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Anybody Can Make History. Only a Great

Anybody Can Make History. Only a Great

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Published by shenba

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Published by: shenba on Feb 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.
- Oscar Wilde
Fifty years of writing a book may seem like a long period ofauthorship, but there is a lengthy work that took a full five decades towrite. The book is
The Story of Civilization,
and the man was WillDurant.He was once called William James Durant. His pious French-Canadian mother had chosen the name in deference to one ofChrist’s apostles, however, rather than out of respect (or evenknowledge) of the famed American psychologist-philosopher. In time,the youth became a compromise of sorts; becoming an apostle forphilosophy.
First, however, Durant was destined for holy orders. Born in NorthAdams, Massachusetts, in 1885, he studied in Catholic parochialschools there and in Kearny, New Jersey. His teachers were nuns,
and he practiced his religion so fervently that no one doubted that hewould become a priest. In 1900 he entered St. Peter's Academy andCollege in Jersey City, where his teachers were Jesuits, and, one ofthese, Father McLaughlin, urged him to enter the Jesuit Orderfollowing his graduation in 1907.But in 1903 he discovered the works of some alluring infidels in theJersey City Public Library -- Darwin, Huxley, Spencer and Haeckel.Biology, with its Nature "red in tooth and claw," did some harm to hisfaith, and suddenly, in his 18
year, it dawned upon him that he couldnot honestly dedicate himself to the priesthood – but how could hebreak the news to his mother, who had pinned her hopes, both forthis world and the next, on offering her son in service to God?
The outcome was extraordinary, for, while Durant was losing onefaith, he was taking on another in compensation. In 1905 heexchanged his devotion for Socialism. An earthly paradise, he felt,would compensate for the heaven lost in the glare of biology. Anotheryouth attending the same college was suffering a similar andsimultaneous infection, for he, too, had been headed for the clergy.To both boys occurred the fascinating idea of pleasing proud parentsby entering the priesthood – but, once in, they would work to convertthe American Catholic Church to socialism. For a time, some inklingof the size of the enterprise deterred the conspirators, but they failedto heed the warning.
Graduating in 1907, Durantpersuaded Arthur Brisbane to offerhim employment as a cub reporter --at the princely sum of ten dollars aweek -- on the
New York Evening Journal 
. This was a heady changefrom the young man's youthful piety,for the evening papers of New York inthat summer were featuring rapecases. The young man, dizzy withSocialism but still mindful of hismorals, found himself pursuing sexcriminals, day after day. Theoccupation turned his stomach, and a

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