JT’s Book Of Choice:

The Lessons of History

Author: Will & Ariel Durant

Published: 1968

JT’s Rating: 5/5

Will and Ariel Durant spent over 50 years researching, compiling and writing the 11-volume series “The Story of Civilization” which covers 5,000 years of human civilization; for which they were awarded a Pulitzer Prize. After this momentous achievement, they decided to step back and take a broad overview of that 5,000 years and determine what over-arching lessons could be derived from it.  ”The Lessons of History” is the result of this broad view – what history can teach us.

The Lessons of History

The book is broken into a series of essays which look at larger concepts such as Race, Religion, Morality, etc., Each attempts to take an objective look at these concepts viewed through the lens of 5,000 years of civilisation.  The essays cover the following larger concepts:

  • Geology
  • Biology
  • Race
  • The Character of Man
  • Morals
  • Religion
  • Economics
  • Socialism
  • Government
  • War

For instance, on the subject of history and biology, the authors offer the following three precepts based on the collective history of civilisation:

  1. Life is competition
  2. Life is Selection
  3. Life must Breed

So although Darwin had his theories on the “Evolution of Species”, which he derived from studying animal species, the same concepts emerge when we view the larger scope of human civilisation and it’s ‘evolution’.

JT’s takeaway:

Written in a comfortable and familiar prose, these essays are insightful. I found them to be highly enlightening.

The book is very thought provoking. It forces us to confront our own views of why things have happened (or are happening) and gains perspective on what we sometimes, egotistically, view as challenges unique to our current point in history.


‘Racial’ antipathies have some roots in ethnic origin, but they are also generated, perhaps predominately, by differences of acquired culture — of language, dress, habits, morals, or religion.  There is no cure for such antipathies except a broadened education’


You may be wondering why a book about history finds it’s way onto a business book review but I personally believe that reading and exposing ourselves to history (and it’s patterns) opens our mind up to new thought and considerations.

This, in turn, can instigate new innovation for our businesses.

If nothing else, just consider the focus and persistence it must have taken the authors to undertake such a huge, long-term (50 year) undertaking should be enough to make you curious.

At the very least knowing some of this information is a great ice-breaker for business contacts!

Have you read this book?

If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below this post.

– JT

About JT

JT McGibbon is a serial Entrepreneur who currently owns and operates two successful Cloud-based software businesses.  He provides Success and Business Coaching for people that are just starting out and wish to increase their income and become Financially Free through building successful solo- or entrepreneurial businesses.  His StayOnTheRise website provides useful posts on topics such as mindset, habits and practical strategies to live a prosperous life.
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