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Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia | [The Great Courses]

Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia

All cultures lie in the shadow of ancient Mesopotamia-the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that is now mostly encompassed by the borders of modern Iraq. In this fascinating series of 36 lectures, an award-winning teacher leads you on a vivid journey through Mesopotamian history-from Neolithic times to the age of Alexander the Great.
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Publisher's Summary

All cultures lie in the shadow of ancient Mesopotamia-the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that is now mostly encompassed by the borders of modern Iraq. In this fascinating series of 36 lectures, an award-winning teacher leads you on a vivid journey through Mesopotamian history-from Neolithic times to the age of Alexander the Great-and into the lives of mighty emperors, struggling farmers, ambitious merchants, and palace servants to reveal why this ancient culture occupies such a foundational position in our history.

The lectures look back to the time when the first cities arose in Mesopotamia and kings created complex bureaucracies to rule their expanding territories, thus fostering the invention of writing and other technologies. You peer into the lives and fortunes of Mesopotamia's people and learn about the birth of the urban lifestyle.

Professor Castor creates a detailed image not only of larger Mesopotamian society but of life on the level of the individual Mesopotamian as well. Among the many fascinating insights into daily Mesopotamian life you examine are how they ate, worked, learned, worshiped, married, and reared children; used scientific ideas to help them order and understand the natural world; engaged with their powerful neighbors in Egypt, Syria, and Anatolia (modern-day Turkey); waged war and experienced peace; and endured the collapse of their cities.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kindle Customer 06-06-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
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    "Trying to get through"
    Would you listen to Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia again? Why?

    There is a very good review from May 2014 (FM Veteran) which says everything I would have written here. If I were reading this lecture rather than listening, my eyes would have become permanently crossed. As it is I am trying very hard to get through this droning presentation. On a side note: Why are there instances of canned clapping before and at the end of each chapter? Distracting and not warranted as an appreciation of this person's presentation.


    If you’ve listened to books by The Great Courses before, how does this one compare?

    One of the worst.


    What didn’t you like about Professor Alexis Q. Castor’s performance?

    See FM Veteran review from AudibleUK May 2014.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clifford OMAHA, NE, United States 12-05-13
    Clifford OMAHA, NE, United States 12-05-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    6
    1
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    "Very good!"
    Any additional comments?

    I felt it very mono-toned and hard to stay focused on her talking, but the information was great.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lady BURNSVILLE, MN, United States 09-10-13
    Lady BURNSVILLE, MN, United States 09-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Amazon Power Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    277
    14
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    "Takes too Long to Educate"

    To be fair, I have not yet made it past Chapter Four. My main problem with the course is that the introduction is far too long. The professor seems more focused on the Iraq war and the ramifications of the war. In fact, even in Chapter Four, we are still being introduced to the topics that we will be talking about, at some point. I don't want a four chapter (or more) introduction.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results
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  • Rachel
    Didcot, United Kingdom
    12/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Educational and interesting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version so I cannot compare.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was factual, yet kept my interest without being patronising


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This was not really an emotional type of book - more of an audio text book, so I was not expecting to laugh of cry, but it did make me think, which is what I want from such a book.


    Any additional comments?

    The pre-set reveiew questions do not seem particularly appropriate for an academic lecture series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • FM Veteran
    UK
    5/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Solid material, patchy production"

    I came to this course straight from its companion piece, The Great Courses’ ‘History of Ancient Egypt’. The two couldn’t be more different. While the latter is populist and frothy, ‘Between the Rivers’ bears the mark of proper scholarship. This will make it a boon to students and a joy for serious amateurs of ancient Mesopotamia, but may be a turn-off for the less zealous reader. Only if you’re ready to listen to half an hour on ‘Assyrian trade routes’, for example, should you press the buy button.

    Dr Alexis Castor plainly knows her stuff and speaks clearly and intelligently. The fly in the ointment is that the production of this one does not appear to have been plain sailing, possibly because her delivery can at times be surprisingly diffident and halting. Hence there are oddities like a first ‘lecture’ that is clearly being read from a script, with ‘spontaneous’ stumbles thrown in; and then, after a couple of perfectly good pseudo-lectures, you get the first of several chunks that have obviously been recorded with a dictating machine! It’s not only shoddy but also distracting, and does no favours to the engaging material. I must say that these two courses together have made me wonder whether The Great Courses isn’t scraping the barrel somewhat for academic talent.

    My one other complaint was that Dr Castor takes every opportunity to drag in references to persons of her own sex, such that she sometimes threatens to sound like Monty Python’s ‘News for Parrots’. That, however, may not be all her fault – I suspect it's mandatory if one wants to impress in American academia nowadays.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Carl
    United Kingdom
    2/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not good."
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People who can't think should enjoy this.


    Has Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia put you off other books in this genre?

    No, just from "Great Courses".


    What didn’t you like about Professor Alexis Q. Castor’s performance?

    Everything. She talks like she doesn't understand the subject.


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

    Rage. She attempts to persuade us that irrigation is a bad thing.


    Any additional comments?

    The facts are broadly correct, but this woman has this weird agenda where she seems to be against the important facts of history and wants to focus on "what women did" and has a particular fetish for the wonders of hunter-gathering despite the "high infant mortality rates" and has a serious aversion to "work". Avoid if you're interested in serious history, or thinking.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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