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- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of the finest nonfiction books I've read in some time. A couple bullet points:
1. The writing is superb. The Durants (I credit the two) matured into a staggering competency with succinct, concise prose. Dig: this volume covers 1000 years of complicated, interdependent, poorly resourced history, culture, and aesthetic, and at roughly 1000 pages, they have the breathing room of a page a year. Yet I rarely felt important events or trends were being too quickly glossed over, nor did I feel anything was over-explored.
2. There is a crazy Western bias. I think this is a little more than grain of salt territory, that is, excusing them for the time and era of the book's production. Having studied so intimately the cultures and histories of the world, I would have expected a stand up scholar to reflect much less of his or her own bias, and yet tenets of Islam are unfairly derided while similar beliefs in Christianity are affectionately excused. This was a major fault, but, reader, with blinders on you'll progress happily.
3. The Kindle percentage tracker is obscene. The book basically ends at 65%, with the rest devoted to less than 1% of images, and then the rest index, bibliography, notes, etc. Around 55% you may feel exhaustion with the book, but if you continue the rewards are yours.
4. The history is dazzling. I am new to Middle Ages scholarship and was not expecting to venture into such a richly defined world as the one the Durants reveal. Their guidance is much appreciated, as the discursive, elliptical route we take from the fall of Rome's European stewardship through the rise of the Eastern Empire, and the development of Islam and Judaism, until we circle back to discuss primarily Western European development from about 600 to 1300, was easy to follow and seemed, to me, structurally inescapable. Additionally, any time you come across a section that holds your interest less than others--for me, the development of musical notation was far less captivating than Frederick II's papal wars--you know a new section is right around the corner. The length of the book is certainly difficult to cover, but it is highly doable.
This was my first Story of Civilization volume, and I hope to complete all 11. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book, as the Durants summarize the onset of the so-called "Dark Ages," refusing that appellation and its pejorative connotations:
"The Roman Empire had raised science, prosperity, and power to their ancient peaks. The decay of the Empire in the West, the growth of poverty and the spread of violence, necessitated some new ideal and hope to give men consolation in their suffering and courage in their toil: an age of power gave way to an age of faith. Not till wealth and pride should return in the Renaissance would reason reject faith, and abandon heaven for utopia. But if, thereafter, reason should fail, and science should find no answers, but should multiply knowledge and power without improving conscience or purpose; if all utopias should brutally collapse in the changeless abuse of the weak by the strong: then men would understand why once their ancestors, in the barbarism of those early Christian centuries, turned from science, knowledge , power, and pride, and took refuge for a thousand years in humble faith, hope, and charity."