Books: HOW TO START A HISTORY

For the Durants, the writing of history is an art that requires more than facts or perspective; it demands eloquence. In evocative power, breadth—and breathlessness—the opening sentence of their new book is hard to beat:

HOW did it come about that a man born poor, losing his mother at birth and soon deserted by his father, afflicted with a painful and humiliating disease, left to wander for twelve years among alien cities and conflicting faiths, repudiated by society and civilization, repudiating Voltaire, Diderot, the Encyclopédi and the Age of Reason, driven from place to place as a dangerous rebel, suspected of crime...

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