The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by William Durant

  1. Durant lays out the smartest and most influential people and ideas in history.
Key Takeaways:
  1. An amazing list of thinkers, poets, authors, influencers, dates in history, books, etc. that have had a tremendous impact on history
What I got out of it:
  1. I have made it a personal goal to get through as many of these lists as possible and learn what I can about all of them. Stand on the shoulders of giant

10 Greatest Thinkers
  1. Confucius
  2. Plato
  3. Aristotle
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas
  5. Copernicus
  6. Sir Francis Bacon
  7. Sir Isaac Newton
  8. Voltaire
  9. Immanuel Kant
  10. Charles Darwin

10 Greatest Poets

  1. Homer
  2. David
  3. Euripedes
  4. Lucretius
  5. Li-Po
  6. Dante
  7. Shakespeare
  8. John Keats
  9. Percy Bysshe Shelley
  10. Whitman

10 Peaks of Human Progress

  1. Speech
  2. Fire
  3. Conquest of the animals
  4. Agriculture
  5. Social organization
  6. Morality
  7. Tools
  8. Science
  9. Education
  10. Writing and print

12 vital dates in human history

  1. 4241 BC – Egyptian calendar
  2. 543 BC – death of Buddha
  3. 478 BC – death of Confucius
  4. 399 BC – death of Socrates
  5. 44 BC – death of Caesar
  6. ? BC – Birth of Christ
  7. 632 AD – Death of Mohammad
  8. 1294 AD – Death of Roger Bacon
  9. 1454 AD – Johannes Gutenberg printing press
  10. 1492 AD – Columbus discovers America
  11. 1769 – James Watt makes steam engine practical
  12. 1789 – French Revolution
100 Books for an incredible education:

1. THOMSON, J.A., The Outline of Science. 4v.
2. CLENDENING, LOGAN, The Human Body.
3. KELLOGG, J.H., The New Dietetics; pp.1-531, 975-1011.
4. JAMES, Wm., Principles of Psychology. 2v.
5. WELLS, H.G., The Outline of History; chapters 1-14.
6. SUMNER, W.G., Folkways.
7. FRAZER, SIR JAS., The Golden Bough. 1-vol. ed.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, The Human Adventure. 2v. Vol. I, chs. 2-7.
5. WELLS, chs. 15-21, 26.
9. BROWN, BRIAN, The Wisdom of China.
10. THe Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Amos, Micah, the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and Epistles of St. Paul.
11. FAURE, ELIE, History Of Art. 4v. Vol. I, chs. 1-3; vol. II, chs. 1-3.
12. WILLIAMS, H.S., History of Science. 5v. Bk.I, chs. 1-4.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. I, chs. 8-19.
5. WELLS, chs. 22-25.
13. BURY, J.B., History of Greece. 2v.
14. HERODOTUS, Histories (Everyman Library.)
15. THUCYDIDES, The Peloponnesian War. (Everyman Library.)
16. PLUTARCH, Lives of Illustrious Men (es. Lycurgus, Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles, Alcibiades, Demosthenes, Alexander).
17. MURRAY, G., Greek Literature.
18. HOMER, Illiad. Trans. Bryant. Selections.
19. HOMER, Odyssey. Trans. Bryant. Selections.
20. AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound. Trans. Eliz. Browning.
21. SOPHOCLES, Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone. Trans. Young. (Everyman Library.)
22. EURIPIDES, all plays so far translated by Gilbert Murray.
23. DIOGENES LAERTIUS, Lives of the Philosophers.
24. PLATO, Dialogues. Trans. Jowett. Esp. The Apology of Socrates, Phaedo, and The Republic (sections 327-32, 336-77, 384-85, 392-426, 433-35, 481-83, 512-20, 572-95). 1-vol. ed. by Irwin Edman.
25. ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics.
26. ARISTOTLE, Politics.
12. WILLIAMS, History of Science, bk. I, chs. 5-9.
11. FAURE, History of Art, vol. I, chs. 4-7.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. I, chs. 20-30.
5. WELLS, chas. 27-29.
16. PLUTARCH, Lives (esp. Cato Censor, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, Marius, Sylla, Pompey, Cicero, Caesar, Brutus, Antony).
27. LUCRETIUS, On the Nature of Things. Trans. Munro. (Certain passages are admirably paraphrased in W.H. Mallock, Lucretius on Life and Death.)
28. VIRGIL, Aeneid. Trans. Wm. Morris. Selections.
29. MARCUS AURELIUS, Meditations. (Everyman Library.)
12. WILLIAMS, bk. I, chs. 10-11.
11. FAURE, vol. I, ch. 8.
30. GIBBON, E., Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 6v. (Everyman Library.) Esp. chs. 1-4, 9-10, 14, 15-24, 26-28, 30-31, 35-36, 44, 71.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 1-11.
5. WELLS, chs. 30-34.
30 GIBBON, chs. 37-38, 47-53, 55-59, 64-65, 68-70.
31. OMAR KHAYYAM, Rubaiyat. Fitzgerald’s paraphrase.
32. MOORE, GEO., Heloise and Abelard. 2v.
33. DANTE, Divine Comedy. Trans. Longfellow, or C.E. Norton.
34. TAINE, H., History of English Literature, bk. I.
35. CHAUCER, G., Canterbury Tales. (Everyman Library.) Selections.
36. ADAMS, H., Mont St. Michel and Chartres.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 1-3.
11. FAURE, vol. II, chs. 4-9.
37. GRAY, C., History of Music, chs. 1-3, 5.


5. WELLS, ch. 35.
38. SYMONDS, J.A., The Renaissance in Italy. 7v.
39. CELLINI, B., Autobiography. Trans. Symonds.
40. VASARI, G., Lives of the Painters and Sculptors. 4v. Esp. Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo.
41. HOFFDING, H., History of Modern Philosophy. 2v. Sections on Bruno and Machiavelli.
42. MACHIAVELLI, N., The Prince.
37. GRAY, chs. 6, 8.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 13-14.
43. SMITH, P., The Age of the Reformation.
44. FAGUET, E., The Literature of France; sections on the sixteenth century.
45. RABELAIS, Gargantua and Pantagruel.
46 SHAKESPEARE:, Plays. Esp. Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Henry IV, Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Timon of Athens, and The Tempest.
34. TAINE, bk. II, chs. 1-4.
37. GRAY, chs. 4, 7.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 4-8.
11. FAURE, vol. III, chs. 4-6.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, ch. 15.
44. FAGUET, sections on the seventeenth century.
49. LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, Reflections.
50. MOLIERE, Plays. Esp. Tartuffe, The Miser, The Misanthrope, The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Feast of the Statue (Don Juan).
51. BACON, F., Essays. All. (Everyman Library.)
52. MILTON, J., Lycidas, L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, Sonnets, Areopagitica, and selections from Paradise Lost.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 9-13.
41. HOFFDING, sections on Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, and Leibnitz.
53. HOBBES, Leviathan. (Everyman Library.)
54. SPINOZA, Ethics and On the Improvement of the Understanding. (Everyman Library.)
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 1-4.
37. GRAY, chs. 9-10.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 16-21.
5. WELLS, chs. 26-27.
44. FAGUET, sections on the eighteenth century.
55. SAINTE-BEUVE, Portraits of the 18th Century.
56. VOLTAIRE, Works. I-vol. ed. Esp. Candide, Zadig, and essays on Toleration and History.
57. ROUSSEAU, J. J., Confessions.
58. TAINE, H., Origins of Contemporary France. 6v. Vols. I-IV.
59. CARLYLE, The French Revolution. 2v. (Everyman Library.)
34. TAINE, History of English Literature, bk. III, chs. 4-7.
60 BOSWELL, Life of Samuel Johnson. 2v. (Everyman Library.)
61. FIELDING, H., Tom Jones. (Everyman Library, 2v.)
62. STERNE, L., Tristram Shandy. (Everyman Library.)
63. SWIFT, J., Gulliver’s Travels. (Everyman Library.)
64. HUME, D., Treatise on Human Nature. 2v. (Everyman Library.) Esp. bks. II and III.
65. WOLLSTONECREAFT, MARY, Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
66. SMITH, ADAM, The Wealth of Nations. 2v. (Everyman Library.) Selections.
12. WILLIAMS, bk. II, chs. 14-15.
41. HOFFDING, sections on the eighteenth century.
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 5-6.
37. GRAY, chs. 11-12.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 22-28.
5. WELLS, chs. 38-39.
58. TAINE, Origins of Contemporary France. Vol. V, The Modern Regime, pp. 1-90.
67. LUDWIG, E., Napoleon.
68. BRANDES, G., Main Currents of 19th Century Literature. 6v.
*69. GOETHE, Faust.
70 ECKERMANN, Conversations with Goethe.
71. HEINE, Poems. Trans. Louis Untermeyer.
34. TAINE, History of English Literature, bks. IV-V.
*72. KEATS, Poems.
*73. SHELLEY, Poems.
*74. BYRON, Poems.
44. FAGUET, sections on the nineteenth century.
75. BALZAC, Pere Goriot.
*76 FLAUBERT, Works. I-vol. ed. Esp. Mme. Bovary and Salambo.
77. HUGO, Les Miserables.
78. FRANCE, ANATOLE, Penguin Isle.
79. TENNYSON, Poems.
80. DICKENS, Pickwick Papers.
81. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair.
82. TUREGENEV, Fathers and Children.
83. DOSTOIEVSKI, The Brothers Karamazov.
84. TOLSTOI, War and Peace.
85. IBSEN, Peer Gynt.
12. WILLIAMS, bks. III-IV.
86. DARWIN, Descent of Man.
41. HOFFDING, sections on the nineteenth century.
87. BUCKLE, Introduction to the History of Civilization in England. Esp. part I, chs. 1-5, 15.
88. SCHOPENHAUER, Works. I-Vol. ed.
89. NIETZSCHE, Thus Spake Zarathustra.
11. FAURE, vol. IV, chs. 7-8.
37. GRAY, chs. 13-17.


90. BEARD, C. and M., The Rise of American Civilization. 2v.
91. POE, Poems and Tales.
92. EMERSON, Essays.
93. THOREAU, Walden.
94. WHITMAN, Leaves of Grass.
95. LINCOLN, Letters and Speeches.


8. BREASTED and ROBINSON, vol. II, chs. 29-30.
5. WELLS, chs. 40-41.
96. ROLLAND, R., Jean Christophe. 2v.
97. ELLIS, H., Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Vols. I, II, III, VI.
98. ADAMS, H., The Education of Henry Adams.
99. BERGSON, Creative Evolution.
100. SPENGLER, O., Decline of the West. 2v.