I was led to believe that this course was going to be an unbiased look at how commoners lived in various ancient societies. It does give a lot of interesting historical information, but I found the professor giving the lecture to be very narrow-minded, in practice. He applies all sorts of 20th/21st century biases to his talk -all sorts of condescending little remarks about how "unenlightened" or "misogynistic" a society was, for example. He seems to take it for granted that our modern attitudes and morals are unquestionably correct, and evaluates and judges the past based on them, which I find unacceptable in an academic historian, though it is sadly very common. There is more to ancient Greece or Egypt than "OMG, they had slaves!!!" Part of being a historian is to recognize our own biases, and attempt to minimize them in our evaluation of history, rather than embracing them. Education is about broadening horizons and thinking critically, rather than smugly judging everything based on our own prejudices -right or wrong though they may objectively be. This is an interesting set of lectures, make no mistake, but it is definitely geared toward popular taste, rather than academic.
Do yourself a favor and get this, right now. The reading is superb, and the author handles the beautiful 19th century English and the pronunciation of French names superbly. The story is simply enthralling, as well. I have listened to this audiobook in its lengthy entirety probably a half-dozen times, and each time I still pick up on new, subtle nuances. This is simply a delight to the mind and the ears, and you will not want to press the pause button.
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