Isaac Asimov on Will Durant’s Story of Civilization

I mentioned on Twitter today that I have about half a dozen ideas for blog posts based on my reading of Will Durant’s Story of Civilization series. If this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to skip. I won’t be offended.

I figured that before I had my say, I’d provide another perspective, that of Isaac Asimov, who as regular readers will know, is one of my favorite writers, particularly of nonfiction. I’ve read Asimov’s 3-volume autobiography countless times, and I recalled him mentioning Durant at one point. So I looked it up and here is what the Good Doctor had to say. I writing about the events of August 6, 1945, Asimov said,

We were getting ready to go, and I remember exactly what happened.

I was reading a copy of Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ, the third volume in his history of civilization and Gertrude was ironing some clothes.

The radio stopped its regular programming for an emergency bulletin: The United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima1.

More directly relevant to Durant’s series, however, was a footnote Asimov included on this passage:

I read each volume as it came out. After I had read the first one and heard he was planning a multivolume history–five volumes was the original plan–I felt worried. I knew he was in his forties and I carefully noted in my diary that I hoped he would live long enough to complete the set. He did.

I suspect that there are quite a few people out there who have similar worries over another popular writer of “alternate” history, the history of Westeros.

  1. From In Memory Yet Green by Isaac Asimov, Doubleday, 1979.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

3 thoughts on “Isaac Asimov on Will Durant’s Story of Civilization

  1. Man! You have really inspired me to go to my parents house and find my copies of these books.

  2. I need to find an extra day of the week to re-read the series…

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