Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.
The past truly comes alive as you take a series of imaginative leaps into the world of history's anonymous citizens, people such as a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx; an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with her husband; a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates; a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion.
Put yourself in the sandals of ordinary people and discover what it was like to be among history's 99%. What did these everyday people do for a living? What was their home like? What did they eat? What did they wear? What did they do to relax? What were their beliefs about marriage? Religion? The afterlife?
This extraordinary journey takes you across space and time in an effort to be another person - someone with whom you might not think you have anything at all in common - and come away with an incredible sense of interconnectedness. You'll see the range of possibilities of what it means to be human, making this a journey very much worth taking.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
A fascinating affirmation of familiar life down through the ages.
The breadth of this work is so wide as to make it difficult to pick just one favorite character, but the story of an Egyptian couple going out on the town sticks in my mind.
While I have not listened to other works by Professor Garland, I can say that it is delightful to hear his voice, his presence in the topics he addresses that goes beyond tonal quality, replete with a sense of humor one might imagine he was in a mode of self-entertainment while assembling much of his material.
"So you think you have it rough?!"
The Villa of the Papyri is nestled on the bluffs of the Pacific Palisades in California. Finished in 1974, it was closed for renovations and reopened in 2010 as "The Getty Villa." J. Paul Getty's Villa - and The Getty Center in West Los Angeles are, as Getty promised, free to all.
Okay, maybe the original Villa dei Papiri was in Herculaneum, which was destroyed in AD 79 - along with Pompeii - when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Pompeii is now temporarily at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, near the LA Coliseum and USC.
I coincidentally finished listening to Dr. Robert S. J. Garland's "The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World" (2010) just before I took out of town family to the Pompeii exhibit. Garland's lectures were so concise and vivid, I recognized every single artifact and I knew what it was used for - and keep in mind, I listened to the Audible version which doesn't come with books. I knew what kind of artisan made something, the training they had, and whether they were a slave, a manumitted slave, or free born. I looked at a restored fresco, and impressed my sister by telling her that the ancient Romans would have changed the painted scene as fashions changed. Trends and fads are as old as Ancient Greece. Just as the 1980's Laura Ashley overstuffed and frilled pastels and floral wallpaper gave way to furniture and frames various hues of the same color, tailored linens, hardwood floors and painted walls 30 years later, the painted harbor scene popular during one emperor's reign gave way to starkly contrasting blocks of color, proving that abstractionism isn't a modern construct. I even knew when I got to the gift shop which replica jewelry belonged with the exhibit, and the social class of the women who would have worn it. It didn't stop me from buying the regionally misplaced and historically non-existent Sphinx earrings just because I liked anyway.
The title of this series of lectures is a misnomer, though. Garland's lectures on Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and to a limited extent Ancient Persia, are worth the price and the listen. However, he's missing entire major ancient civilizations: China's written history is more than 4,000 years old; there's the Mayans, who were a civilization for about 3000 years, until the Spanish arrived, with their viruses, in 900 AD; and many other cultures that flourished and vanished or were absorbed by conquerors. These civilizations had writing, so they were historic, not pre-historic.
If the title had been accurate, I'd give this 4 instead of a 3. It's not higher because some of the lectures are repetitive. I did enjoy Dr. Gardner's voice and his delivery, but I wasn't so excited that I listened to more than one lecture a day.
[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]
Intriguing until you realize how many times the author says some version of, "we don't know of course, but we can speculate that..." We apparently KNOW a lot less about daily life in the ancient world than the title implies. There a whole sections that are pure speculation.
The author speaks in short clauses, not complete sentences, with pauses between the clauses. It's distracting, but passable.
Disappointing for all the speculation. Sure, it's a tough subject but "speculation" isn't the solution.
If the "speculation" were removed and the content was limited to what the author can actually support, this might be condensed to 10 half hour lectures.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
Focussing on Everyman throughout history, Dr. Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, USA, attempts to put you, the listener, in the everyday sandals of different people of the Ancient World. Cladding the listener with the respective identities of a Palaeolithic human (1 lecture), a Mesopotamian (1 lecture), an Egyptian (4 lectures), a Greek (11 lectures), a Roman (11 lectures), the different ancestors of the British (4 lectures) and that of a Medieval person (7 lectures), he confronts you with the lives of ordinary humans. This is probably the reason why the material presented is so interesting.
The comparisons with our own day and age makes it fascinating. Dr. Garland is a tour guide that takes you through the proverbial looking-glass to show you the other side of history. This metaphor he uses in various way throughout the course hence he is able to bind 48 30 minute lectures together in a whole. I admire the way he carefully compiled and structured the course. He kept me with him even though I am not British or American. (I was acutely aware of his Western bias during the course. It is probably also the reason for its popularity.)
Throughout the lectures, Dr. Garland was engaging. I didn’t count any ‘uhm’ or ‘ah.’ The course is highly polished and tremendously informative. So if you are interested in history or just everyday life, recline at this table the cuisine is ready to be enjoyed.
I'm not much interested in who won which wars, or in developments in weaponry and battle tactics, or in ancient politics. This series of lectures delves into what *does* interest me: how everyday people lived their lives, in as much detail as possible, in a generous selection of ancient (western) cultures. Professor Garland's delivery is the icing on the cake. He seems knowledgeable and clearly interested in his subject matter, but lightens his lectures with a gentle and sometimes irreverent (but never disrespectful) twinkle. One credit bought me more than 24 delightful hours of pleasant and informative listening. One of my best purchases from Audible.
This was my first Great Courses book. What a treat to learn so many things that I had no real Idea about. I have bought several courses since then and find that if I speed up the voice to 2 times the normal speed I can digest all kinds of information rather quickly. If I had payed more attention in school, this info would not be so new to me. The narrator was very interesting to listen to and gave a perspective of the common man that I found very enjoyable.
The factual info is interesting and different, with focus on ordinary life in the ancient world rather than the usual interest in great men, battles, etc. (Not that there's anything at all wrong with that.)
Most interesting was, of course, the focus and the details of lives of ordinary people in civilizations distant from us in time. Reinforces how coddled and easy our lives are by comparison, even those of us who consider ourselves "disadvantaged."
First, his moralizing attitudes. Despite occasionally reminding us not to impose our current notions on people who lived in vastly different circumstances, his typically PoMo university-style moralizing about racism, sexism, inequality, etc. really got on my nerves, as well as using these old cultures to occasionally take shots at contemporary politics, etc.. If a 19th century Oxford don has taken a similar attitude out of a Christian context, I am sure the professor would be outraged at his dogmatic arrogance. But his own contemporary religion is just as smug and irritating and condescending. I finally stopped listening after Chapter 22. Really irritating.Second, his speaking style is highly artificial, even for a Brit professor. Very clipped and hyper-articulated. Eventually it distracts from his content.
The time didn't drag, but I didn't learn much new, having read many well-researched books about these eras.
I was expecting richer content, total immersion on other cultures and times, like what's in David Hackett's Albion's Seed. This didn't come close to that.
For a college professor, his delivery was excellent. Could tell he'd rehearsed, researched, and written about the content extensively.
No. This is more for background use by film producers and set and clothing designers.
If I'd paid Colgate's tuition for this course, I would have been shocked. For one thing, I can't imagine how someone could come up with in-depth exam questions from content this light.
The performance ruined this series for me. Slow ... with ... huge ... pauses... between ... words. Even stepping up the playback speed didn't really help. The information was okay, though there were small errors in information (no one carries a hawk on their shoulder, nor were the swords so heavy that they needed two hands) that brought into question the rest of the information.
It was nice to hear about the common folk during the time periods though.
A few cogent moments are drowned in misinterpretations colored by bias. Wit without wisdom highlights the lack of deep understanding.
Every other Great Course has had merit except this. It should be removed from the library.
"More a thorough introduction than anything else"
The course tries to cover a broad time period and I think it's a great introduction for someone who is new to the subject of cultural studies / history etc.. However, for someone who is a slightly familiar with this area the course is not as satisfying. It repeats basic facts from other more interesting and entertaining works. While this might be just a matter of taste or background, some facts need an update reflecting current discoveries - especially the part on prehistory.
What I value most about the course is the humanistic approach of the professor.
This is the first course by R. Garland I have listened to. I would probably listen to some other course by him if the subject was more specifically defined.
Wonderfully informative, easy to listen to.
I'm very glad I chose to listen to this one.
"Like going back in time."
The narrator was great. He was eloquent creating a world that you can really live in.
"Accessible, satisfyingly detailed, and fascinating"
The Other Side of History is a delightful idea for a series of lectures. It makes ancient history seems so much more tangible, real, and fascinating. The macro-scale progression of ancient society is woven into the details of how its citizens actually lived their lives in such a coherent and natural way. Professor Garland is consistently entertaining, and his obvious passion for the subject is wonderfully infectious. Highly recommended.
"No prior knowledge needed"
Never did he presume prior knowledge but was not patronising to those who had it, he connected with the audience rather than talking 'at' his listeners.
At 24 hours length that would be difficult, the half hour sections made it easy to listen to and easy to keep on listening.
Robert Garland involves the listener and makes them feel like a time traveller by staging the scene before describing the events. It is difficult not to relate to the topics as they cover daily life of the average citizen in various civilisations, from birth to death and beyond. His style is clear and easily understood with few 'long' words, it presumes no prior knowledge yet at the end of it the listener is left with a remarkable knowledge of the ancient world which can be used as a gateway to more indepth study or as a means to really understand and end enjoy dramas depicting the era covered.
"Everyday history in a nutshell"
Really enjoyed this book. Although it is of historic interest it was like listening to mini autobiographies. Feel as if I know much more about ancient history and what life was like. Would have preferred more detail but at least the pace was good. Shame about the narrator - pleasant voice but too often a bit stuttery and robotic. Nontheless I would recommend.
"I've learnt so much"
I've always been interested in the ancient world. I purchased this series of lectures on whim and I am please to say that the good Professor has fondled my mind with his enthusiasm and knowledge. For the first time ever, I have actually listened to the entirety of an audio-book (ADHD?). I will probably listen to whole thing again in a year's time to refresh my memory and I will also be purchasing the other lecture that he has done on the Romans and Greeks.
The period of Egyptian history really fascinated me and got me hooked.
Learning that I am a descendant of the French...
Just get it, delivery great. Story great. I was very excited about listening to this, outstripped my expectations.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.