We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life Lecture

Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

Regular Price:$41.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

Why do "Great Books" continue to speak to us hundreds and even thousands of years after they were written? Can they deepen our self-knowledge and wisdom? Are our lives changed in any meaningful way by the experience of reading them?

Tackle these questions and more in these 36 engaging lectures. Beginning with his definition of a Great Book as one that possesses a great theme of enduring importance, noble language that "elevates the soul and ennobles the mind," and a universality that enables it to "speak across the ages," Professor Fears examines a body of work that offers extraordinary wisdom to those willing to receive it.

You'll study dozens of works, from the Aeneid and the book of Job to Othello and 1984 - works that range in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America. Professor Fears approaches each of these works from an entirely different direction, considering philosophical and moral perspectives that superbly complement a purely literary understanding.Grasping these philosophical and moral perspectives is crucial to the education of every thoughtful person. These works that have shaped the minds of great individuals, who, in turn, have shaped events of historic magnitude. You'll study the underlying ideas of each great work to see how these ideas can be put to use in a moral and ethical life."History is our sense of the past," Professor Fears says. "And these Great Books are our links to the great ideas of the past. They educate us to live our lives in a free and responsible way."

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (545 )
5 star
 (290)
4 star
 (137)
3 star
 (65)
2 star
 (30)
1 star
 (23)
Overall
4.2 (487 )
5 star
 (268)
4 star
 (112)
3 star
 (59)
2 star
 (26)
1 star
 (22)
Story
4.2 (491 )
5 star
 (264)
4 star
 (126)
3 star
 (56)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (27)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-06-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-06-14

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    903
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    247
    230
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    87
    88
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A course that will open you to new ideas."

    This course is about exploring the greatest books ever written that changed the world.
    It also explains why they are great and how they affected those around them. Professor Fears is a great lecturer and always keeps things interesting. Each lecture is around a half hour each so great to listen to on your commute or when you have a short time to devote to the lecture.

    The books per Prof. Fears are:
    1. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    2. Homer 's Illyiad
    3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    4. Bhagavad Gita
    5. Exodus by Moses
    6. The book of Mark in the New Testament
    7. Koran
    8. Gilgamesh
    9. Beowolf
    10. Job
    11. Oresteia by Aeschylus
    12. The Bacchae by Euripides
    13. Phaedo by Plato
    14. The Divine Comedy by Dante
    15. Othello by W Shakespeare
    16. Prometheus Bound
    17. Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn
    18. Julius Caesar by W Shakespeare
    19. 1984 by George Orwell
    20. The Aeneid by Virgil
    21. Gettysburg Address by A Lincoln
    22. Pericles Funeral Speech
    23. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
    24. Confucius
    25. The Prince by Machiavelli
    26. Plato's Republic
    27. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
    28. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory
    29. Faust Parts One and Two by Goethe
    30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    31. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons
    32. Lord Acton's History of Liberty
    33. On Duties by Cicero
    34. Autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi
    35. My Early Life, The Second World War series and Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill
    The last lecture goes over the books quickly and talks about the lessons taught and that the best way to pursue knowledge is to open your minds and meditate on each book in order to let what the author is trying to tell you sink in.
    I highly recommend this class. It opened up a whole new world to explore for me.

    138 of 141 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-01-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    31
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just about ok"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes it was since I got a wikipedia style introduction to some great books.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    That question is not applicable amazon! Why don't you just let us write free style reviews?


    What three words best describe Professor Rufus J. Fears’s voice?

    Southern drawl. I was amusingly distracted by his pronunciation of "dooty".


    Was Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life worth the listening time?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    I liked the treatment of the non-fiction books better than that of the fiction. For example, discussion of Othello, 1984, All is quiet on the Western front etc was nothing more than a dramatic rendering of the summary. What I expected to hear more was a discussion of the underlying themes. For the non fiction works such as the works of Winston Churchill or Gandhi, the treatment was much better. All in all, it was an average course. I do not regret listening to it, but I was not enthralled by it either.

    26 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George R. Murray Boise, ID USA 10-17-13
    George R. Murray Boise, ID USA 10-17-13

    It kills me to think of how many years I've wasted driving around in my car and doing house/yard work when I could have been learning.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating, Entertaining, Impactful: Best Course"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Having listened to 15 Great Courses over the last couple months, I took this course with a little trepidation, largely based on the mediocre Teach Company reviews. Yet something strange happened right from the first lecture: each book was fascinating, his lecture style became more contagious, and most importantly, I began to see the crucial importance of his underlying messages. The first statement of the course title is pretty clear cut and these books have accomplished the claim of making history because they're still around (much to the dismay of many students) hundreds...thousands of years after being written. I can make no universal claims for the second part of the title but I can speak for myself--this part was true as well. Similar to the way I felt after reading the last (to date) of George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series, I grieved to be done with this course. What could top this, I wondered? Thankfully, J Rufus has several titles to choose from, so all is not lost. I loved this course and am wiser for it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I thought J Rufus was at his best--and most endearing--when summarizing a story by providing the voices of its pivotal characters. His drawl and enthusiasm was comical, fun and surprisingly effective in demystifying and contemporizing often ancient characters...so the Gilgamesh lecture was particularly enjoyable.


    What does Professor Rufus J. Fears bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    J Rufus takes 30+ books and weaves the strands of their shared virtues, overarching themes, and contemporary relevance into critically important message for today's society. That would be a tough feat to duplicate by reading any one, two or dozen of these books on my own. By experiencing J Rufus's course as a whole, I came to understand that so much of what is portrayed in this course seems to be missing--though is seemingly not missed--from our 21st century.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Antiquity's Plea


    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Will Menlo Park, CA, USA 10-07-15
    Will Menlo Park, CA, USA 10-07-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good if you don't mind the Christian-centric bias"

    The performance is very good, though. Lots of passion for the material.

    Mostly centered around Western values, with a few token efforts to mold Eastern thinking into the Western "canon" of antiquity.

    Still enjoyable, despite the caveats, and a very decent intro to the material.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kwt 02-13-15
    kwt 02-13-15

    mama_karen

    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    231
    55
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superior listen"

    Wow! Excellent lectures on literature but also on history and ethics. I learned so much from this man and he has inspired me to search further. I especially appreciated the last few lectures. They really spoke to me. I highly recommend this series.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-31-14
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-31-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    743
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    539
    311
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    58
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not What I Expected"

    This was my second "course." As much as I absolutely loved the first one, this course was a huge disappointment. I expected more of a literature appreciation type discussion of great titles. This, however, was the instructor just telling the story of his favorite books. Yeah, every so often he brings up his list of characteristics of why a book is great, but there is not the literary discussion I craved. His narration was animated, for sure telling a good story. But when bringing up the discussion points was awful.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich Shields Abuja, Nigeria 04-09-15
    Rich Shields Abuja, Nigeria 04-09-15

    Abu Dhabi, UAE

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth ur time"

    A nice way to catch up on all the great books you knew where great but had no idea why.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eve 03-10-16
    eve 03-10-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    75
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Could not endure this program"

    The presentation was so tedious, so monotonous, and so pedantic it was like listening to nails scraping on a chalkboard. I completed 2 chapters, and then kept avoiding listening to more until it was too late to return the course and ask for a refund.
    Compare this course to "24 Books that Changed the World." I loved every second of it and was frustrated that I couldn't lavish more than 5 stars on it. Go figure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 09-07-15
    Peter 09-07-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is a preacher, not a professor"
    What disappointed you about Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life?

    Content, level of scholarship, lecturing style are all disappointing.


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

    It would have been better if this was never made into an offering from The Great Courses.


    What didn’t you like about Professor Rufus J. Fears’s performance?

    His style is that of a preacher, not a professor. Also, he is wrong on many details: he makes statements which are simply false.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Irritation. I simply stopped listening. Happiness that it cost me only $6.50.


    Any additional comments?

    This series of lectures gives a bad name to the academia, and to The Great Courses.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis W. Bobbitt Great Falls, MT USA 07-26-15
    Curtis W. Bobbitt Great Falls, MT USA 07-26-15 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    94
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awful Presentation Style"
    What did you like best about Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life? What did you like least?

    The books that Professor Fears covers qualify as "great." His definition of "great books" also creates coherence for the series.


    How could the performance have been better?

    More natural vocal pacing would greatly improve Professor Fears's presentation. His frequent pauses of up to two seconds in the middle of sentences distract from the information.


    Any additional comments?

    Professor Fears pontificates. For many of the books, he claims that the features he mentions are THE purpose or point of the masterpieces. For complex works such as The Iliad and The Divine Comedy, these absurd declarations diminish the lecturer's credibility.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.