Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Durant, Will (2002): The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

What is it about?

In the book, the author lists and briefly describes (in a very peculiar style) what are according to his assessment the peaks of human achievement in terms of thinkers, poets, educational books, human progress and world events.

The book is only a bit over 100 pages long, and therefore the treatment within each of the categories is quite condensed.

Was it good?

To be honest, I must say that based on the title of the book, I expected substantially more. Of the main chapters, in my opinion only the The Ten "Greatest" Thinkers (sic.)  really lived up to the title. All the rest was -- again, in my opinion -- somewhat besides the point. For example, I certainly would not include poetry in this kind of a book, and listing a number of dates of death under Twelve Vital Dates in World History was a bit surprising.

Furthermore, I didn't really appreciate the nearly poetry-like writing style of the author -- its distinctive lyrical tone distracted me from the subject matter under discussion.

The main take-away for me?

It's hard to say what would be a take-away here when both the writing style and some of the content choices distracted me from a coherent train of thought that would run throughout the book. Perhaps there is a lesson for me with regard to "how not to write".

Who should read the book?

Well, I can't really recommend the book. Perhaps if one appreciates poetry and lyrical writing, there might be something to enjoy here.

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