Part 1 - Reading History Backwards

EducationErnest ClementComment

Nearly 40 years ago, as an enticement for joining the Book of the Month Club, I received the magisterial history series, The Story of Civilization, in eleven volumes, by Will and Ariel Durant. As a young man I read volume eleven, The Age of Napoleon (1975), and reread the same years later. Now, retired from my public career and with leisure to spare, I am reading the entire series backwards, starting with volume ten. And then I propose to reread the whole series forwards, maybe then to gain a firm sense of the sweep of history, albeit with a decided emphasis on the civilization of the West that has deposited me here in the South of our United States. The quote above is from the fourth volume, which covers the medieval civilizations – Christian, Islamic, and Judaic  - from A.D. 325 to 1300. The whole series is an incomparable gift of labor and love to humanity that I cannot imagine will ever be repeated.