Durant, William James, 1885–1981, American historian and essayist, b. North Adams, Mass. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1917 and published his doctoral dissertation, Philosophy and the Social Problem, in the same year. This was followed by The Story of Philosophy (1926), an immediate best seller that opened the way for a school of popularized history. Durant then embarked upon a life-long project, the writing of a comprehensive history of civilization. The Story of Civilization (11 vol., 1935–75; vol. 7–11 written with his wife, Ariel Durant) is a monumental work stretching from prehistory to the 19th cent.
See also their The Lessons of History (1968) and Interpretations of Life (1970).
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