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A collection of humanity's most effective ideas drawn from across history. 


This is an unusual sort of history book: a history of ideas – and not just any old ideas, ideas from across time and space that are best suited to healing, enchanting and reviving us.


This is a history book that takes us from the very beginnings of our species right up to the modern age. We hear about the Ancient Greeks and Romans, we learn about Buddhism and Islam, we acquire ideas from Hinduism and the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment and Modernity. Deliberately eclectic, the book gives us a panoramic, 3,000-year view over the finest insights of a diversity of civilisations.


Every idea hangs off an image – it could be a place, a document, a building or a work of art – that has something very specific to teach us. There are ideas here that will stick in our minds because they can help to answer the biggest puzzles we may have: about the direction of our lives, the issues of relationships, the meaning of existence.

The book amounts to a feast for the intellect and the imagination – to make us into the best sorts of historians, those who know how to use the past to shed light on their own lives.


• A curated collection of artworks and photographs capturing unique objects, places and inspiring moments from history, each accompanied by a short essay.

• Instructive and illuminative writings on a wide variety of historical ideas framed in the context of what they can teach us today.

• Featured artists include: Jacob de Wit, Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Gary Winogrand, Rembrandt van Rijn and more.

A History of Ideas by The School of Life

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