From 1968 to 1978, Will Durant made four public allusions to the existence of Fallen Leaves. One, in 1975, hinted at its contents: "a not very serious book that answers the questions of what I think about government, life, death, and God." And in 1975: "I propose...to answer all the important questions, simply, fairly, and imperfectly." Even into his nineties, he worked on the book daily, writing it out on legal notepads. On his death in 1981, no one, not even the Durant heirs, knew if he had completed it, or even if it still existed. Thirty-two years later, in a granddaughter's attic trunk, the manuscript was discovered.
Fallen Leaves is Will Durant's most personal book. It is precisely as he described: twenty-two short chapters on everything from youth and old age, religion and morals, to sex, war, politics, and art. The culmination of Will Durant's sixty-plus years spent researching the philosophies, religions, arts, sciences, and civilizations from across the world, Fallen Leavesis the distilled wisdom of a gifted scholar with a renowned talent for rendering the insights of the past accessible. In its preface Durant mentions that over the course of his career he received letters from "curious readers who have challenged me to speak my mindon the timeless questions of human life and fate." With Fallen Leaves he accepted their challenge. It contains strong opinions, elegant prose, and deep insights into the human condition as only Will Durant could provide, as well as his revealing conclusions about the perennial problems and greatest joys we face as a species.