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Summary

The final and most personal work from Pulitzer Prize - winning author and historian Will Durant - discovered 32 years after his death - is a message of insight for everyone who has sought meaning in life or the council of a wise friend in navigating life's journey.

From 1968 to 1978, Will Durant made four public allusions to the existence of Fallen Leaves. One, in 1975, hinted at its contents: "a not very serious book that answers the questions of what I think about government, life, death, and God." And in 1975: "I propose... to answer all the important questions, simply, fairly, and imperfectly." Even into his 90s,he worked on the book daily, writing it out on legal notepads. Upon his death in 1981, no one, not even the Durant heirs, knew if he had completed it, or even if it still existed. Thirty-two years later, in a granddaughter's attic trunk, the manuscript was discovered.

Fallen Leaves is Will Durant's most personal book. It is precisely as he described: 22 short chapters on everything from youth and old age, religion and morals, to sex, war, politics, and art. The culmination of Durant's 60-plus years spent researching the philosophies, religions, arts, sciences, and civilizations from across the world, Fallen Leaves is the distilled wisdom of a gifted scholar with a renowned talent for rendering the insights of the past accessible. In its preface Durant mentions that over the course of his career, he received letters from "curious readers who have challenged me to speak my mind on the timelessquestions of human life and fate." With Fallen Leaves, he accepted their challenge. It contains strong opinions, elegant prose, and deep insights into the human condition as only Will Durant could provide, as well as his revealing conclusions about the perennial problems and greatest joys we face as a species.

©2014 John Little and the Estate of Will and Ariel Durant (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • jason
  • 19-12-14

Wonderful!

Enjoyed this book almost as much as I enjoy the story of civilization series. I disagree with several of his ideas, but listening was joyful anyway. Surprised to find out he knew Emma Goldman, stunned at his conservative sexual views, my only negative remark is that the book isn't longer and more detailed. I recommend the title to every Durant fan out there.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anon
  • 29-05-18

One of the best books from one of America’s greatest thinkers...

Although you rarely see him mentioned anymore Will Durant was one of the greatest minds this country has ever produced. I believe this is his crowning achievement. A must for any lover of history !

3 people found this helpful

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  • ListenClose
  • 16-11-15

Fascinating and humorous look at life

Would you consider the audio edition of Fallen Leaves to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print version, but love Grover Gardner's voice and it fits Durant's voice so well, I know I would prefer the auydio version!

What did you like best about this story?

Just down-to-earth observations and wisdom told in a charming and folksy manner

Which scene was your favorite?

Just about all of them

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Each vignette touched me differently. I can't say I was "moved" but perhaps "mood-lightened"

Any additional comments?

Grover Gardner is the perfect Durant, Twain, Faulkner, Steinbeck...Americana voice. I really love simply listening to him....he might actually be able to make the Atlanta phone book charming and slightly witty.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Chip C.
  • 24-02-18

If only we would live as herein prescribed ...

This is an excellent book. Mr. Durant lived during a time little different than any other. Having also written extensively about the history of civilisation in another series of books, he was very well positioned to tell how life has been and should be lived. His writing will cause you to be reminded of mistakes you and others have made but hey, the world turns and will for a very long time. This is a very good listen/read. The world would be a better place if a majority of it's inhabitants could learn from it(this book).

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  • sleepy in Seattle
  • 06-11-20

incredibly verbose

Good prose can be enjoyable. At many places this is just verbose without saying much. I've seen tweets containing more insights than some chapters here.

Durant's views on politics are often naive.

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  • Derick
  • 27-09-16

Answering everything, simply, fairly & imperfectly

If you could sum up Fallen Leaves in three words, what would they be?

Enlightened, cathartic, elegant

What did you like best about this story?

Classic Will Durant. You don't have to agree with him to truly respect his views on life and society. He's wonderfully self-aware and balanced in his approach. Nothing too groundbreaking, especially if you're familiar with The Story of Philosophy, but it’s great to hear the summation of the lessons he’s learned in life. I’ll certainly come back and listen again.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-02-21

Thought provoking

I disagree and agree with Durant on so many major topics. Right or wrong, his opinions are always thought provoking. History repeats itself, that I know is true. Durant might have very well been a prophet in that regards. His thoughts and predictions on so many things (including China as a major world power) are this day happening. A wealth of knowledge in these pages. A warning if societal morality is lost and I believe it is.

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  • Salvador Nava
  • 14-12-20

Quintessential wisdom of a life long-lived!

I'm afraid I have to disagree with some of what Mr. Durant says, but all in all, wisdom from academia, historical study, and a life long-lived permeates the pages of his book!!

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  • Jason
  • 28-11-20

Sweeping generalizations galore

Presents many opinions as fact, with weak arguments. Entertaining, if not old fashioned and at times sexist.

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  • Todd
  • 27-10-20

Interesting - Amazing Thinker

Will Durant studied history for 80 years, arguably giving him incredible insights. Very interesting to hear how he thinks about various topics from art to politics to education through a lens of history. Well worth the time.