Recently I read of a 67-year-old woman who wanted to run in a marathon. She had never run for exercise in her life, but her desire and passion led her to put on a pair of sneakers, leave the house, and walk a mile. Every day she walked through her neighborhood, extending the distance a little each time. Soon she was jogging and walking. In another six months, she was running. In the next seven years, she competed in several marathons and other long-distance races.
One step at a time, and sooner or later you can run a marathon. One page at a time, and sooner or later you can read Will and Ariel Durant’s 11-volume The Story of Civilization.
For more than a quarter of a century, a set of the Durant histories has decorated my bookshelves. I say “decorated” because I so rarely open them. They served as an infrequent source of reference during my teaching days, and on rare occasions a few minutes spent with Caesar and Christ or The Age of Voltaire have provided diversion and entertainment.
On New Year’s Day, for a variety of reasons, not excluding the possibility of temporary insanity, I set myself a goal: I would read my way through the Durants in one year. Having declared this intention to friends and family, I felt like a novice climber contemplating Everest. Could...