Tag Archives: will durant

The Story of Civilization on Kindle

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I have a complete set (used) of Will and Ariel Durant’s Story of Civilization books. These books are some of the best histories I have ever read. Durant has a very engaging writing style, and part of the fun in reading these books is considering the time at which they were written. There are 11 books in the series. The first was published in 1935, the last in 1975. I have read the first three books in the series: Our Oriental Heritage (1935), The Life of Greece (1939), and Caesar and Christ (1944). Each has been a completely enjoyable (and educational) experience. But these are massive books, and while I would love to mark them up, I hesitate to write in the margins and make notes in them as I read because the books are so old.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been checking to see if these books (which I think are out of print in their hardcover editions) would be available on Kindle. But every time I’ve checked, there is only a link asking to “Tell the publisher you’d like to read this book on Kindle.” I clicked the link a long, long time ago and then pretty much forgot about it.

Last night, too hot to sleep at 2am, I started browsing Kindle books on Amazon–

(–and a minor digression here: how cool is it that at 2am on a very hot night, I can, from my iPad, wander around the virtual stacks of an enormous bookshelf, passing the time by browsing those virtual shelves and distracting myself from the heat. Instead of having to wait until a bookstore opens then next day.)

–and I decided to search for Durant’s Story of Civilization. But you are ahead of me. Sure enough, all 11 books are now available on Kindle. And if that wasn’t enough, when I checked the date that they became available, it was June 7, this past Tuesday. Had I checked on Monday and seen that they were not available, I might not have thought to check again for another year. I went ahead and purchased The Age of Faith, which is the 4th book in the series. Yes, I have it on my bookshelf, but it is also the longest book, being well over 1,000 pages and when I get around to reading it, it will be nice not to have to lug the extra weight around.

It will also be nice to highlight passages and take notes without having to worry about marking up that old first edition.

I highly recommend Durant’s series as an excellent introduction (or refresher) on world history. Those interested in the Kindle editions can find them here.

Best books of 2010

I read 19 books in 2010 which is a far cry from those early days in the mid-late-90s when I was reading 40 books a year. I know there are people out there who read a lot more and all I can say is: I’m jealous.

The year started out with the fascinating biography of C. M. Kornbluth by Mark Rich and ended (just 20 minutes ago) with the absolutely stunning All Clear by Connie Willis.

Here are my picks for the year’s best reads:

Blackout/All Clear is the finest time travel novel I’ve ever read, and I’ve read plenty of them. I’ll have more to say about the novel (and it is one novel, despite being split into two books) in a subsequent post. Suffice it to say for now that I was absolutely blown away by the scope of the novel, the historical details, and the wonderfully brilliant writing.

Robert Silverberg said he would never write an autobiography but Other Spaces, Other Times is awfully autobiographical–and brilliant. I enjoyed every minute of that read.

Caesar and Christ is the third volume of Will Durant’s “Story of Civilization” and it’s richly detailed picture of life in ancient Rome made for a wonderful summer read for me.

Doomsday Book blew me away and I could barely put it down. The ending was unforgettable and proved to me just how remarkable a writer Connie Willis is.

A few honorable mentions:

There was some pretty good short fiction this year, too, but I’ll write about that in a subsequent post.