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The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes | [The Great Courses]

The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes

The word "barbarian" quickly conjures images of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Yet few people realize these men belong to a succession of nomadic warriors who emerged from the Eurasian steppes to conquer civilizations. It's a part of ancient and medieval history that's often overlooked, but for an accurate view of how the world evolved, it's essential. Covering some 6,000 miles and 6,000 years, this eye-opening course illuminates how a series of groups pushed ever westward, coming into contact with the Roman Empire, Han China, and distant cultures from Iraq to India.
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Publisher's Summary

The word "barbarian" quickly conjures images of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Yet few people realize these men belong to a succession of nomadic warriors who emerged from the Eurasian steppes to conquer civilizations. It's a part of ancient and medieval history that's often overlooked, but for an accurate view of how the world evolved, it's essential.

Covering some 6,000 miles and 6,000 years, this eye-opening course illuminates how a series of groups - from the Sacae and Sarmatians to the infamous Huns and Mongols - pushed ever westward, coming into contact with the Roman Empire, Han China, and distant cultures from Iraq to India.

Along the way, you'll learn how these nomads caused a domino effect of displacement and cultural exchange; meet fascinating figures such as Tamerlane, the "Prince of Destruction"; witness struggles to control the legendary Silk Road; trace the spread of Buddhism and Islam, and more.

By looking past the barbarian stereotype, you'll understand who these people were, the significance of their innovations - which include stirrups, saddles, and gunpowder - and the magnitude of their impact. Of course, these warriors did wage campaigns of terror, and you'll hear many accounts of violence as well.

Led by an award-winning professor, these 36 lectures provide new insights on how the world was shaped and introduce you to cultures and empires you've likely never encountered.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (118 )
5 star
 (53)
4 star
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3 star
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4.3 (102 )
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Story
4.0 (102 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Christopher 09-25-14
    Christopher 09-25-14 Member Since 2001
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    "More than You Ever Wanted to Know re Steppe Nomads"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes to be better than the print version?

    This is a fabulous course. The course covers over 3 thousands years of Central Asian and Near Eastern history and is a wonderful introduction to the Empires that have flourished there over this period. You come to appreciate the mounted archer and the savagry of the great warriors of the plains as well as their military sophistication.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The discussion of Ghenghis Kahns, his sons and the history of their empires is fascinating. This is the best structured overview of this topic that I have ever hear (or seen). Really a wonderful course and presentation.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    To say that Professors Harl has an encyclopedic knowledge of Central Asian, Near Eastern and European history is an incredible understatement. You will be constantly dazzled by the facts, figures and analysis that rolls of Professor Harl's tongue seemingly without end.


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

    Ninja's of the dessert--3,000 years of the horse archer.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 02-20-14
    Mike 02-20-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Attila the Hun demands you read this book!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    Are you a lover of history who seeks out those rare books that explain those often mentioned but little known peoples and places of the globe? Have you ever wondered who the Huns, Turks, or Mongols were, where they came from, and why they did what they did? Then this book is definitely for you!

    The excellent lecturer gives a mostly chronological and comprehensive overview of the various peoples or "barbarians" that lived on the eurasian steppes and played a major role in world history. In fact, they play such a large role in world history that I left this read convinced we do a great disservice by not giving them a more prominent role in our textbooks. This book covers a serious blind spot in most of the world's history books.

    He starts from the steppes earliest Indo-European inhabitants and moves through the archaic period with peoples such as the Shueng-Nu, Scythians, and Huns, discusses the medieval period dominated by the Turks, and ends discussing the terrible and glorious legacies of the great Mongol conquests and the subsequent disappearance of the steppe way of life with the advent of the modern age. The series is thorough and detailed and will leave you with few major questions once it has been finished.

    Perhaps the most enlightening part for me was how the lecturer explained so clearly the geography and dynamics of the eurasian steppes. The unique environmental factors of the world of the steppes did just as much to shape their history, and that of the world's, as did the amazing lives of those who lived there. This feature alone makes this a worthwhile listen.

    I cannot recommend this series highly enough to fellow history addicts or those who are just curious. You will not be disappointed. It was definitely one of my best reads this year. Enjoy!!!

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lajean Keller California 09-22-14
    Lajean Keller California 09-22-14 Member Since 2007

    LaJean

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "ZERO STARS - Could You Spare a Gal a Map"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Kenneth W. Harl?

    No more history from The Great Courses.


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

    I believe that it is the subject matter that makes this not measure up to the other lectures I have purchased.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The different dynasty genealogies get a bit confusing, and did not add to an actualized retention or learning of the subject matter. The lecture was obviously prepared to be seen and not simply heard. Also, instead of telling me that certain terms 'keep a students attention,' just keep my attention. I know he had a lot of material to cover, but his two day lecture on the silk road could have been clearer on its role in facilitating these different groups' rise to power. Professor Kenneth W. Hart may be an excellent teacher, but in the audio only version, he did not pull it off.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes?

    It is not the lectures that needs editing, but a PDF needs to be included. And not that piece of junk they put out for purchases from their site. First, there is no PDF 'booklet' with this purchase from Audible. However, a friend of mine got me a copy of the PDF. It was horrible. The included maps in the publication were at such low resolution that the place names on the maps could not be read. What makes it so difficult is that the lecturer constantly refers to places in ancient terms, and rarely makes reference to their modern names.

    The Great Courses NEEDS to, at the very least, include maps with these offerings at Audible to accompany these history courses. An abridged version of the PDF would have been more appropriate. Something that had maps, and a listing of key players with dates.

    This should have been planned out with the professor at production time. A transcript of the lectures along with a sprinkling of pictures was poor planning on the creation team's part.

    Each type of delivery of these lectures (audio vs. video) required different types of material to be created for the audio version to be a true learning experience.The Great Courses produce a video version of these lectures, and to simply extract the audio from the lecture has produced an unacceptable product. No wonder it is on sale at 75% off at their site.


    Any additional comments?

    I filled my wish list with many of these titles, and will be removing all titles dealing with history. This was a waste of time and a credit.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron 02-22-14
    Aaron 02-22-14
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    "Needs to include the guidebook"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Kenneth W. Harl?

    Without the guidebook, this lecture series is not a complete, coherent learning experience. Skip it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Without the guidebook, this lecture series is not a complete, coherent learning experience. Skip it.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Without the guidebook, this lecture series is not a complete, coherent learning experience. Skip it.


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

    Without the guidebook, this lecture series is not a complete, coherent learning experience. Skip it.


    Any additional comments?

    Without the guidebook, this lecture series is not a complete, coherent learning experience. Skip it.

    9 of 43 people found this review helpful
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