For recent reviews of Will Durant's new book Heroes of History, please following the link here.

For recent reviews of the new Will Durant book The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, please following the link here.

Will Durant produced a towering creation with his 11-volume "Story of Civilization" and his legacy will grow with the years. Will and Ariel Durant were explorers and discoverers who approached each phase of history as if it were new terrain. They prized history, but never got lost in it. Will made no attempt to hide his playfulness and was a great fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two years ago he took my wife and me to a Dodger game. There were easily 45,000 people there, and it struck me that Will Durant was the only man in the ball park in a stiff white shirt, black tie and black suit. He had this scorecard on his lap and he kept mumbling about what the players were doing wrong. The mumbling got louder and louder. I said, "Will, how is it you never got into baseball management?" And Will said, "I didn’t have the right salivary glands – ever see how often those guys spit in the ballpark?" I then asked, "Will, how old are you – 94 or 95?" "I’m 94," Durant replied, with a twinkle in his eye, "do you think I’d be doing something as frivolous as this if I were 95?"

-- Norman Cousins, former editor of Saturday Review

Will and Ariel Durant have been together for 65 years of affection, work, debate, collaboration and comradeship. They are living proof that love is a civilizing impulse and an enduring one, provided lovers are kept busy, creative and individual. The great quality of Will Durant’s writing style is his humane and humanizing approach to the ideas and experiences of the past. As Ariel came from pupil to associate to full collaborator, she contributed her special understanding and ideals. Both were widely and deeply read, ingenious and persuasive synthesizers. But for each and in their collaboration, bookish research was not enough. They validated their judgments and portraits of historical personages against their own experiences in the turbulent world of the first half of the twentieth century. Though their hours of work were long and hard, Will never lost his interest and social ardor. He worked for a declaration of interdependence of religious and racial groups in 1944, an early effort at practical ecumenism, equality and practical democracy. From their hilltop Hollywood home, he sent letters to Presidents, kept contact with refugee writers such as Thomas Mann and Lion Feuchtwanger. Ariel and Will traveled, refreshing and replenishing themselves for the later volumes of The Story of Civilization. The success of that massive, universal history inevitably brought some sour and punitive responses from some academics, resentful of the style and eloquence, the wit and compelling narrative of the work. Will and Ariel faced their antagonists with far more respect and consideration than they received. But the fact is that the criticisms were mainly misdirected. The Durants were attacked for not doing what they specifically said they weren’t going to do. Their function was not original scholarship but the synthesizing in human terms and in story form of the vast mural of cultural and social history. In the end, the fads of historical scientism have given way and the arrogance of those who think they possess history and philosophy merely because they are specialists seem very hollow. The consensus of the common reader became increasingly the critical verdict. The work of the Durants comes out a long tradition of the art of history writing and the need to bring the pursuits and habits of philosophy to all. To read Will Durant’s development as a philosopher, to read Ariel’s fierce and committed debates with him on the Renaissance and the Reformation, to read of their love, is, for me, thought-provoking and in the deepest sense moving. They are my teachers as they have taught so many others.

Robert Kirsch, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

I am highly pleased to join your most faithful readers and friends in all good wishes for your many contributions to the clarification and interpretation of the World of History. I have been spending my odd moments, when I have any, reading your history books, and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of them.

Harry S. Truman

There are certain passages [in Will Durant’s writings] which may well bear comparison for sheer literary power with anything in contemporary literature.

New York Herald Tribune

I am glad you have had the recognition you richly deserve – best wishes for its continuance, since it is that of great public service and also especially so at such a reactionary period as we’re going through.

John Dewey

Durant was a historian, but so erudite were his observations of the past and so astute his applications of the past to the present that he was regarded as a major philosopher of this century.

United Press International

I have just finished Caesar and Christ. What a book! It is not only the best thing you have ever done yourself; it is the best piece of historical synthesis ever done by an American. I can imagine no improvement in it. It is clearly and beautifully written, and it shows a hard common sense in every line. I have never read any book which left me better contented.

H.L. Mencken

There are few people whom I have ever known for whom I have a higher regard and a greater appreciation [than Will Durant]. I’d rather have written his book on The Story of Philosophy than to have done anything or everything that I ever did.

Clarence Darrow

The greatest historians of our time, who have lived their own fascinating true-life "love story" since she was his 15-year old student, Los Angeles – recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, they have produced 11 best-selling masterworks of history in 40 years… "spanning the birth of man and following his progress right up till the French Revolution" …and recently completed (at ages 90 and 77) their final classic, "The Age of Napoleon." They were married in City Hall, he carrying a briefcase swollen with books on philosophy and she holding her roller skates. Their marriage became a working literary partnership – in the early years she was secretary, researcher, assistant and editor – that led eventually, by volume 7 of the "Civilization" series, to co-authorship. They have produced a total of seven books together, and Mr. Durant alone has written 17. His The Story of Philosophy has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1928 and has sold more than 3 million copies in 19 languages, according to Simon & Schuster, his publisher.

The New York Times, Nov. 6, 1975

I shall never forget that aphorism of yours "To believe in nothing and worship everything." That really was an aphorism worthy of Chuang-tzu himself and it sank into my mind and doubtless will suddenly leak out like a fish when I’m lecturing somewhere. Never to my dying day shall I forget it!

John Cowper Powys

I was telling you all away back days ago about my going with Charlie Chaplin to hear a debate between Will Durant, that wrote the wonderful book, The Story of Philosophy. He is just one of the finest fellows you ever met. He made the same trip across Siberia into Russia that I made. He was debating an Englishman named Starchey. This Starchey was a Bolshevik, but he was very fair in his talk, and it was a brilliant thing to hear.

Will Rogers

Your prose cries to be read out loud!

Dick Simon (Simon and Schuster)

Our century has produced no more stupendous event than the Durants’ narration of the story of mankind.

Edward E. Fitzgerald, President and chief operating officer of the Book of the Month Club

The best education a student of humanities could have would be to curl up in their parent’s library with the Durant’s famous The Story of Civilization.

John Tunney, Former California senator

I could not but welcome this opportunity to tell you of my long-standing admiration for you and for the career that has made you a household word across America. Your interpretation of the progress of civilization has introduced not only countless youngsters, but many adults to the history of other times, other peoples, and celebrated past events, and has enriched the lives of your fellow citizens, and indeed of men and women throughout the world, for whom your name and that of Mrs. Durant will always symbolize an exciting adventure into the past. And since that past is the prologue to the future, your works have a timeless quality and a meaning that will endure for generations to come.

Richard M. Nixon

Will Durant has taken trouble in this book [The Case For India], trouble to know. The miserable conditions of the country he has seen with his own eyes, but, what is rare with most tourists, he has explored the history of our misfortune. Will Durant treated us with the respect due to human beings. I noticed in his book a poignant note of pain at the suffering and indignity of the people who are not his kindred, an indignant desire to be just to the defeated race. I know that the author will have small chance to reward in popularity from his readers but he, I am sure, has his noble compensation in upholding the best tradition of the West in its championship of freedom and fair play.

Rabindranath Tagore

I am absolutely thrilled to have the book, which is wonderful for me now and will be wonderful for the children later on. Thank you so very much.

Laurence Olivier

Your contributions over these years to man's understanding of history and of himself has given us all the perspective, the courage, and the confidence, we and future generations will need to face the future creatively and constructively.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

You are truly one of America's greatest. With your wonderful wife Ariel, you make a team of which we Americans are deeply proud.

Margaret Chase Smith
United States Senator from Maine

I know that you and Mrs. Durant have explored many of the struggles between chaos and order that have occupied men since the beginning of time. You know, as well as any man or woman, the tangled web or rights and wrongs that emerges from those struggles. The current torment in our cities is no different. I am greatly strengthened by your words…

Lyndon B. Johnson