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The Age of Faith (Anglais) Cassette – octobre 2000

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Book by Durant Will

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Amazon.com: 14 commentaires
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Grand Story 19 août 2001
Par Mark Edward Bachmann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Cassette
Will Durant wrote like a force of nature, and this book is a fine expression of his power. The body of his life's work seems to have been an effort, albeit incomplete, to cover the entire history of mankind, and each individual volume covers it's time frame by sweeping through every aspect of civilization: politics, military affairs, economics, science, art, philosophy, religion, literature, architecture, and social customs. The Age of Faith opens with the death of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 337 and carries up through around the 14th century, the dawn of what has come to be known as the Renaissance. As implied by the title of this volume, it was the flowering of the three great Western religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - which dominates the story, and Durant devotes significant attention to all three, even though the birth of "Christendom" ultimately emerges as the defining event of the era. The charm of Durant's writing is the passionate love affair he seems to have had with humankind through all times and in all of it's manifestations. While he doesn't minimize the unspeakable brutalities that recur, he writes with an exuberant reverence for the spiritual and intellectual industry that he finds in every facet of human development. Like any competent historian, he also dispels historical stereotypes, and there is no real sense of a "Dark Age" at any point during this period despite Durant's occasional use of the term. However, what does become clear is that until late in the period, it was Islam, rather than Christianity, that achieved the most advanced civilization of medieval times. For readers, such as myself, who are largely ignorant of Islam, the lengthy chapters devoted to Muslim culture may be the most informative and interesting in the book. The Jews, who were scattered and lacked political or military power, are portrayed as bringing a degree of cohesion to European and Eur-Asian development, maintaining a cultural identity of their own, while making remarkable contributions, intellectually and economically, to the dominant cultures within which they found themselves. Inevitably the structure of a book like this is a bit chaotic. There's little chronology to it, and the author jumps from one geographic region and one topic to another in no particular pattern. The book closes with an entire chapter devoted to Dante, in whose writing and life Durant sees both the quintessence of the mediaeval spirit a bridge to the Renaissance. The book's limitations are probably inherent in the author's very purpose, since by covering everything, he's forced by the constraints of space to gloss over much. Even so, The Age of Faith extends over a thousand pages. For readers, again such as myself, who are primarily interested in the political history of the period, the lavish attention paid to cultural topics - e.g., page-long excerpts from obscure Islamic poems, or breathless and detailed descriptions of a particular Byzantine mosaic or a gargoyle on the wall of a French cathedral - are distracting and at times annoying in light of the cursory focus given to weightier matters. Allowing for all this, however, this is a fine book from an extraordinarily gifted writer, and I highly recommend it.
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
You are reading the best! 9 février 2004
Par Robert Wynkoop - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I'm not kidding, it took me almost a year read this book. It is at once, both intriguing and, how can I put this gently, boring. Before you zap me with a negative rating, let me explain. What Durant is attempting to do in writing the story of civilization is incredible. I just do not know of anyone who has come close to accomplishing what Durant (and his wife, Ariel) have done. But when one attempts to cover just a vast subject, it is difficult to communicate with clarity the sub-total of human achievement.
For instance, his discussion of the rise of Islam was both interesting and difficult to read. Intriguing because we see that the conflict between Islam and the Christian west has antecedents that go back over a thousand years. I discovered that it was nip and tuck whether or not the West was going to be able to defend Europe from Moslem conquest. The current tension between radical Islam and the West is only the latest chapter in a long and bloody struggle; but our inability to grasp Arabic names, geography and history, makes this reading difficult. Another area of difficulty was his discussion on medieval architecture. Just how does one communicate form in words that does the form justice? Durant gets and A for effort, but, once again, I had to plow my way through sections like these.
Is it worth the read? You bet. What we see here is the drama of human achievement. From the death and destruction that followed the fall of the Imperial Rome to the civilizing of a continent, Durant shows us the triumph of the human spirit. Durant also shows us the legacy of Roman law, language and civilization on the West. Rather than being a sharp demarcation between ancient Rome and the middle ages, we see the survival of Roman culture, law and institutions as they were morphed by medieval culture. Oh, by the way, the prose is magnificant. I found myself underlying sentence after sentence and reading them to my wife,friends or anybody else who would listen.
So after almost a year and 1100 pages, I finally completed the book. Lets see, volume five is next, The Renaissance. Another 700 pages. Um. I think I'll take a break and read some light fiction first.
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Engrossing... 5 avril 2000
Par oamaz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Although it is obvoius that to squeeze 7 centuries of history of Europe and Asia Minor into 1 volume (although very thick) is a task for an ingenious historian, to make this volume engrossing and even fascinating - is hardly achievable. But Mr. Durant's talent is unsurpassed: the book contains summary of all important events - military and religeous, cultural and social - as well as biographies of legendary personae of the times we used to call the Dark Ages. But the language of the book and the details it provides are not just dry facts (which makes many other similar compilations boring and easily forgettable), the author makes you feel and understand the customs and rites of the epoch, its way of dressing, food, family relations..., by drawing parallels with our times. I have read quite a few books on history of that period, and by far, this book, employing a special scientific approach, is the best, although written several decades ago: it throbbs with the echo of life of centuries long past.
18 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Shinning Star of American Historians 29 janvier 2002
Par Scott McCrea - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Durant and his wife--who co-wrote all of the volumes although she didn't get credit until Volume 7, "The Age of Reason Begins") are simply the greatest writers of history since Gibbon.
The prose is engrossing, engaging, spectacular, pithy, witty, warm, inviting--in short, I am exhausting the vocabulary of praise for them. I read these volumes, especially this one, over and over again for the sheer joy of the prose.
Durant covers the period from the year 300 until 1300, usually considered the Middle Ages in the West. He covers so much material it is simply astounding and impossible to aborb in ten readings. This book is one for a lifetime of reading.
The strengths are in the cultural area--particular the coverage of writers. Durant was an academic specializing in philosophy so his coverage of subject as overwhelmingly dull as the Scholastic Philosophers makes it come alive. He gives summaries of dozens of writers and the major literary movements in Europe, the Middle East and Islam.
The coverage Islam is extensive but contains the word "Mohammadan" to describe muslims. This is understandably offensive to muslims because it implies whorship of Mohammad. However, Durant is no bigot, the word was simply the fashion when the book was written, much as the word "negro" was in fashion at the same period of time (1950). Muslim readers should not be put off by this. His treatment of your faith and civilization is honest, fair and free of prejudice.
The primary weaknesses of the book (and the entire series) is in the military area. Durant admits his relative lack of interest in this area and relies on secondary sources. He is too credulous of ancient historians--often printing fantastic figures for soldiers and casualties; e.g. he states that the militia for the city of Bruges was 189,000 when the entire town could not have had more than 50,000 inhabitants! He has little grasp of military science and falls back on the conclusion of others with little of the critical examination most every other subject receives at his hands. This is a minor quibble and will probably only be noticeable by those who are avid scholars of military history.
There are, of course, many mistakes--impossible to avoid in a book over 1000 pages of text covering 1000 years, three continents, and three religions.
All minor quibbles compared to the thrill of one of America's greatest writers. Sadly, the Durants are given short shrift by critics and scholars.
As I said, read this book for a lifetime. I have been doing so for fifteen years and I continually learn new things.
In his eleven volumes Mr. and Mrs. Durant come up with a wonderful history of Western Civilization that is simply stunning in its achievement and unflagging level accomplishment for a work that began in 1930 and wasn't completed until 1975.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Gargantuan in Size and Intellect...Down to the Marrow" 21 juillet 2001
Par Johannes Platonicus - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Covering the fantastic weight of medieval history (325-1300 A.D.) from Julian the Apostate to Dante, Will Durant with excessive force and candor handles the decline of a classical age growing into the gloom of the dark ages only to sprout again into a post-adolescent Europe characterized by the emergence of gothic architecture, philosophy and letters, poetry and science, all shrouded by the spiritual jurisprudence of a Christendom at its climax. However, the voluminous expanse of this work not only necessitates the primary features of European civilization, both sacred and profane, but adds to the breadth and timeless lore of it the nature and origin of Islamic and medieval Jewish culture...ultimately constituting the "Age of Faith."
The scope of this work is treated in five books: The Byzantine Zenith (325-565 A.D.), which handles the downfall of paganism, the triumph of the barbarians, the progress of christianity, Europe (western) in its nascent form, the reign of Justinian - his successes and failures, Byzantine civilization - its extent and wealth, science and philosophy, literature and art, closing with an elaborate sketch of Persian royalty and society with the advent of the Arab conquest; book two, Islamic Civilization (569-1258 A.D.), beginning with Mohammed describing his moral character and military prowess which ultimately culminated into the conquest of a vast domain, the Koran - its influence, form, creed, and ethics, the successors (caliphs and emirs) to the "Sword of Islam", the nature of Islamic government, economy, and people, the thought and art of Islam, finishing with its granduer and decline; book three, Judaic Civilization (135-1300 A.D.) - the exiles and makers of the Talmud, and the character of the medieval Jew; Book four, the Dark Ages (566-1095 A.D.), covers the rise of Byzantine, the birth of Russia, the decline of the west, the rise of the north, christianity in a state of confilct, and the origins and rise of fuedalism and chivalry; book five, the Climax of Christianity (1095-1300 A.D.) handles the victories and defeats of the Crusades, the economic recovery of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church, the inquisition, the rise of monasticism, the morals and manners of Christian Europe, and finaly to its flowering...the resurrection of philosophy and the arts.
To undertake such a vast task with so many factors and outcomes throughout such a long period of time - which customarily was characterized by a plethora of follies and misfortunes with the occasional rise and fall of greatness and prosperity - is without a doubt challenging if not wholly impossible to acheive without making some generalizations...but if anyone has ever penetrated and colored the principle aspects of the "Age of Faith" with a common intellect and driving sincerity it is unmistakebly Will Durant.
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