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- Publié sur Amazon.com
I just read this book and it is a quick, easy, read. I think this book is an excellent way to develop perspective, either as a high school or college student, or for someone older who wants to more rigorously develop his or her world-view. The model of this book is a "classical education", along the lines of the recently re-released Harvard 5-foot bookshelf. Most of the people critical of this publication completely missed the point. Many times in the essays Will Durant specifically says that these are merely his opinions, and there are many other educated people out there with different opinions. These essays are intended as a STARTING place to educate yourself and he specifically suggests that you should read further and along your specific lines of interest. (The author also suggests on page 65 that as a college graduate, you might be ready to BEGIN your education with his suggested reading.) Anyone who complains that such-and-such was "rated" ahead of someone else [that they like], or that someone they revere was left off the "top 10" (because most likely they were not left out of the book completely, the author drops a lot of names of people who should be highly considered) just completely didn't understand this book.
However, there is one huge problem with this book. I didn't realize it when I started the book (I am not really aware of who Will Durant was) but even though the publication date is 2002, nothing in this book is recent. Actually, Mr. Durant died 25 years ago and I suspect that most or all these essays were written long before then. Unfortunately Mr. Little, the compiler, does not tell us when these essays were written. This becomes painfully obvious when you get to the list of suggested reading. To start off there are a lot of general overview books on history, science (physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, etc.), art, music, psychology and health. I looked most of these books up on Amazon and all the ones I saw were close to 75 years old (some had been re-released). I find it completely shocking that a publisher would print such an out-of-date book under the guise of a new publication. I mean, A LOT HAS CHANGED IN 75 YEARS, especially in the sciences.
I know that in the last few years specifically there have been some very highly regarded books on the history of Art and on World War I (a glowing but out-of-date suggestion was specifically mentioned on page 80) and Karen Armstrong published several good books on the western religions. One of his suggested readings, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbon; might still be relevant even though it is quite old, but I am very suspicious of the rest of the suggested overview readings. There are quite a number of translated works, and for most of them I am sure there are more recent translations. Sometimes he suggests a specific translation, it would be up to you to decide if a more recent translation would be better. That said, presented is an excellent system for "Since we wish to have orderly minds, and avoid the chaos of desultory reading, we shall want to begin at the beginning...we want it in such an order that the knowledge we win may fall into logical sequence in our memories, and give us at last that full perspective which is the source and summit of understanding."
Additionally, almost exclusively this books focuses on pre-20th century. I think this is completely understandable and acceptable, but if you are only interested in the 20th century then this book is not for you. I took two stars off for these out-of-date suggestions, no reference to the acutal dates the essays were written and no revised (alternative) suggested reading list. Now it is up to you, the reader, to substitute the suggested readings for modern, up-to-date, versions and start reading.