Books: History as a River

THE RENAISSANCE (776 pp.)—Will Durant—Simon & Schuster ($7.50).

The notion of writing a history of civilization first occurred to Will Durant in Damascus in 1912. He had come down with dysentery and had dredged out of his well-stocked memory the recollection that famed Historian Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-62) had died of the same disease* in the same city. What Buckle had never lived to do, 27-year-old Will Durant decided to do himself some day.

Several other occupations—teacher, anarchist fellow-traveler, popularizer of philosophy—claimed Will Durant's attention first. But last week, sitting in his comfortable Hollywood home, just a step from his own swimming pool,...

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