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  • The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

  • Written by: Will Durant
  • Narrated by: John Little
  • Length: 3 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)
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The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Written by: Will Durant
Narrated by: John Little
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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling historian and philosopher Will Durant devoted his entire life to studying the most significant eras, individuals, and achievements of human history. Here is a summation of Durant's work, as he presents the best of world history, from "The One Hundred Best Books for an Education" to "The Ten Greatest Thinkers," "The Ten Greatest Poets," "The Ten Peaks of Human Progress," and "Twelve Vital Dates in Human History." Filled with Durant's renowned wit, knowledge, and unique ability to explain events in simple and exciting terms, it is a concise liberal arts education.
©2003 John Little and the Estate of Will Durant; 2002 John Little, Monica Ariel Mihell, and William James Durant Easton (P)2003 The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.

What the critics say

"This compact work is a gem that elevates historical writing to the level of superb literature." (Booklist)
"[An] engaging, accessible book of essays...in prose peppered with biographical bon mots and excerpts of the world's loveliest poems. Lay folks especially will find this a delightful introduction to Durant's irrepressible style." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Humanity in a nutshell

Amazing analysis of the nature and the evolution of humankind. A positive perspective exploring and summarizing what we were, what we are, and the hope for what is possible.

Our shortcomings aside, we remain a jewel in this univers.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The bias is cringe-worthy

Although there’s valid reasoning behind the inclusions, they are clearly limited to a vastly western cultural perspective focused almost entirely around white males of European decent.

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extremely bias

the writer claims that his lists are universal by few mentions here and there ! ..... the book is from a westren (young) prospective neglecting massive cultures and contributions of Asia, middle east and Africa !

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    5 out of 5 stars
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#audible1 best History book

#audible1 will durant. One of the greatest thinkers of all time. find all the best leople to follow.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 2004-04-06

Puzzled

We purchased this title thinking it would be thought provoking and spur conversation regarding who was/was not included in each list. It was quickly apparent that the author was not modern and did not write in a lively manner. Granted, his essays were intended to be read rather than heard, but the rambling definitions were tedious. If you are unfamiliar with this author's work (as we were), we strongly suggest that you read some of the essays before buying the audio file. Better to discover his prejudices at the local library than after spending $$ on an antiquated world view.

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39 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Ted
  • 2006-03-25

Too Fast

Whilst the content was interesting, the narrator read way too fast. I could not absorb much of the content. As a result I did not enjoy the book. This is the first time I have had this issue with audio books. From now on I will always listen to sample before purchase.

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29 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • RAC
  • 2004-10-31

Materialism and the human mind reign supreme!

Ironically, I purchased this book because of the review that I read online. In this review the author of this book, Will Durant, was referred to as having an "old world view". I was hoping that this referred to a more classical view of mankind, his origins, morality and society, however, it did not. From my perspective, this point of view is one of materialism taken to the extreme. Decidedly modern, with a five senses view of existence, with the human mind reigning supreme as the ultimate discerner of truth, yet being nothing more than that of an evolved animal. No room for higher consciousness, spirituality, or anything for that matter, beyond what we can see, touch, feel, and most importantly, think of. I recommend that you investigate the author before investing your money, and most importantly, your time into this audio book.

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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Randall Key
  • 2007-07-05

He can do better!

Many on the list are antiquated. And the lists are read as quickly as the reasons for his choice. In some categories it's like hearing a hone book read. Durant does better on his history of the philosophers. In this book He leaves out all of the religious leaders on a purpose that I don't understand. Most of which held more sway, good and bad, than any of the others on a list. I'll order another from Durant just because he has been so good in the past. But I could have skipped this one and not lost sleep.

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17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Arthur Pendragon
  • 2016-02-07

Great Summary

If you could sum up The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time in three words, what would they be?

Overview. Fascinating. Inspiring.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time?

The entire book was exceptional.

Which character – as performed by John Little – was your favorite?

Too difficult to choose.

Any additional comments?

This book is supposed to be an overview, so the reviews that criticize this book as being "too fast" do not seem to be taking in to account the very objective of this book in that it is meant to be a summary. This book is well worth the read, as are the other books by Will Durant. I highly recommend them.

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14 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Milton
  • 2012-06-22

Kinda like Wagner " not as bad as it sounds"

I bought this dispite the negative reviews. I am a total Durant fan. Read the History of the World, Yup that one.The first bit is great and engrossing, 100 greatest books does not make a great read. This might be better in hardcover. But have been through it twice and will plunge in again. I prefer books good for read after read, this qualifies , but you better like Durant.

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12 people found this helpful

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  • Knott Now
  • 2015-03-10

A "Greatest Hits" of History

This was my introduction to Will Durant. The writing is spectacular. The language at times is almost poetic and I felt the speed at which the text was read was a bit fast. It is short but meaty. I highly recommend it; you will find yourself skipping back a few times to fully enjoy the prose.

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10 people found this helpful

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  • Douglas
  • 2011-09-19

Incomplete

What would have made The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time better?

This is, as I understand, an incomplete work of Durant, and it is mostly a big disappointment. For the most part, it is a list of antiquated works put forth as the basis for a fundamental education. No kicks against his list, except that a lot of it was rather obvious and there is very little expansion on the whys of his picks. Begin elsewhere with Durant.

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6 people found this helpful

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  • Ray
  • 2015-08-08

INDIGESTIBLE

Too much to digest at the reader's pace. Some interesting ideas, but not worth the time.

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5 people found this helpful

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  • Temisan
  • 2016-02-20

Mind changing

Really enjoyed it, Loved it, would listen to it again when i habe the chance to, will definitely recommend it to a friend

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  • Herman
  • 2024-01-14

Subjective, opinionated, not so well informed

Heard a lot about this book. The author makes very big subjective judgments. Basically a list of his favourite authors, personal ideas, and axes to grind masquerading as an authoritative list.

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  • José DESGRIS
  • 2021-10-29

Why so few can defend such culture?

The book is dynamically narrated, aligning with the rhythm of various thoughts, good ideas and historical references given.

Lists of the greatest minds as well as facts about them are described.

A question I might ask in our modern ages is the following : "why so few can meet and talk about such knowledge? "

A point of view could be that it is hard to learn about the greatest minds of all times.

Another that we live in a society that does not believe.

Or we could simply say that having a heart to heart dialog today is hard.

You need to study this book like me and create your own liberty of talking about it.

Regards,

José Desgris from 🇫🇷

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