Review: The Lessons of History (First Edition)

6 Star Top 10%, History, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy
Amazon Page

Will and Ariel Durant

When I donated by 2500 volume library to George Mason University (down from 5000 in earlier years), this is one of a tiny handful of books I held back, along with Buckminster Fuller's Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure.

This edition is the FIRST edition. The reprinted currently in stock version The Lessons of History is more readily available, but if you can get the first edition, it is priceless at multiple levels.

This is the first book that I discuss in my national security lecture on the literature relevant to strategy & force structure. It is a once-in-a-lifetime gem of a book that sums up their much larger ten volume collection which itself is brilliant but time consuming. This is the “executive briefing.”

Geography matters. Inequality is natural. Famine, pestilence, and war are Nature's way of balancing the population.

Birth control (or not) has *strategic* implications (e.g. see Catholic strategy versus US and Russian neglect of its replenishment among the higher social and economic classes).

History is color-blind. Morality is strength. Worth saying again: morality is strength.

They end with “the only lasting revolution is in the mind of man.” In other words, technology is not a substitute for thinking by humans.

See my various lists. Other books I recommend:

Reference (2010): Integrity–Without it Nothing Works II


Integrity – A New Model


Academic Paper in Progress

Werner Erhard and Professor Michael C. Jensen discuss their positive model of integrity that links integrity and personal and corporate performance. They address integrity in a developing academic paper, whose primary purpose is to present a positive model of integrity that provides a powerful access to increased performance for individuals, groups, organizations, and societies.

The creation of this model reveals a causal link between integrity and increased performance. Through the work of clarifying and defining what integrity is and it’s causal link to performance, this model provides access to increased performance for private individuals, executives, economists, philosophers, policy makers, leaders, legal and government authorities.

Phi Beta Iota: In late 2009 we pointed to a very important paper in Reference: Integrity–Without it Nothing Works.  That first posting focused on the US member of the two-person team doing all of this original work.  Now we focus on Werner Erhard, whose home page offers a rich combination of background plus a diversity of supporting sources.

Below are a handful of links, we strongly recommend deep attention to every aspect of the web site.  Integrity is a theme that runs through history and the work of, among others, Will Durant and Buckminster Fuller and Robert Steele.  These two authors,  Mssrs. Erhard and Jensen, better than anyone else in modern time, have articulated the pragmatic paradigmatic role that integrity plays in doing what Russell Ackoff calls “doing the right things” and Kent Myers calls “reflexive practice.

Dialogue with Werner H. Erhard and Michael C. Jensen. Integrity: Where Leadership Begins

“Beyond Coordination and Control Is… Transformation” –

Do Markets Need Integrity? – A Publication of the Yale School of Management

Integrity – A Business Conference – Photo Slide Presentation

NIGHTWATCH Extract: Dictators vs Iran in Middle East

02 Diplomacy, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 05 Iran, 08 Wild Cards, 11 Society, 12 Water, History

Syria-Saudi Arabia-Lebanon: Syria and Saudi Arabia pledged to support efforts to stabilize Lebanon and preserve its security and unity, Reuters reported 29 July. A joint statement from Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al Asad also called for better inter-Arab relations, praised Turkey's support for the Palestinians and called for the formation of a government in Iraq to preserve the nation's Arab identity and security.

NIGHTWATCH Comment: The King has undertaken another strenuous trip through Arab lands to build an Arab front that blocks Iranian influence in Syria and inroads in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Syrian Alawites, the Sunni Palestinians of Hamas and the Shiite Arabs of Lebanese Hezbollah have afforded the Persians unprecedented access to Arab lands and business.

The Saudi King continues to try to limit or reverse the damage to what passes for Arab unity from Iranian subversion. Thus far his energies have been misspent. His initiatives have not weakened Iranian influence in any of the three target entities.


Phi Beta Iota: Ambassador Mark Palmer has it right–the US should not be supporting dictators (nor, we would add, a genocidal Zionist movement that joins the Arabs against the Palistinians).  See Review: Breaking the Real Axis of Evil–How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025.  Will and Ariel Durant also have it right: morality is a strategic asset of incalculable value.  See Review: The Lessons of History.

See Also:

Review: Palestine–Peace Not Apartheid

Review: Unspeakable Truths–Facing the Challenges of Truth Commissions (Paperback)

Review: The Health of Nations–Society and Law beyond the State

Review: The leadership of civilization building–Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century

and all  the book lists.

Journal: Librarians and The Accessibility Paradox

Academia, Analysis, Budgets & Funding, Collective Intelligence, Methods & Process
Full Source Online
Full Source Online

Fortunately, most librarians have gotten used to the fact that the Internet is a tremendous boon to researchers and that free information is a fantastic idea. Sure, we haven't yet reallocated our organizational resources to recognize this fact—our staff time is much more likely to be devoted to acquiring and messing about with purchased information than in making good information from our archives, our labs, or the web more easily available.  [Emphasis added.]

Barbara Fister is a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN, a contributor to ACRLog, and an author of crime fiction. Her next mystery, Through the Cracks, will be published by Minotaur Books in 2010.
Barbara Fister

We need to separate our value—the way we curate information, champion its availability in the face of intolerance of unpopular ideas and economic disparity, and create conditions for learning how to find and use good information—from the amount of money it takes to acquire stuff on the not-so-open market. We need to be quite clear that good information is good information, no matter how it's funded. And we need to find creative ways to partner with those who add value to information and find sustainable models for the editorial work that can make good academic work better.

Continue reading “Journal: Librarians and The Accessibility Paradox”

Journal: Education and the Republic

04 Education

Education in the United States of America (USA) has become a prison, a factory, a fraud that dumbs down the vast majority with compulsory rote education of little value in a rapidly chaning world.  Within the Cabinet of the USA, Education is a sideshow, a neglected step-child vastly overshadowed by a $1 trillion a year national security budget and the insanity of a White House that thinks theater is a substitute for thinking, sabre-rattling a substitute for production.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had it right.  Jefferson said “A Nation's best defense is an educated citizenry” to which we would add “and armed”).  James Madison, whose statement we have adopted as the foundation for this Public Intelligence Blog, is even more specific:  “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

Continue reading “Journal: Education and the Republic”

Review: On the Meaning of Life

5 Star, Philosophy

Meaning of LifeWOW! A Jewel Pops Out of Amazon's Recommendation System, October 14, 2008

Will Durant

EDIT of 30 May 2009 to add flyleaf notes.

I was utterly THRILLED to see this book by Will Durant, published in 2005, pop up out of Amazon's recommendation system. Now I'm hooked.

The book opens with suicide statistics to point out the ultimate sacrifice or loss when hope is not to be found. One million in the world, 81,000 in the USA, 84.5 per day, 1 every 17.1 minutes. I have had 18 professional and one personal suicide in my life, What an important opening.

Finished, it surprises and delights with the common sense selections.

Key insights, remembering that this book is an edited collection of many people responding in one page to the QUESTION from Durant, who sent out 100 letters. First published in 1932, all the answers are grounded in the real world.

1) Uncertainty fosters greed.

2) Corruption of a society does not preclude the emergence of great minds that can catalyze further progress.

3) 1000 citivilizations have died in the course of history.

4) Citing Aristotle, all things have been discovered and forgotten manytimes over. Man–imperfect man–is the constant.

5) Utopia would be birth control, enfranchisement of all, emancipation of all–all of this is undone by crime, corruption, and war, none of which are necessary

Four quotes I feel should be here to encourage purchase of the book:

a) “We are driven to conclude that the greatest mistake in human history was the discovery of ‘truth.' It has not made us free, except from delusions that comforted us and restraints that preserved us.” Page 14

b) “Where such a faith [that gives hope], after supporting men for centuries, begins to weaken, like narrows down from a spiritual drama to a biological episode, it sacrifices the dignity conferred by a destiny endless in time, and shrinks to a strange interlude between a ridiculous birth and an annihilating death.” Page 17

c. “We discovered birth control, and now it sterlizes the intelligent, multiplies the ignorant, debases love with promuscuity, frustrates the educator, empowers the demagogue, and deteriorates the race.” Page 29

d. “The greatest questions of our time is not communism vs. the West, it is whether men can bear to live without God.” Page 34

All of the above are Durant's words. Then the book goes forward with two pages for each of those responding, one a graphic etching, the other their text.

The Lessons of History
The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
The Future of Life
DVD: What the Bleep Do We Know!?