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This is the 8th 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”.
This is one of the most enjoyable and interesting books of the series. It blends art and philosophy, war and commerce, politics and finance into an enlightening whole. The author gives well balanced portrayals of many of the pivotal figures of the time. The long section on Leibniz was particularly fascinating as Leibniz is often overlooked.
This book starts and ends with the long life of Louis XIV (1643-1715), and he plays a large part in the narrative, but the action is all replayed several times viewed from France, England, Russia, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. This repetition of events from different points of view is one of the great things about this book and this series.
The narration is superb, projecting the material with clarity and nuance, including well representing the author’s subtle and wry humor.
This is not quite my favorite book of this series, but it is one of the best.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
The Story of Civilization is a fascinating read. This book, in particular, shed extensive light on a period not necessarily clear to non-Europeans. And none of the histories I've read / listened to by far have had the courage the Durants have to create a digestible but inclusive series of history.
The Day-long duration is kind of intimidating and unappetizing, but when you started listening, it sinks in very fast and you soon realize you've gone through quite a number of hours just by listening to the book. However, the length also means quite a number of the stories told would inevitably be forgotten during the listen, so it's worth repeating the book several times.