The Age of Reason Begins : The Story of Civilization

  • by Will Durant, Ariel Durant
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • Series: The Story of Civilization
  • 34 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This seventh volume of Will and Ariel Durant's renowned Story of Civilization chronicles the history of European civilization from 1558 to 1648.
The Age of Reason Begins brings together a fascinating network of stories in the discussion of the bumpy road toward the Enlightenment. This is the age of great monarchs and greater artists - on the one hand, Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and Henry IV of France; on the other, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne, and Rembrandt. It also encompasses the heyday of Francis Bacon, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, and Descartes, the fathers of modern science and philosophy. But it is equally an age of extreme violence, a moment in which all Europe was embroiled in the horrible Thirty Years' War - in some respects, the real first world war. This chapter in cultural history is one that can't be missed.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Mostly 30 Years of War, but Reason bests War

See my review of Volume I for comments of the series.
This is book seven of Durant’s The Story of Civilization.
This, like the other volumes of this series, is wonderful. It is beautifully written, integrated history of Europe over the period between 1559 and 1648. Notwithstanding the title, this only touches on the age of reason at the very end of the volume. Most of the text is dedicated to the struggles in England and the Thirty Years War. The details of war, other than the reasons for the war and the peace, are historical, but not intensely interesting (unless you are really into war). Thus, I did not enjoy this book as much as most of the others, nevertheless the sections on Shakespeare and Bacon, and the very end which covers Galileo and Descartes was fantastic and well worth the 30 years of warfare.

The integrated history attempts to cover all aspects of society in the period, living conditions, industries and commerce, crafts, arts, politics, economics, religion, fads, leaders, and spirit. There are dates, but that is not what it is about. The writing is targeted at general readers with an interest in history, and is a very easy listen.

The narration is clear and powerful and erudite.

I highly recommend this series – at least twice (separated by 10 years). This is my third time.
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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."

Revel in Reason

The "Age of Reason" is the 7th volume of Will and Ariel Durant's unsurpassed, yet unsuccessful, effort to write the history of the world's civilization, an 11-volume set collectively called "The Story of Civilization." They published the first volume, "Our Oriental Heritage," in 1935, and their last volume, "The Age of Napoleon," in 1975, thus covering history through 1815.

I must admit here that this is the first volume I bought and read. "The Age of Reason" covers the history of Europe and the Near East from around 1560 until about 1650. The volume contains sections on England and its leaders Queen Elizabeth, Mary, Queen of Scots, James VI and I; on Elizabethan England, the summons to reason from superstition, the rise and fall of Francis Bacon, the religious cauldron, Puritans and the theatre; and writers such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, John Donne, Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh and Ben Jonson. I also found particularly interesting sections on the birth of opera and the coming of the Baroque in Italy; the golden age of Spanish literature in Cervantes and Calderon, of Spanish art in El Greco; France and Montaigne, Good King Henry IV and Cardinal Richelieu; the revolt of the Netherlands and Flemish artists Rubens and Rembrandt; Holy Russia and Boris Godunov; the Turks and the decline of the Sultan; science in the age of Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler; and, the rebirth of philosophy with the rationalists like Bacon and Rene Descartes.

I found the writing is astonishingly good and intriguing for a historical book. I have already purchased and listened to 3/4 of Book 8 on "The Age of Louis XIV."
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- W Perry Hall "One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-23-2015
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.