I was excited to find this book, but I was eventually disappointed in that selection. Don't get me wrong. I thought it was a good series. It just wasn't what I surmised from the title. I have taught introductory courses about the ancient world. I know about ancient cultural practice: religion, class, labor, concepts of the world, gender roles, etc. What I was hoping for was a clear picture of daily life. Where did these people sleep? What did they do when they got up in the morning? What did they do during the day? At night? How exactly, really, specifically, did the daily life of a king differ from that of a laborer, for example? I wanted to be able to see individual people living their lives.
His voice was pleasant, easy to listen to.
Robert Garland brings the intricate ancient history of the common man and woman to life. Scholarly and substantial, with just the right amount of wit and humor - this is an imaginative journey that demands we find that favorite chair, brew a cup of wonderful tea, and lock distraction away for the better portion of an hour or two. As a bonus, Garland's voice is so pleasant, he could be reciting a grocery list and it would be both interesting and soothing.
I recommend this book to anyone who agrees that those who forget their history are destined to repeat it.
Well worth the investment of time.
Great lecture series but the information was 90% focused on classical ancient history in the Mediterranean and Britain. Highly recommend the series but disappointed with the limited focus on cultures most people are already quite familiar with.
Biographies of famous historical figures, while interesting, are a dime (or Audible credit) a dozen. What I really wanted to learn about were the daily routines and slice-of-life narratives about regular people who inhabited the world during ancient times. That is precisely what this book delivers.
It's honest, raw, humorous, and somehow still sensitive in its delivery. There's a huge scope of material being covered here, and it works with the presentation. Each chapter is a sort of snapshot in time, a day in the life of someone with whom I can identify, because Professor Garland makes each accessible and understandable to the layperson. You don't have to be a student of history, art, or science to find this book interesting and understandable.
I purchased this book as one of two audiobooks to take with me on a trip to Europe. I'm so glad I did! I was able to connect some locations I visited and artifacts in a museum to the faces of individuals conjured in my mind by his vivid descriptions and the humanity he brought to his subjects.
I'm pleased with this purchase and consider it one of my favorite Audible books.
For most of humanity's existence, the "average-Joe" on the street wouldn't of been able to read this review. The only works of art they were likely to behold would reside in a place of worship. And if you were a female... GOOD LUCK!
Today, we are lucky enough to even be aware of the past. Being informed how our ancestors lived before us helps a craft a more all encompassing perspective on the history of our species. The genesis of my historical perspective on the "average-Joe" comes from these insightful lectures.
While scanning a vast arrary of civilizations, from the Anicnet Egyptian's to the peasants of mid-evil Britain, Dr. Garland takes the listener on a sweeping narrative of how 99% of people lived throughout the ages. This intriguing outlook on history is one that never even popped into my mind before listening to these lectures. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about this fascinating subject. If you are a student of history, this is a must-listen for you!
The performance ruined this series for me. Slow ... with ... huge ... pauses... between ... words. Even stepping up the playback speed didn't really help. The information was okay, though there were small errors in information (no one carries a hawk on their shoulder, nor were the swords so heavy that they needed two hands) that brought into question the rest of the information.
It was nice to hear about the common folk during the time periods though.
I didn't love this course. Some parts were good, and I learned a *couple* of new things, but overall it seemed slow and not unfamiliar. It was a good premise, to explore history from the perspective of your average ancient Greek craftsman, Roman wife, or medieval nun, but I found much of it intuitive and even redundant. Professor Gardner was clearly enthused and enthralled by his topics, and loved telling his story in a first or second person as if actually in ancient Egypt touring Alexandria, or watching a chariot race... But I was not as invested.
I would have been interested to hear a bit more, in fact, on some of the periods and peoples which he covered quickly - Babylon, Persia, pre-Roman Britain... And what about the folks not in the greater European region during those times? He mentions the Saracens in the crusades lecture, but we get very little on them and the Arabic culture that's been developing while we were preoccupied with the Battle of Hastings... Not to mention the other folks beyond the Western World... I understand that he could elaborate more and greater varieties of folks when there was more info from archaeology to give evidence, but I think his discussions of the lives of women and slaves, of the poor and infirm, were all so similar that they might have been combined somehow.
Even when it wasn't redundant feeling, I felt familiar with a lot of the material already. I think I got 98% of what he discusses on Egypt from the Great Course devoted to Ancient Egypt. And I felt like little was new in Greece and Rome - though perhaps I just had a good high school history teacher. And I did have the advantage too of having traveled to many of the Hellenistic sites mentioned on a school sponsored trip - so having been to Olympia, Epidurous, Athens, and Delphi, I was familiar with those stories if the healers, the games, the temples, and the oracles, etc. On that trip too, we visited Rome and Pompeii, so I have imagined the Gladiators, the forum, the baths, etc. so not much was new to me in that era of topics either. Actually, some of the only unfamiliar material was in his more detailed discussions of the death practices. I took a class too, during my study abroad in Scotland, on the Celts and wrote papers on Boudicca and Roman architecture in Britain, so nothing new to speak of from those lectures. Most of what he discussed in the Medieval section I knew from having read the really great historical fiction Katherine by Anya Seaton - that book had everything from Chaucer himself and the royal court, knights, the peasants, the plague, the castles, the heretics, and more...
I did like that he put being a knight and a crusader into better perspective, that is so very romanticized generally. The penultimate lecture on relaxing - sports and music etc was good too.
Basically, I have reaffirmed that I would not have wanted to live in any of those times or places. If I had, I'd have likely been abused if I lived past childhood at all, and would have likely have died in childbirth by now, and if not, I still can't expect to live more than another ten years and will likely do so in poverty. And thank goodness for modern medicine!
Oh, and I can't forget to mention this cause it bugged me the whole 24+ hours : Prof Garland is a good lecturer and really into his stuff, but his lisp drove me nuts. He sounds completely normal, even stereotypical British classicist -until he pronounces the letter "s"... Having studied some articulatory phonetics, I think I can say fairly that his sibilants were overly lateralized, creating a big messy "shh" sound amidst otherwise good elocution. I don't mean to hold it against him, but it Drove me nuts. Listen to the sample before buying, in case that's a deal breaker for you.
Over all a very interesting lecture series. But the lecturer is clearly anti Catholic hierarchy. That is revealed at Lecture 41 approx. 20:40 when he discusses Francis of Assisi. First he states that Francis order was known as Fratichelli. Then is states the Church's rejected the "little brothers" and excommunicated them. WOW. The Church excommunicated St. Francis' order? Well not quite. St. Francis and the Franciscans were never excommunicated and were always embraced by pope and the Church. Some orders that the Italian people designated as Fraticelli were considered heretical by the Church. It's a bit disappointing that type of juxtaposition is used to create a false impression of historical facts.
The lecture's anti-Catholic hierarchy is clear in his discussions of the Churches influence on medieval daily life. I emphasize his disdain is directed at Church hierarchy because he goes out of his way to laud the contributions of monks, priests, nuns and other church people in their aid and comfort of everyday people.
With that caveat, I would recommend this series.
As the title indicates, this is unequivocally one of the best listens I've ever had the delight of finding here on Audible!
Knowing a thing or two about anthropology, I had one or two very minor quibbles with one detail or another, (specifically whether pre-Neolithic Revolution life was characterized by fear and suffering, where fossil evidence shows the rampant rise of malnutrition and disease afterwards indicating a lower quality of life for several millennia) but there are always debates in this field. These are, however, far, far, over shadowed by Garland's profound humanity, conscientiousness, and care. There were a number of times his heartfelt compassion for right's of men, women, children, and the disadvantaged literally brought tears to my eyes. There were a few times I think Garland had tears in his eyes! His critiques of the discriminations of ancient attitudes towards sexual identity, culture, class, etc., are canny, and obviously informed by a genuine empathy and open mindedness. They are not the natural insights of someone who is posturing these qualities, and it was refreshing to hear.
Garland himself has a staggered sort of way of speaking, one brought on I think by fervour, and which I found quite charming. He is entertaining and articulate.
The course often employs a second person narrative, and this walkthrough of ancient life was almost like a dramatic exercise or hypnosis. It draws you right along, puts you right in the shoes, and is very effective, absorbing, and quite fun.
The information fed my curiosity for the minutiae of day to day ancient life, while also providing enlightening geopolitical context. It was also lovely to hear such up to date information, including homonids like the recently unearthed Homo Floresiensis.
This course was engaging, educational, entertaining, inspiring and insightful. I can say something of this series which I think to be the truest compliment, that is that I've learned so much by it. I've come away with more from this course than many of the myriad books I've read collectively, and never felt my mind stray for a moment. Garland has only two courses here on Audible, the other of which I gobbled up immediately, sincerely cannot wait for his next.
How excited Professor Robert Garland was to share all the fascinating information about what it meant to live as an ordinary person in a time when most of what we know has to do with the extraordinary names of history.
That it offered information and perspective into what the style of life throughout the history of humanity would have meant for someone like myself.
His enthusiasm. It's always more interesting to listen to someone who cares about what they're talking about.
Any moment that spoke of the depraved things humans did in a time where there was no condemnation to such acts. There were moments where it was very difficult to hear, for the truth of the words was overwhelming to consider.