This period of history can be rather dry for a variety of reasons, but Professor Daileader not only manages to put together a course that is fascinating throughout, but his delivery is excellent. There is even a fair amount of humour, which I almost never find in the Great Courses series.
Professor Daileader is easily the best orator in the Great Courses series, and second only to Michael C. Drout from the Modern Scholar series.
Of Professor Daileader's Medieval trilogy, this is probably the weakest offering. The reason I say that is mainly because of my own preference for narrative history rather than social/economic history, of which this course embraces mostly the latter.
That being said, I still highly recommend this course for anyone interested in the period. Daileader's delivery is highly entertaining and he even injects a fair amount of humor to the lectures.
Start with the Early Middle Ages though, since I think that is perhaps the best in the trilogy.
Of all the courses that Thomas Madden has presented for The Modern Scholar series, this is perhaps his best.
He chooses some very interesting topics for discussion and treats each one with the respect and skepticism it deserves. One never gets the idea that he is pushing an agenda or trying to convince us of anything, but simply lets the facts speak for themselves.
My only criticism would be that the course is so short. I think there are many more mysteries he could have dealt with, such as those surrounding the Crusades.
Other than that, highly recommended.
This a tremendously entertaining book, made all the more remarkable because it was written by someone who was very close to Nixon. Unlike so many other books that crucify Nixon from a distance, the personal contact here makes for a fascinating read.
Crowley, who spent many of the finals years of Nixon's life at his side, covers everything from his struggle for relevancy to his opinions on policy and his surprisingly tender human side.
I highly recommend this, though it is a shame how Crowley turned out later in her life. I found her treatment of Nixon even-handed and objective in this book, despite her proximity to him, and though I might enjoy her more recent work. However, it seems as if she has hardened her political views significantly since this was published, and can now only be found on far-right radio shows saying some laughably ridiculous things about politics and the world in general.
Still, this is classic that should not be missed.
This course is not a write-off, but I find it hard to recommend to anyone. My instinct is to say if you are looking for a decent primer on major historical events, with an eye towards delving more deeply into the topics that interest you afterwards, you should pick this up. However, I can't bring myself to doing that.
For my liking, the courses are much too heavily influenced by the lecturer's Christianity and, to a lesser extent, his American patriotism.
Another issue for me was that I simply disagreed with much of what he had to say about certain topics. When covering areas where I am fairly well versed, such as ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, I did not agree with his interpretation or presentation of the facts.
This is not to say that he is completely wrong. He obviously knows his stuff and is never flat-out wrong about the facts, but I just didn't care for his approach all that much. I'd recommend listening to the lectures on Jesus and Constantine, which are some of the most arguably controversial. If his treatment of those topics don't bother you, you might enjoy the whole course.
A fantastic and thorough examination of the Emperors from Augustus to Constantine.
I appreciated his balanced view of each Emperor, and his frank appraisal of the sources. Too many "scholars" take the most sensational tales from lesser sources at face value, but Fagan is careful to point out the problems with many of the most famous and outrageous episodes that have entered popular culture about Emperors like Caligula and Nero.
Fagan's delivery is entertaining throughout, although sometimes he does stumble a little, and it feels as if he is reading from a script rather than just delivering a lecture.
Overall, I would highly recommend this. Perhaps the best summary of the period in question, and I include both written and audio books when I say that.
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