Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I commend you on your efforts, and those of the Foundation, to spread the teachings of Dr. Durant.
I came upon his work quite by accident ... while planning a long car trip up to Mammoth Mountain, I was browsing the audiobook section in Barnes and Nobles and purchased "The Lessons Of History" audiobook for the ride up. Prior to that I had never heard of the Durants.
During the drive up, we listened to the tape in an attempt to spend the time wisely ... unfortunately, the reading was more narcotic than expected and we were soon asleep (including me, the driver!)
Some months later I found the tapes in the back seat and tried again. (I live in L.A., so there's plenty of time spent in the car).
This time, the more I listened, the more I realized I had never before heard such a perfect, eloquent, profound crystallization of history and its meaning for the present and future. I must have listened to it dozens of times and I still find it powerful.
I then read through "Story of Philosophy," then "Our Oriental Heritage," and, as I mentioned before, I'm currently working my way through the rest of the Story of Civilization via audiotapes. Every day I am amazed at his ability to draw from so many different ideas and insights, describe different peoples and times so perfectly, and top it off with a clever turn of phrase. (Now, the tapes are the only thing that keeps me AWAKE in the car!)
A feature request for the website (which is an excellent website, by the way), is: an annotated bibliography, even of the out-of-print works.
I just read "The Tragedy Of Russia" from 1932, and, as you said, many of the insights in there are just as fresh in 2003 as in 1932 - in fact, I would say that is the case with ALL of the his work. I read "Transition" recently, too, and highly recommend it. (Yes, I am obsessed with reading everything I can possibly read by Will Durant!!)
Although these books are out of print, they are still available in various places, such as Alibris, and people like myself who are interested in delving deeper into the Durants' work than what is currently available in print would be grateful to have a listing of all of the books he has written.
Also, many people are not aware of this, but there is a CD-ROM with the entire Story of Civilization on it, along with some video footage of an elderly Will and Ariel Durant, which, while brief, is still amazing. The CD-ROM is sort of primitive, but I find it useful when I want to gather some meaningful quotes and can simply copy and paste (even that doesn't work that well though).
Needless to say, I'm excited to hear that original Durant readings on Audiotape will be available soon via the website!! Also, are there any extant audio recordings of Durant in his younger years?
Finally, I have some general questions (I'm just excited to have someone to talk to about Will Durant!):
1. Why do you think it is that the Durants don't have more recognition in our present educational system? I didn't study history or philosophy primarily during university, but even still, I had NEVER heard of Will Durant prior to my accidental discovery in the bookstore (I often wonder, what would have happened had I never saw that tape?)
I suspect part of it has to do with the extreme secularism that Durant speaks with ... our society, while supposedly separating church and state, doesn't seem to regard atheists too highly.
In any case, it's a shame that more people aren't aware of the profound insights to be gained even from a short reading. I was happy, of course, to see "Heroes Of History" and "Greatest Minds" appearing recently ... maybe this is the start of a revival?!
2. Does the Will Durant Foundation support any particular educational enterprise, i.e. scholarships, or proceeds from the books, etc ...
3. Does the Will and Ariel Durant Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library actually have anything to do with the Durants? I went there a couple of years ago (a pilgrimmage of sorts), and the librarians there had no idea who they were!! I'm not kidding! Also, they really had a paltry selection of Durant books. I'm talking, like, maybe two volumes of the Story of Civ!
OK, sorry this has been so long, but like I said, it's just nice to have a place to talk about Will Durant and his ideas, and once again I commend you on your efforts!!