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London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World | [The Great Courses]

London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World

No city has had as powerful and as enduring an impact on Western civilization as London. But what made the city the perfect environment for so many great developments? How did London endure the sweeping historical revolutions and disasters without crumbling? Find the answers to these questions and more in these 24 fascinating lectures.
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Publisher's Summary

No city has had as powerful and as enduring an impact on Western civilization as London. But what made the city the perfect environment for so many great developments? How did London endure the sweeping historical revolutions and disasters without crumbling? Find the answers to these questions and more in these 24 fascinating lectures.

Professor Bucholz takes you through the history of this magnificent metropolis, from its birth as an ancient Roman outpost to its current status as a global village. You'll study the many epic chapters in British and world history - including the English Renaissance, the turmoil of the English civil war, and the epic conflicts of World Wars I and II - through the lens of this amazing capital.

What makes the course unique is that it takes you deep into the streets of London during formative periods in its history. Professor Bucholz continuously emphasizes the importance of understanding and experiencing the sights and sounds of London as it was lived by its residents. You'll come to know what daily life was like in historical London, learning the secret histories behind places such as Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, and London Bridge.

This unforgettable look at an unforgettable city will undoubtedly delight and surprise you. By the final lecture, you'll come to realize just what Samuel Johnson meant when he famously declared, "there is in London, all that life can afford."

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.

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Amy 08-05-14
    Amy 08-05-14 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Starting Place or Refresher"

    I went to these lectures in order to brush up on my knowledge of London's history (which varies depending on the era from "rather expert" to "rather sketchy") and gain new perspectives on the "Cool Britannia" phenomenon today, and this fit the bill. Robert Bucholz offers an interdisciplinary and broad history of the city drawing from court history, literature, sociology, urban planning, economics, and other approaches. He manages to cover a great deal in a short time, complete with entertaining asides and corny humor. I especially appreciated his guided tours of the city during different stages of its life (Chaucer's time, Shakespeare's time, Samuel Pepys's time, Dickens's time, and "Millennial London"), which provided very useful comparisons and contrasts. A work this brief covering such a time span cannot be all things to all people, but for someone already familiar with the history and wanting a refresher, or someone wholly new to the history and seeking an introduction, this is an ideal resource.

    The individual lectures are as follows:

    1. There's No Place like London
    2. The Rise and Fall of Roman Londinium
    3. Medieval London's Thousand-Year Climb
    4. Economic Life in Chaucer's London
    5. Politics and Religion in Chaucer's London
    6. London Embraces the Early Tudors
    7. Elizabeth I and London as a Stage
    8. Life in Shakespeare's London—East
    9. Life in Shakespeare's London—West
    10. London Rejects the Early Stuarts
    11. Life in Samuel Pepys's 17th-Century London
    12. Plague and Fire
    13. London Rises Again—As an Imperial Capital
    14. Johnson's London—All That Life Can Afford
    15. The Underside of 18th-Century London
    16. London Confronts Its Problems
    17. Life in Dickens's London
    18. Two Windows into Victorian London
    19. Questions Postponed and the Great War
    20. London's Interwar Expansion and Diversions
    21. The Blitz—The Greatest Target in the World
    22. Postwar London Returns to Life
    23. The Varied Winds of Change
    24. Millennial London—How Do You Like It?

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel 04-28-15
    Joel 04-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Well Done"

    Enjoyed it a lot but missed the maps etc that are not included with Audable download. Fortunately with a little digging you can find it on the Internet.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 11-23-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 11-23-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Walking through London/Two Millennia"

    I have a new Audible routine: every weekday morning before I leave the house, I download the New York Times. If traffic is good, I get there right as the narrators finishing the last section, Opinions. At the end of the day, and now that Great Courses are available, I listen to a 20 to 30 minute lecture; and then I return to whatever book I'm listening to. Well, unless I'm really engaged in the book - I'll put the Great Course lecture aside until I'm done.

    I chose Robert Bucholz' "London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the World" (2009) for my first Great Course. I haven't been to London, but I plan to go soon - and I'd like to know what I will see. I feel like I will.

    If this were a regular college class, it would be Level 100 - Freshman. Each lecture covers at least 30 years, so it's hard for Bucholz to go into any great detail. The Audible version doesn't come with course materials, which was fine with me - I sure wasn't going to look at them while I was driving. I do wish it had two items, though: maps of London during the eras Bucholz discussed, and a timeline.

    I enjoyed learning about London, especially from someone who loves it so dearly. Bucholz describes London as though you are there, which was fun to imagine - well, not that The Great Fire and The Blitz were a good time.

    I liked the way the course was parsed into very manageable segments - I never had to stop listening mid-lecture.

    Worth the credit, and I hope I get as much out of other Great Courses.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    56 of 67 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJFLA 11-02-13
    CJFLA 11-02-13
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    "Good, not great."
    Where does London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Trying to condense the whole history of a nation in 24 half hour sessions is quite the challenge. Realistically, spending more time on a lesser number of years (say a couple of centuries or so!) would have been better. Essentially, everything is glossed over because of time constraints and you don't take away as much as you could. That said, the presentation is quite good and narrator/professor delivering the lectures does a very good job. While I found this audiobook interesting, I really wouldn't overly recommend it to anyone.


    What about Professor Robert Bucholz’s performance did you like?

    Very, very good.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 07-08-15
    David 07-08-15 Member Since 2012

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "London is a little England"

    It's hard to tell the history of London and not make it basically the history of England, but while most of the events narrated, from its early founding as a Roman outpost to its modern status as a global financial center, are basically echoes of British history, Professor Bucholz keeps the focus on the city, including periodic "walkabouts" through the ever-changing terrain of London, from Chaucer's time to Churchill's.

    There will be many kings and queens and wars described, as all of them obviously left a mark on London, and of course there is the Black Death, the Great Fire, Cromwell and Shakespeare, Dickens and Jack the Ripper, the Blitz, the IRA bombings, the London tube bombings, and all those other great events we associate with London. But Bucholz treats London itself, or rather its people, like a character in a long historical epic.

    There are several points he emphasizes throughout London's history.

    London has always been somewhat independent of the rest of England. London has historically had its own privileges and prerogatives. It has acted as kingmaker and kingbreaker. Its people have rioted frequently, and London authorities have even recognized "legitimate" riots as the ancient right of its people to express their grievances.

    London's economy has also often acted independently of the rest of the country. When England is doing poorly, London has often prospered.

    As in all great cities, London's residents have always been convinced that London is a dangerous city full of violent criminals, going back to at least Chaucer's day, even when the evidence shows that the crime rate was falling, or was no worse in London than anywhere else.

    As ancient as London is, it seems that very little of its most ancient parts are still intact. Developers right up to the modern day have had few scruples about replacing centuries-old dwellings and edifices with modern buildings. Not many Victorian mansions are still around, let alone streets or buildings going back to medieval times... though you can still find parts of the wall that was once built around the city!

    This is a lively lecture told with a lot of humor by someone who's clearly a fan of the city. You can listen to this course as a proxy for a brief history of England, but just remember the focus is on the city of London and its occupants.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Byrne 04-09-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great preparation for a trip to London"
    What made the experience of listening to London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World the most enjoyable?

    I listened to this course as part of my prep for a vacation to London. It was fantastic. As I walked the streets, visited the sights and sat in the pubs I felt I had a sense of the history and resilience of the place and enjoyed my trip all the more.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The personal viewpoints in particular the section on Dr. Johnson. I found myself standing outside his house and then sitting in the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese pub with a appreciation of the man and his times that made the experience memorable.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this course and also reading the extraordinary work, "London: A Biography" by Peter Ackroyd. London came alive to me because of the great work of these two scholars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Pa, USa 07-22-13
    Amazon Customer Pa, USa 07-22-13 Member Since 2007
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    "The Visit"
    What did you love best about London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World?

    If you are planning to visit London, this lecture plus a good guide book will give overview of the city and how it got to the place it is today.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    funnyguy2k 07-31-15
    funnyguy2k 07-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "London"

    Pretty comprehensive. Good insight into the personality of the city and its citizens. Good job on illustrating the development of Lonfon

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Timothy C. Roach Barbados 07-30-15
    Dr. Timothy C. Roach Barbados 07-30-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Great style for a fascinating subject."

    Excellent story, interest and narration. The presentation was balanced and there was significant human interest to capture your attention at all times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ark1836 07-27-15
    Ark1836 07-27-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The History of a Nation Encapsulated in the Histor"

    I started this course expecting a history of the City of London with a very narrow focus. I was happily surprised by the overall breadth of this course, which managed to summarize much of English national history through the prism of London. The class gave both political and cultural history from the perspective of commoners and lords alike. It has been many years since I had English history in college, so this was a great refresher. That being said, I wish I had taken the Great Courses classes on the broader scope of English history before taking this class. I plan to take those courses soon, but I fear that I went in the wrong order to maximize my understanding.

    As with nearly all Great Courses that I have taken, the professor was enthusiastic, informed and engaging. The material presented covered the earliest settlement of London through the end of the first decade of the 2000s. I personally wish the professor had spent more time on Roman London because I find that era particularly fascinating, but I really cannot complain about the depth or the breadth of any of the topics he selected. The professor gave many interesting anecdotes, such as his description of how royal security was so lax for many generations that any well-dressed person could stroll into the palace grounds and have a good chance of seeing the king. I feel both entertained and better informed from this course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Louise Armitage
    London
    9/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful overview of historical London"

    I enjoy listening to The Great Courses series and was drawn to this one as being a native Londoner, I enjoy learning more about this wonderful city. This gave a very concise and detailed history of London, and included interesting little nuggets of information about certain monuments, buildings and details about the human side of history too. Professor Bucholz presents this course in a very engaging way, although his accent did start to niggle at me after a while. Overall though a very good listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Brendon
    LEATHERHEAD, United Kingdom
    1/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating & Eductional"
    What did you like most about London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World?

    This book cover a vast period in London's history, yet still manages to go into great detail. A fascinating and educational read / listen if you like history. I will definitely be listening to a lot more in this series.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eduardo
    7/20/15
    Overall
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    "improving my English skills..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World to be better than the print version?

    Because I don't live in the UK and it's more complicated to me to buy books. At the same time, English is not my first language. In fact, my English is not so good. So with an audiobook I can improve my English skills at the same time I learn about the London history.


    What other book might you compare London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World to, and why?

    Perhaps the Diary of Samuel Pepys. Anyway, it's the first book I read about the English History. But I intend to read the Samuel Pepys diary in the future.


    What does Professor Robert Bucholz bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Perhaps the Diary of Samuel Pepys. But this book (about London) was the first book that I read about the English History. Anyway I intend to read the Samuel Pepys diary in the future.


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

    The History of London is a constant report about reinvention and rebuilding of a city by its population.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't have any additional comments except my apologies for my bad English and my testimony about the quality and the persistence of the extraordinary English radio tradition.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    2/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bit thin on content, but some interesting gems"

    This course covers the entire history of London, right from pre-Roman times up until 2005. The professor speaks well, and has chosen many good themes to cover in this course. However, since this is a history of London, rather than a history of Britain, he leaves many explanations for events to other courses, and just gives a simple overview of how it changed London. This may be forced by the format, but it felt a bit flimsy, like you weren't getting much out of it.

    I enjoyed greatly the several "days in the life" which he walks us through. He takes famous Londoners, e.g. Samuel Pepys, and describes the London of their time, how it looked and sounded and smelt etc. This really is fascinating, and gives many places in London a much more interesting history. Place names and areas of London now hold a lot more historical interest to me, which was what I was hoping in listening to this.

    Overall I would suggest this for people who intend to spend some time in London wandering around doing touristy stuff, but if you want to learn some history, I think you're better off listening to one of the more detailed series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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