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History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective | [The Great Courses]

History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective

The ancient world has cast a long shadow, influencing our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.
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Publisher's Summary

The ancient world has cast a long shadow, influencing our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.

Grasping the full scope of your bequest from the ancient world can't help but give you a more nuanced base from which to make decisions and choose pathways in your own life. These 48 lectures take you on a multidisciplinary journey that ranges across not only the traditional domains of politics and war that are normally the province of history courses, but also those of religion, philosophy, architecture and the visual arts, literature, and science, and more.

You'll examine the ancient world's greatest civilizations from the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Americas - including those of Rome, Greece, China, Persia, India, and the Maya - not in isolation but in the full context of where they came from, the cultures that flourished around them at the same time, and the civilizations that were to come from them. Taking a comparative approach, Professor Aldrete's course includes in-depth analyses of not only key individuals and historical moments, but also history's most important themes, from the nature of rulership and the evolution of religion and philosophy to the practice of warfare and the expression of power through art and architecture.

With its mix of nuanced interpretation, vivid description, and constant attention to exploring history as a coherent whole, this is sure to be one of the most informative and thought-provoking history courses you have ever taken.

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.

©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-20-13
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-20-13 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding - Informative AND Entertaining"

    For me this was one of those 'Can't put it down' epic audio titles. What's more I feel a better person for having listened to it.

    Overall, very informative, thought provoking and truly entertaining. I've learned loads and am now looking for more history titles of comparable quality.

    It's massive in scope and is truly global in that it manages to weave in all the major civilisations of antiquity. I'd say he's best on Mediterranean and European cultures. At least the coverage of these cultures seems more detailed. It seems to me a Westerner's perspective. However, there's some good stuff on China, India and the Americas. I found it gave me a good introduction to these other cultures.

    It's very easy to turn history into a dry collection of facts and dates. This lecture series strikes a good balance between facts and colourful anecdotes character examinations and other diversions. For example, there is a wonderful section on the mind boggling and downright weird Spartans. I couldn't stop laughing as he talked about them. But at the same time, I learned all about a culture that up until a couple of weeks ago, for me had been little more than the name of an ancient group of war-like people who'd once fought the Persians.

    His presentation style is really good - full of enthusiasm, wonder and humour. For me he spoke at just the right pace, too. Unlike many other titles, even history - I found this very easy to listen to whilst on the treadmill, walking or doing household chores.

    I'm going to listen to this again in a month or two. Can't recommend it highly enough, it's a really excellent listen.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Just Me 08-09-13
    Just Me 08-09-13
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    "insight into culture, geography and circumstances"
    What did you love best about History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective?

    The insights in how geography, circumstances of the time & place, and other factors have effected the cultures of ancient civilizations. Well presented, with enthusiasm and understanding, as well. I would love to listen to more by Dr. Aldrete.


    What other book might you compare History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective to and why?

    Perhaps Guns, Germs, and Steel, but this is much more credentialed.


    What does Professor Gregory S. Aldrete bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His enthusiasm for the topic might not come out as well. He has a nice speaking voice.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neatoizer Boulder, CO 11-22-14
    Neatoizer Boulder, CO 11-22-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Not exactly a global perspective..."
    If you could sum up History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective in three words, what would they be?

    Roman/Chinese History


    What was one of the most memorable moments of History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective?

    The lectures on China and the Grand Canal and the one lecture on mesoamerica


    Which scene was your favorite?

    -


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

    no, it was exhausting because it's a history lecutre, although I could peronally lisen to it for 3 to 4 hour at a time.


    Any additional comments?

    This was not gobal history by any means. It was primary Greco-Roman history with maybe a quarter of it being chinese history (but only when it could be related to greco-roman), and at most a tenth of the lectures covered civilzation other then the aforementioned. I was quite disapointed by how little other cultures and civliztions were covered and I feel the title is very misleading.Dont get me wrong though this history is very good and the lecutres were over all very intresting and informative. If you are looking for Greco-Roman history this is a great set of lecutres, if on the other hand you are looking for a gobal persective on ancient history you may be sorely disaponited with the euro centric view.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Chesapeake, VA, United States 08-23-14
    Rachel Chesapeake, VA, United States 08-23-14 Member Since 2014

    Girltron/Rabbithorn

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    "Engaging but flawed"

    The first chapter of this lecture series made me anticipate an enjoyable and dynamic course. The lecturer does indeed have an engaging way of speaking. I am VERY disappointed in the quality of the content, however. Aldrete totally ignores the need to qualify his statements and by this means, obscures the fact that he is taking certain positions on the known data. In other words, his interpretations are presented as the only ones.

    I would warn the listener that there is FAR more to be learned about these cultures and that much of what the presenter says is debated material, skewed for dramatic value, or simplified past the point of being strictly reliable. He even fails to explain WHY he takes these positions.

    As an example: he characterizes Egypt as (apart from the Nile) a largely forbidding and uninhabitable place in spite of the fact that prehistoric Egypt was much more humid and habitable than it is today, so that a large part of the oldest Egyptian archaeology is located in what is now desert; and the fact that agriculture took hold later in this region simply because the hunting and gathering OUTSIDE the Nile valley was so productive that agriculture was not necessary until the eastern and western deserts began drying out more (though not to the extent of today), and when Egypt had become a set of fledgeling states with larger populations and centralized authorities in need of profitable surplusses. Aldrete even makes the remark that he doesn't think anyone would have settled in Egypt were it not for the Nile; ignoring the almost certain fact that Egypt was the funnel through which humans settled, in multiple waves, Europe and Asia: BECAUSE it was a viable and relatively easy place to live and travel. This includes the areas outside of the river valley.

    I would highly recommend instead the Great Courses series "Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations" by Professor Brian Fagan, which while it predates some of the most recent genetic information re: Neanderthals and modern humans, is scrupulous to point out the various sides of each debate in which he has a favorite perspective. Dr. Fagan also has the advantage of a great deal more hands on experience in the archaeology of ancient cultures. His presentation is dryer but his content is FAR superior.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy McNeal 08-21-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent."
    Where does History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 5


    What other book might you compare History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective to and why?

    The other books in the great courses series. 30 minutes is the perfect length of time.


    What about Professor Gregory S. Aldrete’s performance did you like?

    Engaging, and easy to follow along. Good tempo and rhythm. The performance can really make or break a book, and this one was very good.


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

    It wasn't really that kind of book.


    Any additional comments?

    Very well done.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt CENTERTON, AR, United States 11-05-13
    Matt CENTERTON, AR, United States 11-05-13 Member Since 2013
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    "I love History"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. This is a great introduction to a history of the ancient world.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I was surprised at how interesting the politics of Rome were.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete – was your favorite?

    The narrator is very enthusastic and you can tell he really loves this subject.


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

    Yes, I found myself finding excuses to listen to these lectures.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam 07-27-13
    Adam 07-27-13
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    "You won't be disappointed!!"
    What does Professor Gregory S. Aldrete bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Passion for the material presented was very apparent.


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

    Loved every moment...sad it had to end.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    richard los angeles, cA, United States 09-04-13
    richard los angeles, cA, United States 09-04-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed this very much"

    Well worth your time . Nicely organized and presented. The "Great Courses" series has got a lot going for it. Easy to listen to and very informative.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Honest Reviews 07-21-15
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    "Exceptional content. Excellent delivery."

    Wow! This course was so informative, entertaining and enjoyable! I especially enjoyed the professor's anecdotes and speaking style.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Faye Cousins 06-28-15 Member Since 2009
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    "a real education"

    it was an entertaining series of lectures that explored the social, economic and political evolution. I would have liked more on China and South America and Europe, but I guess that is not ancient enough. Really interesting to listen to in context of what is happening in the world today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • snakedoctor
    8/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A stand out purchase - fantastic"
    Any additional comments?

    I've bought one audiobook a month from Audible for several years and this has to be in the top 3. If you're like me you've got an interest in the ancient world but wanted an overview before getting to know one civilisation better than the rest. This isn't just a whistle-stop tour, Prof Aldrete takes time to explain everything at exactly the right pace, weave the stories that make up history together smoothly and remain entertaining at all times.

    Unlike some non-fiction, you don't have to concentrate on every word, the delivery is not too fast and not too heavy going. I find myself repeating interesting facts about the Indus Valley or Sparta when talking to friends and family, that I seem to have picked up without realising. It's not just the big things like the Pyramids and the Great Wall, but lots of small anecdotes about archaeologists and quirky historical figures. I genuinely look forward to getting in the car to listen to another instalment.

    He's also very balanced. Often Western books can be somewhat Euro-centric but I genuinely feel I'm getting a world perspective here. And it's not simply a chronology of what happened when, but the significance of events is discussed, and the importance of ideas. For example a wonderful chapter focussed on the influence of a period in time when Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster and the Ionian Rationalists were all spreading their knowledge with the world. You really get a sense of an exciting time in history.

    If I had one criticism, it is that the good Prof overuses the word 'literally' to a criminal degree. He uses it correctly, but way too much. He literally says it dozens of times per lecture. But that's literally the only down side. It has literally been one of the best audiobooks I've heard. Go buy it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • N C Hooper
    7/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting throughout"

    Listened in the car to and from work. I even played a few back twice to endure u understood fully. I recommend to all as the definitive ancient history course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tomy EG
    3/20/15
    Overall
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    Story
    "I feel enlightened. Best investmed commute time"

    I feel enlightened. Best investmed commute time. Great to be able to use stories from history in meetings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Manning
    London
    1/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating and enjoyable"

    I loved listening to this. The narrator is engaging and I found the material covered fascinating. My only criticism is that it ended the course is over 20hrs listening yet I could happily have listened to over twice that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nigel Leech
    11/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entertaining, straightforward, and informative"
    What made the experience of listening to History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective the most enjoyable?

    This course was a delight to listen to. Books on history can be dry, or deal with the same things as lots of other books, but these talks are fun and easy to follow. I gained a much better understanding for the sweep of ancient history, and discovered many things both about history and ancient civilisations. This is not an academic course, but it is given by someone gifted with the ability to make history informative and easy.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Alexander the Great


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Everything, every period and culture, every single lecture


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Civilisation: location is everything


    Any additional comments?

    I'll be looking for other courses by the same guy, and I've already bought several in the same series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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