The Lessons of History

The Lessons of History by Will Durant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book turned out to be an unexpected gem.

It is essentially a history of history, an overview of the patterns and trends historians have consitently encountered in their studies across time. The beginning chapter is fascinating in that the question is presented to the reader: How do you plan to benefit from reading history? Is it for mere time passing or to in turn benefit ourselves?

The book is split into chapters comprising of topics such as Religion, Economics and War over the course of history. The comments within each chapter are insightful and throught provoking. At points it is apprent the age of this book, the threat of Russian Communism is mentioned more than once in the book, and while this (as of writing) isnt a threat as it once was, there is no telling for man which way the future lies.

I felt a very deep understanding of human nature was coming out of this book, not necessarily from the study of the human mind, but from human action. I now understand this to be just as relevant as studying human nature from the mind itself. The harsh truths contained within this book on the subject or war and inequality provide a counterbalance to the ideals we always aspire to within our contemporary societies. Will we ever achieve a society wherein permanent peace and economic equality are present in completeness? Maybe not, maybe the Author is right – from the study of human nature over time, maybe these are impossible ideals to which we are naturally averse. Regardless of your opinions on these harsh truths, we need to hear them in order to better understand our situation and to learn from the mistakes of previous civlisations.

Very thought provoking read that I would recommend for any reader of history.

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