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Foundations of Eastern Civilization | [The Great Courses]

Foundations of Eastern Civilization

China. Korea. Japan. Southeast Asia. How did Eastern civilization develop? What do we know about the history, politics, governments, art, science, and technology of these countries? And how does the story of Eastern civilization play out in today's world of business, politics, and international exchange?
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Publisher's Summary

China. Korea. Japan. Southeast Asia. How did Eastern civilization develop? What do we know about the history, politics, governments, art, science, and technology of these countries? And how does the story of Eastern civilization play out in today's world of business, politics, and international exchange?

Over the course of 48 ambitious lectures, take a grand journey through Eastern civilization to study everything from the material economy of day-to-day life to the political and religious philosophies that would bind these cultures together for thousands of years. While China is home to some of the great moments in world history and a major focal point for this course, you'll also take several extended forays into Central and Southeast Asia to build a comprehensive picture of Eastern civilization.

"To truly understand the modern world, it is essential to know something about the many extraordinary contributions Eastern civilization has made," Professor Benjamin says. "Simply put, it is not enough to know just the 'Western' half of the story any more-both Eastern and Western are critical to understanding our present and our future."

Now is your chance to fill in the other half of the story. You may be surprised to realize that all of us have been students of Eastern civilization, even if we have not been aware of it. Filled with captivating stories and surprising details, this course will open up an entirely new world for you as it unfolds the story of Eastern civilization.

©2013 The Great Courses (P)2013 The Teaching Company, LLC

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  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-22-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-22-13 Member Since 2009

    Acteon

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A worthwhile "big-history" survey"
    Would you listen to Foundations of Eastern Civilization again? Why?

    Perhaps...at least certain parts.


    What other book might you compare Foundations of Eastern Civilization to and why?

    From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History (The Great Courses, Narrated By Professor Kenneth J. Hammond); The Fall and Rise of China (The Great Courses, Narrated By Professor Richard Baum. The present book is the third lecture series from The Great Courses on China. Of the three, Baum's is much the best but covers mainly the last couple of centuries. Hammond's is a straightforward survey that is rather superficial; it provides the basic information but does not really convey the sense of how things were and why they happened (this is of course always a problem with broad surveys). Benjamin's survey suffers from this too, but he makes up for it by drawing upon archaeological evidence and by including Korea, Japan and southeast asia to put thing into a "big history" perspective.


    What about Professor Craig G. Benjamin’s performance did you like?

    He is energetic and evidently engaged. His Australian accent did not bother me too much, but his problem is his misunderstanding of the Chinese pinyin system of transliteration. He tell us that it is a more intuitive improvement on the older and more complicated Wade-Giles, when in reality pinyin's aim is an unambiguous coding of the sounds of Chinese through the Roman (NOT the English) alphabet. As a result, pinyin is far from intuitive for a speaker of English or any other Western language since it does not refer to any particular Western language; in fact, an English speaker would have a better chance of pronouncing something comprehensibly using Wade-Giles which was based on English. More specifically, the letters x,c,q are impossible to pronounce intuitively; unless their arbitrary phonetic values are learned precisely, the pronunciation will be incomprehensible, as often in this audiobook. E.g. the name Cao-cao is pronounced "Kao-kao" when it should be "tsao-tsao", 'Quan" becomes "Kuan" when it should sound more like "chuan". The distinction between words ending with '-an' and '-ang' is also essential, and here too mistakes render all but incomprehensible names that the reader does not already know. Pinyin is an excellent system, but it needs to be learned in a systematic way. I was dismayed that Prof.Benjamin had not done this.


    Any additional comments?

    There are some factual errors that I don't have time to point out, and in particular Benjamin's understanding of post World-war II China leaves much to be desired (in this area Richard Baum is far more competent). Despite its failings, however, I would still recommend this course for its "big-history" perspective.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 02-26-14
    Saud 02-26-14

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The East Comes Alive"

    There are many resources that examine Chinese history and Chinese civilization, but this is one of the rare resources that cover China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the other nations and civilizations of Central Asia.

    Everything from great leaders, philosophies, economics, religions and their influences from and to other parts of the world and among themselves. It is a deep, rich course leaving you wanting more.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy 10-24-14
    Jeremy 10-24-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Chinese history overview, Japan part less so"
    If you could sum up Foundations of Eastern Civilization in three words, what would they be?

    Very engaging speaker, weaves in interesting stories. Really seems to know Chinese history well. Gives a brief, but good overview of Korean history. Southeast Asia is barely covered, but he does what he can.

    My only qualm was with the Japanese history lectures. Granted he has a lot to cover, but he seems to be a bit out of his depth here. He makes some assertions that a casual student of Japan will find incorrect. (For example, he seems to suggest that all of Heian read the Tale of Genji during Muraski Shikubu's lifetime, when in reality only a few of her close consorts would have heard it.)

    Still, overall I got what I wanted out of this course. A good value for money if you stick with it until the end =)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark AUSTIN, TX, United States 09-02-14
    Mark AUSTIN, TX, United States 09-02-14 Member Since 2009
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    "great overview"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this lecture as an introduction to Chinese/Far Eastern history. I started out not knowing much at all about anything farther east than Persia, and now feel like I have a solid grasp on the general course of Chinese history, and would not like to learn more about a few specific periods and places that I had never heard of before (such as the Kushan empire).

    One thing I did not like about this course was the inconsistent or inaccurate pronunciation of various place names and dynasties. Sometimes he pronounces a word correctly the first time, but then anglicizes it more later--and at times the pronunciation is not only incorrect, but leaves you with an entirely mistaken idea of how it might be spelled (which makes it harder to look further into an interesting topic).

    Otherwise it was an informative and enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DonnaRussell Tempe, AZ, United States 08-20-14
    DonnaRussell Tempe, AZ, United States 08-20-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Lots and lots and lots of information"
    Any additional comments?

    I love the Great Courses for driving. I do a lot of 10 and 15 minute trips and it chops up fiction too much to really enjoy it, but these courses are best taken in small doses. I would never have the time and will to read all these lectures but I enjoy them a lot in spoken teaspoons.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Methecentrist
    4/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "ANOTHER GREAT LECTURE SERIES FROM THE PREMIER GCS"
    What did you like most about Foundations of Eastern Civilization?

    So far i liked the in-depth and expansive look into the various Eastern Civilization


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Empor Wu di. Joking this is not a book.


    What about Professor Craig G. Benjamin’s performance did you like?

    Put simply Professor Craig is well grounded and highly knowledgable about the Eastern civilization. However, i was impressed by his ability to connect events and critical fairly unbaised analysis.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Well you actually can. But i love taking my time to listen to audiobooks especially the ones i find interesting.


    Any additional comments?

    Brilliant work by The Great Courses Series. Only if the Great Courses Had its own University they would produced the most critically and open students yet.

    Professor Criag has opened me up to understanding more about the East and their role in global community.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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