I thought this was completely informative and enjoyable. It does what courses like this do best by taking a topic you know a little bit about and just expanding it. At first, I was skeptical about the Professor but I was wrong. She was knowledgeable and easy to follow. But she also seemed to just genuinely enjoy the topic and have a lot of affection for Herodotus (as odd as that sounds by the end I did too), which really makes you get into it.
The Histories really were an amazing achievement from a person who seemed to be maybe naive maybe intentionally deceptive but, regardless, endlessly curious and inquisitive about just everything. Not just the wars but culture, religion, science. And the Professor conveys that along with conveying facts.
It obviously seems like a narrow and niche topic to pick up. But I really think it is worth it. It really covers a lot about the history of history and of the time. The Professor talks about how Herodotus influences others (even as they were disdainful of him) but I think that has never been more relevant. She doesn't get into it but at this point there is an "oral history" on every topic imaginable floating around. Some are considered classics (Please Kill Me, Live From New York and most of Studs Terkel). And some aren't. But the idea of learning about a topic and a place in time by just talking to a bunch of people and relating what they say word for word even if one contradicts the other has definitely come back into vogue in a very big way. That approach has a lot of flaws when it comes to relating facts and dates (so traditional history is of course important) but it often captures the mood, the feelings, the idea of a place (the real truth) in a way relating the facts can't. And, in that sense, Herodotus has truly never been more relevant.
I thought this was a great overview of an interesting period. The only "critique" I have is that it was a bit of a slow start. The professor sort of glossed over Henry VII, in my opinion. But after that he was consistently enjoyable and engaging. And does a great balance of the big events of history and some social, political and economic history
A great overview of the periods covered. It is just an overview of a large period of time so a lot is left out. But it doesn't feel that way when you listen. The Professor has a nice conversational style but is clearly very knowledgeable. I appreciate the occasional pauses to discuss culture or living conditions of the country. But the real story is the kings and sometimes their queens. I would say the lectures get stronger about the time of the Norman Conquest (which is pretty early in). More interesting but also the Professor seems on slightly more solid ground.
I really recommend it.
The professor gives a lot of interesting insight into the plays. Other lectures will get into the more technical aspects or the plays. But this felt more like a discussion about the plays themselves, which was delightful.
I really enjoyed both this and The Iliad. The professor is knowledgeable and fleshed out the story. But she retained the sense of wonder at the enormous achievement So much of Homeric studies have lost the amazement at wonder at an amazing work of literature by focusing too much on the mechanics of who and how.
But it is very obvious that this and The Iliad were one course. She references back to things form the previous course and does not include the introductory lectures on Homer, which are necessary. And she refers to it as a Homer course. I did listen to The Iliad first so this was no loss for me but if you don't then you are losing something. More importantly a very obvious way to scam credits off of people by Audible.
It is definitely a meandering book and fairly different than most history books, in a way I think more historians would dislike. But I felt that that approach served this topic fairly well. A survey covering the growth and change of the American economy during this time period isn't about a war or another easily charted even with a clear beginning and end. I enjoyed the different looks at the North, South and West. The looks at the high and low classes and how politics began to be wrapped up in economics in a way it had never quite had (in the US) before.
I think many are put off but the use of "capitalism" v. "democracy" and I agree that nothing could ever be so simplified (and our system of government, while flawed, is far more democratic now than it was in 1864). But I think in context it works because the point is explaining how this concept of capitalism sort of took over the country. Capitalism wasn't new, of course, but the US did drastically change between 1865 and 1895 and an event like the Civil War was probably more of a byproduct of the change than a cause of it.
It did have its laws. I felt more time could have been spent on certain titans like JP Morgan. And after thorough introduction of the likes of Rockefeller and Carnegie they are sort of dropped for awhile. Part of the meandering narrative is that things do seem to sort of get lost in the fray. But a great many wonderful books have been devoted to those people.
It was an interesting topic. Some parts were better than others. But I really think it is worth it overall.
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