The Story of Civilization on Kindle

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I have a complete set (used) of Will and Ariel Durant’s Story of Civilization books. These books are some of the best histories I have ever read. Durant has a very engaging writing style, and part of the fun in reading these books is considering the time at which they were written. There are 11 books in the series. The first was published in 1935, the last in 1975. I have read the first three books in the series: Our Oriental Heritage (1935), The Life of Greece (1939), and Caesar and Christ (1944). Each has been a completely enjoyable (and educational) experience. But these are massive books, and while I would love to mark them up, I hesitate to write in the margins and make notes in them as I read because the books are so old.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been checking to see if these books (which I think are out of print in their hardcover editions) would be available on Kindle. But every time I’ve checked, there is only a link asking to “Tell the publisher you’d like to read this book on Kindle.” I clicked the link a long, long time ago and then pretty much forgot about it.

Last night, too hot to sleep at 2am, I started browsing Kindle books on Amazon–

(–and a minor digression here: how cool is it that at 2am on a very hot night, I can, from my iPad, wander around the virtual stacks of an enormous bookshelf, passing the time by browsing those virtual shelves and distracting myself from the heat. Instead of having to wait until a bookstore opens then next day.)

–and I decided to search for Durant’s Story of Civilization. But you are ahead of me. Sure enough, all 11 books are now available on Kindle. And if that wasn’t enough, when I checked the date that they became available, it was June 7, this past Tuesday. Had I checked on Monday and seen that they were not available, I might not have thought to check again for another year. I went ahead and purchased The Age of Faith, which is the 4th book in the series. Yes, I have it on my bookshelf, but it is also the longest book, being well over 1,000 pages and when I get around to reading it, it will be nice not to have to lug the extra weight around.

It will also be nice to highlight passages and take notes without having to worry about marking up that old first edition.

I highly recommend Durant’s series as an excellent introduction (or refresher) on world history. Those interested in the Kindle editions can find them here.


  1. Those do sound like good books on World History. I should look for them, or just wait till I decide to invest in a kindle.

    On a side note, I wonder if there is a historiography of Ariel Durant’s Story of Civilization available as a companion to the books.

    1. Sara, these are great books. You don’t need a Kindle either. You can download the Kindle App for Windows or Mac and read the book on your laptop. There is a short “overview” book that Will and Ariel Durant wrote called Lessons From History which may act as that companion book you were thinking of.


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