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Summary Article: Durant, Will(iam James) (1885–1981) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US historian and writer, born in North Adams, Massachusetts. He published his philosophy lectures in the best-seller, The Story of Philosophy (1926). He left academia and, for 40 years, devoted himself to the multivolume Story of Civilization. The tenth volume earned him a Pulitzer Prize.

He was born in Proskurov (now Khmelnitski), Ukraine. After working as a reporter, he went to Seton Hall College (now University) in New Jersey to teach and to study for the Catholic priesthood, but he left in 1911 and took up radical politics in New York City. He became director of the Labor Temple School in 1914 while taking a PhD at Columbia University (1917). In 1935 he published Our Oriental Heritage, the first volume of Story of Civilization. Ariel Durant (born Chaya Kaufman, 1898–1981) assisted him for some years and she was credited as co-author of the last five volumes. The Durants received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. Academic historians faulted the books on various grounds but their texture and narrative – a colourful tapestry of history, culture, and biographies – made the series one of the most successful popularizations of all time and introduced millions of readers to intellectual history.

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