Rousseau and Revolution : The Story of Civilization

  • by Will Durant, Ariel Durant
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • Series: The Story of Civilization
  • 57 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A History of Civilization in France, England, and Germany from 1756, and in the Remainder of Europe from 1715 to 1789
The Pulitzer Prize-winning volume on European civilization by acclaimed historians Will and Ariel Durant.
Rousseau and Revolution, the 10th volume of the Story of Civilization, ranges over a Europe in ferment, but centers on the passionate rebel-philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the great exponent of the romantic impulse toward self-exploration and social revolt, who contended with the great rationalist Voltaire for the mind of Europe. Rousseau condemned civilization as a disease, glorified the noble savage, proclaimed to the world with equal intensity his own love affairs and the natural rights of man, and became the patron saint of the revolution and the worldwide social upheavals of two centuries.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Long Lead Up to Revolution

This is the 10th book of the 11 book excellent, integrated history, Story of Civilization series. For my review of the series as a whole see my review of “Our Oriental Heritage”. Although this is not my favorite volumes it was pretty darn good. This volume starts with the seven year war, covers Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, Mozart, Samuel Johnson, the dynamics leading up to the French Revolution are set out. The volume ends as the revolution begins. Here the best and the worst of both Rousseau and Voltaire are discussed. The writing seems quite present day, and the influences of these two poles of modern liberalism on politics today are extraordinary.

The narration is excellent, capturing the author’s quirky humor and restrained passion. I recommend this series to anyone.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."

Excellent - A Journey Completed

Upon buying this audio book I immediately had a sense of betrayal. Grover Gardner is the voice of Will Durant not some dude with a voice deeper than Satan's in a scary movie!

But reservation changed to enjoyment, as the narrator truly gives the same performance as Grover Gardner, albeit a slightly deeper voice (to say the least). But he gave the subject matter every bit the reverence warranted. And he knows how to narrate! After the first 1/4 of the book, I ceased being distracted and began enjoying his narration.

This book is on the time just before the French Revolution. For semi-educated folks like myself, this book is really enlightening. After listening you truly see the French enlightenment for what it was and you recognize its impact on the American revolution (much beyond mere footnotes). You see the germination of the neoliberal disaster that has ensued over the last 50 years and you hear some of the philosophe (sp?) predicting this result...(ie. concentration of wealth etc.). You come away with a deep appreciation of the history of the time period. In a way only Will Durant can pull off - you feel yourself as part of the action during this remarkable time in human history.

Oh, and he does pull you back down and remind you that the typical lot in life for the average human being stunk! You are forever reminded that you are learning about a small minority of society. For example, the Durants are quite clear, the French Revolution was the revolution of the business class, not the proletariat.

For a brief time, 45 minutes to and from work, I lived in 18th century Europe. Of course, this is true of any book authored by Will Durant. And now, it's over. I've completed them all. Will and Ariel Durant's Story of Civilization represents two years of my life commuting to and from work. Upon completing this volume I can't help but be reminded of my own mortality. A chapter of my life is completed. Consider the final two paragraphs of this book,

"Forty years of happy association in the pursuit of history have come to an end. We dreamed of the day when we should write the last word of the last volume. Now that that day has come we know that we shall miss the absorbing purpose that gave meaning and direction to our lives.

We thank the reader who has been with us these many years for part or all of the long journey. We have ever been mindful of his presence. Now we take our leave and bid him farewell."

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Durant. You have forever changed my life. A chapter of my life has also come to a close. My understanding of what has occurred and what may occur is forever altered. In a country where the liberal arts and history no longer seem to warrant serious study by its citizens, you educated me more than you could have imagined when writing your series over a half century ago. May the next chapter of my life reflect the wisdom your spiritual gift gave me.

Just listen to the darn books'll teach ya what you didn't learn about history in high-school and college.

James A. Brannan
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- James A. Brannan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-17-2015
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.