A modern day Durant series

Jun 2018
1
USA
#1
When somebody asks about what to read about general western history, some reply says don't read it from beginning to end, but focus on a period that is particularly interesting to you, because general history books tend to be superficial and no writer is good at all historical periods. In particular, the Durants' books have been criticized for being biased and outdated.

While this comment is certainly right, aspiring to learn about the whole course of western history from the beginning to the recent times in its order is a legitimate or even grand aspiration, especially for a layman. If there have been great books about each historical period, why could't we pick the best books on each period and assemble a multi-volume history series covering the whole history, some kind of a modern day Durant series? So for a person like this, what would you recommend to read? Can you assemble a multi-volume history by selecting from the best works of different authors, for ancient Greece, Rome, medieval age, the renaissance, and so on?
 
Nov 2017
69
New Jersey, USA
#2
There have been always been large multi-volume surveys/encyclopedias, Durant's isn't the only one. Published in the 19th and 20th century you also have series like The Historians' History of the World, and A History of All Nations from the Earliest Times, and The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, and The story of the greatest nations. I guess the modern day equivalent to these today would probably be The Cambridge Ancient History, The New Cambridge Medieval History, and The New Cambridge Modern History series taken all together. If you want to pick out the best books for each period I would recommend beginning your search in the footnotes of these books.
 
Dec 2016
176
SAN
#3
Dabbling. This may be the only time I would say the Internet beats a book every time and in every respect.

If there is / were a good modern Durant series equivalent, it would be a waste of time to read cover to cover. Too much time invested in areas that will never be interesting, much less as interesting as the areas that are intensely interesting to you, but as yet undiscovered.

For example, I love studying the electronics tech of 1920s and 1930s. Tubes, wires, antennas, and such. If I started with History of Technology, 1) Fire 2) Wheel ... I would have never hooked onto studying any history.

When the Durant series first published, it was like an Internet of its time. No longer.
 
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