I mentioned on Twitter today that I have about half a dozen ideas for blog posts based on my reading of Will Durant’s Story of Civilization series. If this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to skip. I won’t be offended.
I figured that before I had my say, I’d provide another perspective, that of Isaac Asimov, who as regular readers will know, is one of my favorite writers, particularly of nonfiction. I’ve read Asimov’s 3-volume autobiography countless times, and I recalled him mentioning Durant at one point. So I looked it up and here is what the Good Doctor had to say. I writing about the events of August 6, 1945, Asimov said,
We were getting ready to go, and I remember exactly what happened.
I was reading a copy of Will Durant’s Caesar and Christ, the third volume in his history of civilization and Gertrude was ironing some clothes.
The radio stopped its regular programming for an emergency bulletin: The United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima1.
More directly relevant to Durant’s series, however, was a footnote Asimov included on this passage:
I read each volume as it came out. After I had read the first one and heard he was planning a multivolume history–five volumes was the original plan–I felt worried. I knew he was in his forties and I carefully noted in my diary that I hoped he would live long enough to complete the set. He did.
- From In Memory Yet Green by Isaac Asimov, Doubleday, 1979. ↩