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It's an undisputed fact that in many western societies, educational standards have fallen in recent times. Students have been leaving advanced institutions of learning poorly prepared for their futures. The reasons are many, and include political altruism and technological distraction.

In his book, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, which was compiled 15 years after his death, Will Durant listed 100 books (titles, actually) that once read over what equated to a four-year period, would provide the reader with a traditional education. This timeframe was based on reading a mere seven hours a week, and allowing 10 hours to complete each of the 151 volumes.

One of the most difficult steps would be to accumulate these volumes, as many are long out of print and would likely be prohibitively expensive to acquire. However, with tremendous gratitude to libraries and universities in the U.S., Canada, and India, virtually all of these books are available online...and for free, at the website archive.org. I've prepared the listing below of the books in 12 groups, as displayed in his Road to Freedom brochure. Each title is a clickable link to the book on the archive.org website, which will allow you to select any of several formats to download, such as pdf or epub. Be aware that many of these books are scanned copies of yellowed pages over a century old--but the words on these pages are still filled with wisdom and enlightenment.

One volume, the important The Human Adventure: The Ordeal of Civilization could not be located in digital format. However, I've recently purchased a hard copy online, and once it arrives, I'll begin the process of scanning and assembling a pdf for access shortly.

 
Group 1 - Introductory Texts
       
1.   The Outline of Science - Volume 1 Thomson, J.A.
    The Outline of Science - Volume 2 Thomson, J.A.
    The Outline of Science - Volume 3 Thomson, J.A.
    The Outline of Science - Volume 4 Thomson, J.A.
2.   The Human Body Clendening, L.
3.   The New Dietetics (Read pp. 1-531, 975-1011) Kellogg, J.H.
4.   Principles of Psychology - Volume 1 James, W.
    Principles of Psychology - Volume 2 James, W.
5.   The Outline of History (Read chs. 1-14) Wells, H.G.
6.   Folkways Sumner, W.G.
7.   The Golden Bough - Volume 1 of 2 Frazer, Sir J.
    The Golden Bough - Volume 2 of 2 Frazer, Sir J.
       
       
Group 2 - Asia and Africa
       
8.   The Human Adventure: The Conquest of Civilization (Read chs. 2-7) Breasted/Robinson
    The Human Adventure: The Ordeal of Civilization Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read chs. 15-21, 26) Wells, H.G.
9.   The Wisdom of the Chinese Brown, B.
10.   The Bible  
    (Read 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.   History of Art - Volume 1 (Read chs. 1-3) Faure, E.
    History of Art - Volume 2 (Read chs. 1-3) Faure, E.
    History of Art - Volume 3 Faure, E.
    History of Art - Volume 4 Faure, E.
12.   History of Science - Volume 1 (Read chs. 1-4) Williams, H.S.
    History of Science - Volume 2 Williams, H.S.
    History of Science - Volume 3 Williams, H.S.
    History of Science - Volume 4 Williams, H.S.
    History of Science - Volume 5 Williams, H.S.
       
       
Group 3 - Greece
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 1 (See #8) (Read chs. 8-19) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read chs. 22-25) Wells, H.G.
13.   The History of Greece - Volumes 1 & 2 Bury, J.B.
14.   Histories Herodotus
15.   The Peloponnesian War Thucydides
16.   Lives of Illustrious Men - Volume 1 Plutarch
    Lives of Illustrious Men - Volume 2 Plutarch
    Lives of Illustrious Men - Volume 3 Plutarch
    Lives of Illustrious Men - Volume 4 Plutarch
    (esp. Lycurgus, Solon, Themistocles, Aristides, Pericles, Alcibiades, Demosthenes, Alexander)
17.   Greek Literature Murray, G.
18.   Iliad (Bryant translation) Homer
19.   Odyssey (Bryant translation) Homer
20.   Prometheus Bound (E. Browning translation) Aeschylus
21.   Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone (Francklin translation) Sophocles
22.   Plays (G. Murray translations) Euripides
23.   Lives of the Philosophers Diogenes Laertius
24.   Dialogues - Volume 1 (Jowett translation) Plato
    (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). Edited by Irwin Edman)
25.   Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle
26.   Politics Aristotle
12.   History of Science - Volume 1 (See #12) (Read chs. 5-9) Williams, H.S.
13.   History of Art - Volume 1 (See #11) (Read chs. 4-7) Faure, E.
       
       
Group 4 - Rome
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 1 (See #8) (Read chs. 20-30) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read chs. 27-29) Wells, H.G.
16.   Lives of Illustrious Men Plutarch
    (esp. Cato Censor, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, Marius, Sylla, Pompey, Cicero, Caesar, Brutus, Antony)
27.   On the Nature of Things (Munro translation) Lucretius
28.   Aeneid Virgil
29.   Meditations Marcus Aurelius
12.   History of Science - Volume 1 (See #12) (Read chs. 11-12) Williams, H.S.
11.   History of Art - Volume 1 (See #11) (Read ch. 8) Faure, E.
30.   Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 1 Gibbon, E.
    Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 2 Gibbon, E.
    Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 3 Gibbon, E.
    Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 4 Gibbon, E.
    Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 5 Gibbon, E.
    Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 6 Gibbon, E.
    (esp. chs. 1-4, 9-10, 14, 15-24, 26-28, 30-31, 35-36, 44, 71)
       
       
Group 5 - The Age of Christianity
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read chs. 1-11) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read chs. 30-34) Wells, H.G.
30.   Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Gibbon, E.
    (Read chs. 37-38, 47-53, 55-59, 64-65, 68-70)  
31.   Rubaiyat (Fitzgerald’s paraphrase) Khayyam, O.
32.   Heloise and Abelard - Volume 1 Moore, G.
    Heloise and Abelard - Volume 2 Moore, G.
33.   Divine Comedy (Longfellow translation) Dante
34.   History of English Literature - Volume 1 Taine, H.
    History of English Literature - Volume 2 Taine, H.
    History of English Literature - Volume 3 Taine, H.
    History of English Literature - Volume 4 Taine, H.
    History of English Literature - Volume 5 Taine, H.
35.   Canterbury Tales Chaucer, G.
36.   Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres Adams, H.
12.   History of Science - Volume 2 (See #12) (Read chs. 1-3) Williams, H.S.
11.   History of Art - Volume 2 (See #11) (Read chs. 4-9) Faure, E.
37.   The History of Music (Read chs. 1-3, 5) Gray, C.
       
       
Group 6 - The Italian Renaissance
       
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read ch. 35) Wells, H.G.
38.   The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 1 (The Age of the Despots) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 2 (The Revival of Learning) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 3 (The Fine Arts) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 4 (Italian Literature 1) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 5 (Italian Literature 2) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 6 (The Catholic Reaction 1) Symonds, J.A.
    The Renaissance in Italy - Volume 7 (The Catholic Reaction 2) Symonds, J.A.
39.   Autobiography (Symonds translation) Cellini, B.
40.   Lives of the Painters and Sculptors - Volume 1 Vasari, G.
    Lives of the Painters and Sculptors - Volume 2 Vasari, G.
    Lives of the Painters and Sculptors - Volume 3 Vasari, G.
    Lives of the Painters and Sculptors - Volume 4 Vasari, G.
    (Esp. Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo)
41.   History of Modern Philosophy - Volume 1 Hoffding, H.
    History of Modern Philosophy - Volume 2 Hoffding, H.
    (Sections on Bruno and Machiavelli)  
42.   The Prince Machiavelli, N.
37.   History of Music (see #37) (Read chs. 6, 8) Gray, C.
       
       
Group 7 - Europe in the Sixteenth Century
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read chs. 13-14) Breasted/Robinson
43.   The Age of the Reformation Smith, P.
44.   A Literary History of France (Read sections on the 16th Century) Faguet, E.
45.   Gargantua and Pantagruel Rabelais
46.   Essays - Volume 1 Montaigne
    Essays - Volume 2 Montaigne
    Essays - Volume 3 Montaigne
    (Esp. of Coaches, Of the Incommodity of Greatness, of Vanity, and of Experience)
47.   Don Quixote Cervantes
48.   Plays Shakespeare
    (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.   History of English Literature - Volume 2 (See #34) (Read chs. 1-4) Taine, H.
37.   History of Music (See #37) (Read chs. 4, 7) Gray, C.
12.   History of Science - Volume 2 (See #12) (Read chs. 4-8) Williams, H.S.
11.   History of Art - Volume 3 (See #11) (Read chs. 4-6) Faure, E.
       
       
Group 8 - Europe in the Seventeenth Century
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read ch. 15) Breasted/Robinson
44.   The Literature of France (Read sections on the 17th Century) Faguet, E.
49.   Reflections La Rochefoucauld
50.   Plays - Volume 1 (Tartuffe, Miser, Misanthrope) Moliere
    Plays - Volume 2 (Bourgeois Gentleman) Moliere
    Plays - Volume 3 (Don Juan) Moliere
    (Esp. Tartuffe, The Miser, The Misanthrope, The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Feast of the Statue [Don Juan])
51.   Essays Bacon, F.
52.   Lycidas, L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Sonnets Milton, J.
    Areopagitica and Paradise Lost Milton, J.
12.   History of Science - Volume 2 (See #12) (Read chs. 9-13) Williams, H.S.
41.   History of Modern Philosophy - Volume 1 & 2 Hoffding, H.
    (Read sections on Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, and Leibnitz)
53.   Leviathan Hobbes
54.   Ethics and On the Improvement of the Understanding Spinoza
11.   History of Art - Volume 4 (See #11) (Read chs. 1-4) Faure, E.
37.   History of Music (See #37) (Read chs. 9-10) Gray, C.
       
       
Group 9 - Europe in the Eighteenth Century
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read ch. 16-21) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read ch. 26-27) Wells, H.G.
44.   The Literature of France (Read sections on the 18th Century) Faguet, E.
55.   Portraits of the l8th Century - Volume 1 Sainte-Beuve
    Portraits of the l8th Century - Volume 2 Sainte-Beuve
56.   Works - Candide & Zadig Voltaire
    Essays on Toleration and History Voltaire
57.   Confessions Rouseau, J.J.
58.   Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 1 (Ancient Regime) Taine, H.
    Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 2 (French Revolution 1) Taine, H.
    Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 3 (French Revolution 2) Taine, H.
    Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 4 (French Revolution 3) Taine, H.
    Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 5 (Modern Regime 1) Taine, H.
    Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 6 (Modern Regime 2) Taine, H.
59.   The French Revolution - Volume 1 Carlyle
    The French Revolution - Volume 2 Carlyle
34.   History of English Literature - Volume 3 (See #34) (Read chs. 4-7) Taine, H.
60.   Life of Samuel Johnson - Volume 1 Boswell
    Life of Samuel Johnson - Volume 2 Boswell
61.   Tom Jones - Volume 1 Fielding, H.
    Tom Jones - Volume 2 Fielding, H.
62.   Tristram Shandy Sterne, L.
63.   Gulliver’s Travels Swift, J.
64.   Treatise on Human Nature - Volumes 2 & 3 Hume, D.
65.   Vindication of the Rights of Woman Wollstonecraft, M.
66.   The Wealth of Nations - Volume 1 Smith, A.
    The Wealth of Nations - Volume 2 Smith, A.
    The Wealth of Nations - Volume 3 Smith, A.
12.   History of Science - Volume 2 (See #12) (Read chs. 14-15) Williams, H.S.
41.   History of Modern Philosophy (Read sections on the 18th Century) Hoffding, H.
11.   History of Art - Volume 4 (See #11) (Read chs. 5-6) Faure, E.
37.   History of Music (See #37) (Read chs. 11-12) Gray, C.
       
       
Group 10 - Europe in the Nineteenth Century
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read ch. 22-28) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read ch. 38-39) Wells, H.G.
58.   Origins of Contemporary France - Volume 5 (Read pp. 1-90) Taine, H.
67.   Napoleon Ludwig, E.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 1 Brandes, G.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 2 Brandes, G.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 3 Brandes, G.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 4 Brandes, G.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 5 Brandes, G.
68.   Main Currents of 19th Century Literature - Volume 6 Brandes, G.
69.   Faust Goethe
70.   Conversations with Goethe - Volume 1 Eckermann
    Conversations with Goethe - Volume 2 Eckermann
71.   Poems (Untermeyer translation) Heine
34.   History of English Literature (Read Books 4 & 5) Taine, H.
72.   Poems Keats
73.   Poems Shelley
74.   Poems Byron
44.   The Literature of France (Read sections on the 19th Century) Faguet
75.   Père Goriot Balzac
76.   Works (Esp. Mme. Bovary and Salambo) Flaubert
77.   Les Miserables Hugo, V.
78.   Penguin Island France, A.
79.   Poems Tennyson, A.
80.   Pickwick Papers Dickens, C.
81.   Vanity Fair Thackeray, W.
82.   Fathers and Sons Turgenev, I.
83.   The Brothers Karamazov Dostoievski, F.
84.   War and Peace Tolstoy, L.
85.   Peer Gynt Ibsen
12.   History of Science (Read Vols. 3-4) Williams
86.   Descent of Man Darwin, C.
41.   History of Modern Philosophy (Sections on the 19th Century) Hoffding, H.
87.   Introduction to the History of Civilization in England (Esp. chs. 1-5, 15) Buckle H.T.
88.   The World as Will - Volume 1 Schopenhauer
    The World as Will - Volume 2 Schopenhauer
    Essays Schopenhauer
89.   Thus Spake Zarathustra Nietzsche, F.
11.   History of Art - Volume 4 (Read chs. 7-8) Faure, E.
37.   History of Music (Read chs. 13-17) Gray, C.
       
       
Group 11 - America  
       
90.   The Rise of American Civilization - Volumes 1 & 2 Beard, C. & M.
91.   Poems and Tales Poe, E.A.
92.   Essays Emerson
93.   Walden Thoreau, H.D.
94.   Leaves of Grass Whitman, W.
95.   Letters and Speeches Lincoln, A.
       
       
Group 12 - The Twentieth Century  
       
8.   The Human Adventure - Volume 2 (See #8) (Read chs. 29-30) Breasted/Robinson
5.   The Outline of History (See #5) (Read chs. 40-41) Wells, H.G.
96.   Jean Christophe - Volume 1 Rolland, R.
    Jean Christophe - Volume 2 Rolland, R.
97.   Studies in the Psychology of Sex - Volume 1 Ellis, H.
    Studies in the Psychology of Sex - Volume 2 Ellis, H.
    Studies in the Psychology of Sex - Volume 3 Ellis, H.
    Studies in the Psychology of Sex - Volume 6 Ellis, H.
98.   The Education of Henry Adams Adams, H.
99.   Creative Evolution Bergson
100.   Decline of the West - Volume 1 Spengler, O.
    Decline of the West - Volume 2 Spengler, O.
       
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
         
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