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comment by Devac
Devac  ·  294 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 'bl00's Reviews #11: "The Story of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant

Apologies in advance if I'm even less coherent than usual. It has been an exhausting week and I'm writing this while riding on an overloaded train.

Would you recommend the book to someone who still overcomes his attitude to the high school history*? I had no problems with Plutarch's Parallel Lives and it's, in general, a pretty tall order for a book to bore me up to a point where I will just stop reading it altogether, but aside from a few cultures and periods in history that whole discipline is a tricky subject for me. With the history of Poland/Europe being my main focus in school, I'm undecided if I want to jump back into it.

Perhaps to rephrase it: in your opinion, should I change my attitude before reading or is there a good chance it will get me interested as I read? Your review and often mentions of the books you made throughout the year are close to selling it to me, I'm simply uncertain if I could appreciate it as I am now.

*) Lots of dates, facts that will never come up unless you compete in a trivia show but must be memorised regardless, even more dates, a bunch of names which sound too similar on purpose. I really hope that it's a much more interesting subject than that, same goes for mathematics after all. Tedium in high school, abstract goodies at the uni.

kleinbl00  ·  294 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So just to be clear: this isn't "a book" we're talking about.

I wouldn't start here. My primary reason for digging in is it's a grand survey across a broad period to fill in the holes that I normally would not focus on. Without this book I wouldn't focus on the "Dark Ages" for example and they're actually one of the most interesting periods. Of course, without this book I wouldn't focus on 18th century france and the fuckers spend about 3,000 pages on them.

Really, if I were to recommend one history book, based on what you're telling me, I'd go with Tony Judt's Postwar.

Devac  ·  294 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks! I'll check the Postwar next week or right after I'll visit my family. Durant is going on my reading list regardless. The Dark Ages are among those periods that always seemed like something that I would enjoy visiting from a different perspective than warfare. Just, again, it's one of those things that high school can somehow make boring. Your review did intrigue me enough to even ask the previous questions so kudos.

    So just to be clear: this isn't "a book" we're talking about.

I know, it was more of a mental shortcut on my part. Same way I call LotR or Feynman's Lectures as "a book" instead of something more appropriate.

kleinbl00  ·  294 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The Dark Ages are among those periods that always seemed like something that I would enjoy visiting from a different perspective than warfare.

I will freely admit to a blind spot here: I only speak English. I only read literature written in English, which if we're talking about the Middle Ages, means English literature, which of course heavily favors England.

That, personally, is tiresome to me. One of the things I did appreciate about Durant was that the English are a part of what's going on but they aren't assumed to be the center of the goddamn world like pretty much every other history I've ever read. With that caveat, here are some interesting movies and TV series (because they take less time) about the English at the center of the goddamn world:

- Wolf Hall.

Thomas Cromwell as the not bad guy. Couldn't get through the book. Tried. The fucking British drive me crazy most of the time but 6 hours of filmed entertainment kicks the shit out of 60 hours of tedious fucking reading. Plus Anne Bolyn is totally hot.

- A Man for All Seasons.

Thomas Cromwell as totes villain.

- The Lion in Winter.

Holy fuck. Kate Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, and introducing Sir Anthony Hopkins at like 22. Basically, "every dysfunctional family holiday" except "your mom" is played by Eleanor of Aquitaine, "your dad" is Henry II and your annoying brother is Richard the Lionheart.

- Kingdom of Heaven.

In which Saladin asses the British out of Jerusalem. Bear in mind that Ridley Scott hates muslims but he doesn't make that painfully obvious in this.

I know you understand these are "books", not "book." Keep in mind, though, that all of Lord of the Rings is about as long as two of five Game of Thrones books (LoTR is 455k words and Storm of Swords is 422k while Dance with Dragons is like 430k). The Durant books clock in at over 3 million words.

thenewgreen  ·  293 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I may be confusing t with just a conversation you and I had, but wasn't the Lion in Winter a Hubski film club selection years ago? I know I loved it. It's fucking crazy.

kleinbl00  ·  293 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Whoa. Good memory. Interestingly enough, Google only finds this:

But Hubski search finds this!