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Will Durant - The Story of Civilization 01 - Our Oriental Heritage


version: unabridged
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read by: Alexander Adams

Book Description
First volume in The Story of Civilization traces the history of Egypt and the Middle East, India, China and Japan.

I. Our Oriental Heritage (1935)

This volume covers "The Orient." In 1935, this term referred to all of history east of Greece or earlier than Homer.
"Every chapter, every paragraph in this book will offend or amuse some patriotic or esoteric soul: the orthodox Jew will need all his ancestral patience to forgive the pages on Yahveh; the metaphysical Hindu will mourn this superficial scratching of Indian philosophy; The Chinese or Japanese sage will smile indulgently at these brief and inadequate selections from the wealth of Far Eastern literature and thought. ... Meanwhile a weary author may sympathize with Tai Tung, who in the thirteenth century issued his "History of Chinese Writing" with these words: "Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished." (p.ix)

1. The Establishment of Civilization
The Conditions of Civilization
The Economic Elements of Civilization
The Political Elements of Civilization
The Moral Elements of Civilization
The Mental Elements of Civilization
The Prehistoric Beginnings of Civilization
"The moulders of the worlds myths were unsuccessful husbands, for they agreed that woman was the source of all evil." (p.70)
2. The Near East
A Motley of Nations
"For barbarism is always around civilization, amid it and beneath it, ready to engulf it by arms, or mass migration, or unchecked fertility. Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat; it waits patiently for centuries to recover the territory it has lost." (p.265)
3. India and Her Neighbors
The Foundations of India
From Alexander to Aurangzeb
The Life of the People
The Paradise of the Gods
The Life of the Mind
The Literature of India
Indian Art
A Christian Epilogue
On the fall of India to the Moguls: "The bitter lesson that may be drawn from this tragedy is that eternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry." (p.463)
4. The Far East
The Age of the Philosophers
The Age of the Poets
The Age of the Artists
The People and the State
Revolution and Renewal
On China in 1935: "No victory of arms, or tyranny of alien finance, can long suppress a nation so rich in resources and vitality. The invader will lose funds or patience before the loins of China will lose virility; within a century China will have absorbed and civilized her conquerors, and will have learned all the technique of what transiently bears the name of modern industry; roads and communications will give her unity, economy and thrift will give her funds, and a strong government will give her order and peace." (p.823)
5. Japan
The Makers of Japan
The Political and Moral Foundations
The Mind and Art of Old Japan
The New Japan
On Japan in 1935: "By every historical precedent the next act will be war."

About the author
William James Durant (November 5, 1885 November 7, 1981) was an American philosopher, historian, and writer. He is best known for his authorship and co-authorship with his wife Ariel Durant of The Story of Civilization.
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Tags: Chinese, Durant, Heritage, these, Civilization