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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC
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.
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.
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.
Ninja's of the dessert--3,000 years of the horse archer.
Having heard the history fan-friendly Jack Weatherford, and a previous production from The Great Courses (History's biggest military blunders - and the lessons they teach us), this was a downer. I understand that for a student of history, the specificity of the book is probably bullseye. But there was just too much information for anything to stick, and details mentioned seemingly for no reason.Also, I realize that my primary interest is with the Mongols, and that this book was just a bit too broad for me to enjoy as entertainment.
It surprises me that -aaaaah, a university, -aaaaaah, professor, -aaaah, can receive -aaaah, several teaching awards, -aaaaah, having, -aaaah, an extremely annoying habit, -aaaah, of filling in every sentence, -aaaah, with aaaah.Also, the extremely annoying edits with added words and sentences makes the whole prosody go haywire, and makes it tiresome to listen to. Maybe that's common, I don't know. Nevertheless, it makes it a necessity for me to never again buy a Great Course without previewing it first.
Finally, applauding intro and exit seems artificial.
The story is fascinating, the presentation is pedestrian
As the professor says,'six thousand years of history across six thousand miles', what's not to like?
Focus less on dates and more on the big picture.
I had just come from an incredible history course - 'The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest' by Professor Jennifer Paxton. This suffered by comparison.
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!!!
Yes, because it's a great story, but too much information to process in a single time through.
I liked how it filled in the gaps between the major urban societies that one usually learns about. The scope of the material was enormous and putting it together was an impressive achievement.
The Harlisms. "How do you defeat an army of nomadic horse archers? You get your own army of nomadic horse archers!" Dr. Harl really makes some of the characters and scenes come to life. His description of Attila's invasion of eastern Europe was breathtaking. I added all of Dr. Harl's great courses to my wish list, because I really enjoyed this one and his one on Asia Minor.
Several people complained about the lack of a map. Those people should learn how to use google, because the internet is full of excellent maps.
If they would add the guidebook, which is always available when you buy a course directly from The Great Courses, and often when you buy from Audible
a good story, but you really need to have a good grasp of Chinese history, middle eastern, byzantine, and indian, as well as a good map of Siberia. in an audio book, the locations mentioned are tough to picture unless you really know your geography.
No more history from The Great Courses.
I believe that it is the subject matter that makes this not measure up to the other lectures I have purchased.
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.
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.
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.
"Fills in many gaps of ancient history"
Yes. This fills in so many gaps in the east-west dialogue of history which I have rarely heard about. I found it very important to understand the links between China, the Steppes, the Middle East and the West.
"Fascinating insight into a huge subject"
As with many of the Great Courses this deals with a subject I hadn't realised I was interested in until I saw the title and took the plunge. Professor Harl covers an enormous subject both in temporal and geographical terms and makes it manageable by bringing a human element to the characters involved.
I have seen comments that a map is essential to understanding the subject and it would certainly help but it strikes me that is a limitation of audiobooks in general not specifically this course.
This is one of the best books I have listened to, it is great to listen to
I liked how he kept the chronology of the story, but was able to provide great detail about both the western and eastern steppe
I liked how he could bring the stories to life with small details about the main characters, and it seemed that he was also interested in the story
The book is very long, it would take a day to listen to it, but if I could I would have
I would recommend this as a fascinating listen and a part of history that is often overlooked
Report Inappropriate Content