The format of 48 half-hour lectures is very accessible and Professor Garland is an excellent speaker. The diversity of topics and focus (mostly) on the life of the masses was interesting and unique, for example, thinking about the houses and food for the builders of the pyramids gave me new insight to Egyptian history.
Egypt, Greece, Rome, Celtic and Norse England are covered in depth with other areas of the world also receiving attention. Topics include "Being an Egyptian Worker." "Being a Greek Woman." Religious groups are spoken of as well.
Sometimes Prof. Garland got a bit judgmental - he didn't seem to attempt a straight relation of facts. This happened mostly with snide comments or condemnation of slavery or the subjugation of women. I found these comments distracting and unnecessary (I don't need a PhD to tell me these things are morally wrong). Perhaps Prof. Garland was uncomfortable sharing this information? It really brought down the level of the lecture from what I would consider a "great course" to a rather common pop-history.
I did mostly enjoy these lectures. There were enough references to historical events to keep me grounded and relate back to things I've already learned about but the themes around how these events affected common people kept the series interesting.
This course was a delight. Without a plot, it was easy to pick up after a break, which was important with such a long recording. The instructor did an outstanding job of making the mundane come to life. You will never look at history in the same way. A bargain at one point!
Garland's ability as a story-teller and use of the second person to "put you in the sandals" of the ancient peoples that he describes, makes this is a vivid and engaging listen. He even has some pretty funny jokes if you listen for them. This would certainly be one of the most fun college courses to take at a University.
One of the most memorable moments I think is actually in the beginning, as he describes the chaos of the Thera volcano explosion and "your" flight from the island. I really got the sense of a peaceful fishing village in the Aegean bronze age being thrown into a nightmare-ish fit of destruction with the ensuing terror. But the description of medeival Britain and Chaucer's Canterburry Tales, battle as a Greek hoplite, and an Egyptian farmer are all quite memorable.
Although it's not a book but a lecture series, it would have been made for an entertaining read. However it's Garland as a story-teller that sets this apart as an audio-series.
This series would have been a pretty serious commitment to listen to all in one sitting, but with the continuity of topics, it's very easy to listen to for long periods.
This is curious; in fact very curious. You do not find much about normal life in taught history or in literature. Oh it is there, of course it is, to an extent, but it is not focused in on.
In this course the very idea of just normal boring life across our history is pulled together and presented in an such a delicate manner. I have to say it is so simple yet so moving and interesting considering how boring many would ascribe such a concept to be.
There is no great Generals, or great deeds, yet the lectures pull you in just as if there was. The lectures turn every day people, like us, into people as fascinating as great leaders by truly putting us in normal peoples shoes through a journey in time.
The lecturer is easy to listen to with such a nice flow because he really is excited about his course himself. You can hear this excitement and it carries.
Wonderful one of the more curious teaching company (great courses) or real life University courses I have experienced and I must have experienced 100's.
Highly recommended for those new to history and those experienced alike as the prospect either side of the coin in your educational journey will truly enlighten your grasp of history.
Although advertised as a cross-cultural perspective on ancient life, there's a nod towards ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia but the bulk of lectures concerns what it was like to be an ordinary, every day pre-Alexandrian Greek.
Was more interested in hearing about cross-cultural norms rather than simply ancient Greek life. Even a comparison between ancient Greece and ancient Rome would have proved more interesting; advertising this as a comparative look at ancient life is in fact incorrect.
Charismatic lectures that wrapped you in the sounds, sights, and smells of ancient civilizations past.
Though there are named characters this really does not seem to apply.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. It truly leaves you wanting more from Professor Garland.
Yes, definitely. It was very easy to get into and was packed with interesting facts and information.
It told history in a way that was easy to relate to and imagine. It also went into a lot of civilizations I love, like Egyptians and the Medieval period.
I'd say the chapters about the Egyptians. I also liked how informative the chapters on Greek and Romans were.
"History, told in a unique perspective."
Any lover of History or The Great Courses should definitely not miss this one.
If History has ever seem boring and dry to you, this is a truly incredible opportunity to find out what you have been missing. Extremely well researched, easy to follow, fun to listen at times, painful at others, but never dull. Professor Garland makes it so clear and human. He is the teacher that makes you love History. I will listen to it again...and probably again...
No - the presentation by the professor is outstanding and that would be missing from the book. However a book on the same topic would be interesting in its own right.
One of the theme throughout the whole 48 lesson course was how the common people were remarkably similar in that they shared the same hardships and threats throughout history. Indeed history does seem to repeat itself.
There really aren't any scenes as course in the great course series -
Again this course could never be made into a film.
Your can tell that this was a labor of love by Professor Garland whose knowledge and passion for the subject bring alive an insight to the other side of history, that of the common people. His presentation is perfectly pitched to provide interesting education together with that spark which brings to life his subject. This is only the second in the Great Courses series where I have awarded 5 stars and I don't do so lightly - all 48 lectures were a truly enjoyable experience.
I keep getting distracted by the guy's slur or lisp. I just can't get past it. The story is really good but I just can't concentrate because of the voice.