Books: A Great March

ROUSSEAU AND REVOLUTION by Will and Ariel Durant. 1,091 pages. Simon & Schuster. $15.

After he had written the last line of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a labor that consumed almost 15 years, Edward Gibbon reached a melancholy conclusion: "The life of the historian must be short and precarious." In the final pages of this book, Will Durant, 81, and his wife Ariel, 69, reflect the same thought: "We know that a lifetime is but a moment in history, and that the historian's best is soon washed away."

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