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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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-20-13
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-20-13 Member 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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Denver, CO, United States 07-27-13
    Adam Denver, CO, United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2013
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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.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Just Me here and there across the USA 08-09-13
    Just Me here and there across the USA 08-09-13 Member Since 2010
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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.


    3 of 3 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 2004
    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.

    2 of 3 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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sumguynobuddynoes Sioux Falls, SD, United States 11-06-13
    Sumguynobuddynoes Sioux Falls, SD, United States 11-06-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Clears up China's prejudice against the West."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    You can clearly see how the history of the totalitarian regimes for many generations created a submissive peasantry that quietly held disdain for overlords, but were held in check by their cultural upbringing until a leader rises up that can be backed in a cause! How one mother of the last Emperor destroyed the Chinese monarchy and her empire by her vain selfishness and shortsighted vision.

    The course hovers strongly around recent history and focuses on Mao Zhetung whose rise started in an era just after the fall of the last Chinese dynasty. How this little known upstart broke with Chinese tradition by running away from his prearranged marriage at 14. Later he fell madly in love and married only to have his young wife tortured to death by the government warlord. This was the turning point which placed him on a road of opposition to all power and hopes of freeing the all the peasantry under a Leninist Communist System of government that was eventually modified to a Chinese form. By happenstance, he survived many struggles and by stratagem became the last man standing. Almost snuffed out, he was saved by one man, and the advent of WWII. Out-manned, outgunned, and almost out maneuvered, he stood against his enemy, took the battle to the masses, and exiled his enemy from the mainland. He became that which he most despised: an all powerful dictator, who made rash decisions costing the lives of millions (which he blamed on the masses themselves). He was so brilliant and incompetent at the same time. Blackmailing his way into power, and maintaining an iron hand to maintain power. He dumbed down the populace to make himself the smartest man in the nation (which was not that smart). Chinese people live in constant fear of their government, but at the same time they fanatically support it.

    The recent Chinese history showed the fallacy of the communist system, which looks great on paper, but clearly was shown how it fails with the intervention of our own human nature. Corruption when positions of power are maintained; freeloader mentality when no work will still provide food, shelter, and basic needs guaranteed. [Except when there is no food, then everyone starves... together (Even though large quantities of food were shipped as trade goods from your efforts).] ; and leaders surround themselves with yes men leading to lies, deceit, blame, and cover up to stay... yes men. Only one person's opinion mattered, and there are no rules on how to find favor with that one person. Laws, promises, and contracts were made and broken shortly thereafter for the convenience of the ruling few resulting in imprisonment, brainwashing, and execution. There law has little credence, people have a mussled voice, and "it's good to be the king" (Mel Brooks - History of the World part 2) or emperor/dictator.

    I found the course very introspective. I understand why there is such animosity to the West. I do not blame them in the least when the Western nations were making record profits off of China's Opium drug addiction by actively pushing the drugs on the black market. When China pushed back, Queen Victoria turned a blind eye, the Western nations fought China and extorted money and lands. More money than China had a means to pay! They dissolved the Sovereignty of China through occupation, forced annexations, and coerced contracts under threat of violence. I would be pretty peeved at outsiders myself if I had to call this my country's history.

    However, things seem to be turning around. For better or worse is to be seen. China is teetering on the edge of greatness or poised for world domination.

    I really enjoyed the pace and clear way in which the lessons were organized. The professor has a friendly tone, and wonderful anecdotes of a personal nature for insight to the most recent of the modern Chinese history. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in trying to understand the far eastern culture.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Oh most definitely. The book "1421" and "1434" revealed how the ignorance of the Chinese Monarchy stopped man's progress, and then allowed the rest of the world to surpass it. The year 1421, the Chinese were 100's of years ahead of Europe and the rest of the world. By the end of the 19th century, the old rusty canons and aged ancient weapons were no match for the French, Russian, Japanese, and English forces. They were behind 100 years. What a twist of fate that could have changed the face of our world.

    I have moved on to another Great Courses course "From Yao to Mao. 5000 years of Chinese History". We seem to be familiar with our Western Civilization, but ignore a whole other world on the other side of the globe as if it doesn't exist. I wonder what would have happened if Marco Polo hadn't brought that first firecracker back from China and the wonders traded from the silk road. The English would still be sipping their tea in little cups, and the feudal system in Europe may still have stayed in existence without the introduction of paper from China. How we seem to forget these great impacts in our own cultures.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Gregory S. Aldrete’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He presents the material in a very organized way, with examples to expand on new terms and ideas. He clearly anticipates the questions that certain actions leave unanswered and quickly fills in the missing link to enlighten our understanding. He does not ramble, is not monotone, stays on subject. Any time he digresses, it is with a story that elaborates the subject matter being discussed. This enhances the experience of the listener. Overall, easy and a pleasure to listen to.


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

    Nothing.


    Any additional comments?

    No.

    6 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 06-29-14
    David United States 06-29-14 Member Since 2012

    Hellicopter Man

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    "One chapter and got a refund"
    What would have made History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective better?

    The man reviewed cuneiform then said some of our own sylabic alphabet includes characters descended from it. Our alphabet is not sylabic and some letters decend from hyroglyphics, not cuneiform. I double checked.

    I have read entire books on the development of writing and would love to be corrected if I am mistaken.


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    Strange narrative "You will see nothing but sun baked mud" in Mesapotamia as far as the eye can see. Then it will rain and wash away the houses and crops (which you must have missed the first time).


    What three words best describe Professor Gregory S. Aldrete’s voice?

    Not that bad


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

    Visceral dissapointment


    Any additional comments?

    No reason not to try it out. Not everyone knows about cuneiform etc and will not notice. I just lost confidence.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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