πŸ“š The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant


Buy here

This book popped up on my twitter feed from someone who may or may not be in the Irish mob (If you get this joke, hell yeah). After recognizing the book was 102 pages I gave it a go. This was the best part, 3-4 pg chapters on overarching themes throughout history of humankind. If you want to fully understand the approach/attempt the authors took, read the first chapter of the book, Hesitations. The following quote is how the chapter ends, and captures the tone perfectly.

It is a precarious enterprise, and only a fool would try to compress a hundred centuries into a hundred pages of hazardous conclusions. We proceed.

Oh, and they did proceed. The book is like a bingeworthy 26min/ep show on netflix. You eat chapters. There is something about the tone that reminds me of dry english humor mixed with intellect. I don’t know what it is exactly. It might be the fact that it was written in the 60’s, or written by a husband and wife, but I had not read the tone used on such topics like morals, character, race, religion, and war to name a few. The following is an example from the chapter Morals and History.

Morals are the rules by which a society exhorts (as laws are the rules by which it seeks to compel) its members and associations to behavior consistent with its order, security, and growth… A little knowledge of history stresses the variability of moral codes, and concludes that they are negligible because they differ in time and place, and sometimes contradict each other. A larger knowledge stresses the universality of moral codes, and concludes to their necessity.

This chapter captured the uniqueness of the book. I had not read about moral codes explicitly in a history text before. The way in which they explain the impact morals have had throughout modernity is something I found very enlightening. History is framed as if it is a living thing, and the people are still here with us in some manner. The time it took to read this compared to the takeaways from the book is a testament to its quality. I enjoyed it, and I hope you do as well.

#books #history #morals