Quite simply, this was the most fascinating history I have ever read. I am grateful to David McCullough for his meticulous research and masterful writing. He has allowed me to personally know two of the nation's finest and most noble citizens, John and Abigail Adams.
I am also grateful to the narrator, Nelson Runger, whose voice fit the subject matter perfectly. It is clear he knew the book, the times and the characters inside and out.
"John Adams" is now on my ipod, my iphone and on my Kindle; it goes where I go and I intend to listen to it again and again.
Readers of (listeners to) this scholarly work should be prepared to spend a great deal of time on the complex details of intellectual, religious and Catholic church history and on how they were impacted by ancient Aristotelian thought as it was discovered and rediscovered again and again during the Middle Ages. This subject matter is punctuated by beautifully written personal stories of historical figures including Aristotle, Hypatia, Boethius, Peter Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, Wiliam of Ockham, Meister Eckhart, etc.
The book makes clear that the bitter opposition, censorship and persecution that Copernicus and Galileo experienced at the hands of the Catholic Church had been experienced in one way or another by many other individuals long before them. In addition, it becomes clear how profoundly The Renaissance (and later, The Enlightenment) was influenced by the enlightened thinkers of the Middle Ages, who in turn trace the origins of their thought back to the Golden Age of Greece. As the author states: "No thinker dominated Western intellectual life so completely and for such a long time as did the philosopher. " Aristotle indeed has many children.
At heart, the book is about the battle of belief systems. It is summed up in this sentence from the beginning of the book: "The Aristotelian Revolution transformed Western thinking and set our culture on a path of scientific inquiry that it has followed ever since the Middle Ages."
I would recommend this book to anyone with a deep interest in the intellectual history of human reason in the Western World. I also can't recommend highly ennough The Modern Scholar series of lectures by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: "Ideas that Shaped Mankind"availalbe here at audible.com.
Those who enjoy Barbara Tuchman's history of the tumultuous 14th Century will likely have 1) a fascination for the Middle Ages, 2) a passion for exhaustive historical detail, and 3) an in-depth knowledge of the events of the 14th Century so that they don't loose sight of the forest for the trees.
Nadia May, the reader, is superb.
A scholarly work that will be primarily of interest to dedicated students of the age, Sailing from Byzantium chronicles the profound influence that the 1000-year old Byzantine Empire had on 1) Europe and the Renaissance, 2) Slavic countries (Russia and the "Third Rome") and 3) the Islamic world. Of particular interest to me were the Byzantine humanists who played a critical role in the transmission of Hellenic thought and classical knowledge to the world. The eminent scholar, Chrysoloras, and other Byzantine humanists carried by hand many of the ancient Greek writings to from Constantinople to early Renaissance Italy and were profoundly influential on the flowering of new thought and the intense creativity of the time.
Having recently listened to the very fine introduction to Roman History - The Modern Scholar: A History of Ancient Rome, I was interested in reading a little more in depth about Julius Caesar. Although I have little interest in military history, I thoroughly enjoyed Caesar's Legion and was amazed at the detail and wealth of knowledge about this time in history that is available, and that the author made use of to write this book.
A wonderful storyteller, Dando-Collins gives us a vivid and compelling portrait of Julius Caesar, the man, the military leader, and the legions he fashioned. Although much of the book is devoted to Julius Caesar, several chapters continue the story of the Roman Legions, the 10th in particular, long past his assassination.
Readers with a passion of ancient military history will likely appreciate the book more than I did; however, anyone with an interest in Roman history should find great enjoyment in the book.
Stuart Langton does a fine job of narration.
All in all, a great read!
A lushly produced audiobook with music, sound effects and many different voices and cadences ... all of which help paint a vivid picture of this fascinating man and his story. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in ancient history who wants to enrich their understanding of Alexander of Macedon and his times.
I would recommend these lectures to anyone who has an interest in Homer's story of Troy "The Iliad", an interest in ancient Greek history, or in archaeology.
Dr. Cline's in-depth knowledge of all these complex subjects is obvious; yet he has a real talent for communicating with the general listener and making the subject matter easily understandable and ... fascinating.
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