schliemann, (excavated Troy), Hippocrates and the list just goes on. I’m in awe of the achievements of Greek Civilization.
Volume 3: Caesar and Christ
Covers: The Roman empire and the raise of christianity
High points: The megalomaniac leaders (Nero and Caligula), The Stoics (Marcus Aurelius and Seneca).
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