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Lisa D Dirkx


  • The Early Middle Ages

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Philip Daileader

    The Early Middle Ages-the years from A.D. 650 to 1000-were crucial to Europe's future social and political development. These 24 lectures trace a journey from Scandinavia across northern and central Europe to the farthest reaches of the Byzantine and Islamic empires, providing an exciting new look an era often simply called the "Dark Ages."

    Mike says: "Amazing Look at the Transition to the Middle Ages!"
    "Not Actually About the Middle Ages"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I think history requires a great narrative and passion about the subject. This lecture series lacked both.

    Next, this lecture series says it covers 650 to 1000 A.D. The actual lecture spends 3/4 of the time discussing events from about 215 to 500 A.D. In other words, less than a quarter of the series is about the time period I thought it would be covering.

    What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This book was not actually about the time period specified 650 to 1000 A.D. It spent an inordinate amount of time on St. Augustine (354 to 430 A.D.), Muhammad (570 to 632 A.D.), and Diocletian (245 to 311 A.D.). The author also spends almost 30 minutes discussing early-Christian views on celibacy. It was weird and disconcerting. In fact, you don't even approach the stated subject matter of the lectures until almost nine hours after you start.

    Also, this lecture is rife with historical inaccuracies.

    Even once you think you're going to get into the meat and potatoes of the Early Middle Ages, this lecture series fails to deliver. It makes a time period, which is really fascinating, seem droll and boring. The author spends 30 minutes discussing the changes made to manuscripts during the Carolingian Renaissance. (They invented spacing between words!) The author spends nary 30 minutes on Britain or Spain during the Middle Ages, choosing instead to focus on the obscure and pedantic.

    Unlike other Great Courses History lectures I've done in the past, this lecture lacked a narrative. This made the whole experience feel scattershot, unorganized, and unfulfilling.

    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator had a cold for three or four of the lectures, which was gross. Even without the cold, he was grating. He had a nervous tick where he would suck saliva through his teeth.

    What character would you cut from The Early Middle Ages?

    I would cut the first nine hours of the lectures (which were outside of the stated scope of the course) and summarize them in one or two lectures. I would also discuss some of the more important figures and battles during the Middle Ages. Really, I would just discuss the Middle Ages.

    Any additional comments?

    I was extremely disappointed by this lecture series. I have done a few Great Courses in the past, and I had enjoyed them. A friend and I decided to listen to this lecture together, and it was so unpleasant.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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