This engaging, accessible book of essays from Pulitzer Prize-winning philosopher and historian Durant, author of the authoritative 11-volume Story of Civilization, should be essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of thought. Little, the founder and director of The Will Durant Foundation, includes in his slim compendium such works as ""The One Hundred 'Best' Books For an Education"" and ""Twelve Vital Dates in World History."" Durant's ""The Ten 'Greatest' Thinkers"" details minds as enlightening as Confucius and as influential as Darwin, whom Durant says ""reduced man to an animal fighting for his transient mastery of the globe."" ""The Ten 'Greatest' Poets,"" charts a course from Homer's brilliance to Dante's haunted heart to Whitman's ""frank and lusty"" originality, in prose peppered with biographical bon mots and excerpts of the world's loveliest poems. Lay folks especially will find this a delightful introduction to Durant's irrepressible style. What else would one expect from Durant, an intellect who, when asked, ""Whom in all of history would you most like to have known?"" drolly replied, ""Madame de Pompadour.""