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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World | [The Great Courses, Robert Garland]

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

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.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Paul Ramos 01-14-15
    Paul Ramos 01-14-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Walking in their sandals."

    Excellent course that's takes you through the scope of human history in the sandals of the common folk. Very entertaining and enlightening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc 01-09-15
    Marc 01-09-15
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    "Great content, diction hard to follow"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    This tour-de-force overview over several hundreds of years of popular views on human history is, content-wise, well selected, easy to follow and gives a great first introduction into what historians believe to be next-to-true about "people like you and me living throughout the times".


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    Since the course only gives a broad overview, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of details are left out, variances in people's life and believes are ignored (and have to be).
    Mr. Garland says his area of expertise isn't the "middle ages" (roughly about 1000 years of enormous changes to the way people lived), on the other hand reliable knowledge about people before that time is very limited, no matter how convinced Mr. Garland may seem to know.
    So the lectures have to be taken with several spoons of salt.

    What bothered me the most was the - sorry for the word - arrogance of a "modern Christian guy" seriously JUDGING the way other people, especially in times long gone, believed or saw the world. Passages like "there couldn't be a more absurd way of believe system" (this aren't his exact words, it is just what I FELT he was saying) about a multi-god-believe-system are absurd themselves, since the very concept of "any god" isn't exactly science. But it isn't just the believe-systems, but also the "state of mind" people were in. The constant comparisons between ancient ways of thinking and modern "we know what is right" attitude made the course hard to follow at times.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Mr. Garland ... separates ... every ......word ......from ......... the ......... next ...(you get the picture, don't you?)
    His intonation stays very alike throughout a lecture. It sounds as if he is more or less reading from a script and, although he sounds excited about what he is saying, the CONSTANT excitement along with the ... separation ... of ... words ... without ... any ... professional ... dramaturgy ... would make me fall asleep if I listened to Mr. Garland in a life lecture at university.

    I converted parts of the audio book to mp3 and used an audio editing software to narrow down the gaps (without speeding up the actual spoken words), which allowed me to follow the content a lot better.Mr. Garlands narration is, unfortunately, a typical "university professor style":
    He knows a lot, he loves his topics, he WANTS to take people part in this and the energy he puts into his efforts to drag students along is overpowering him.Yet: He DOES love his topic and he DOES have a lot to offer. I am very interested in reading his books now and I'd love to chat with him :-)

    My original verdict was "1.5 stars on performance". That would have been unfair, there are, by far, worse narrators present on Audible. Mr. Garland is easy to understand, he does not derail from the topic, he gives a lot of good examples and tries to match limited time to an enormous amount of content.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    On the negative side my most intense reaction was that the constant "judging" of non-Christian believe-systems along with a very, VERY limited distance to the "modern western" religions shocked me*.
    The lack of pointing out a lot of POSITIVE social achievements (that the Christian churches have destroyed by force), especially along the lines of equal rights for men and women, but also regarding the understanding of what a slave is, was sad, it's not as if human society only has improved over the last 2000 years.

    On the positive side Mr. Garland tried hard to make "every day life" as understandable to a modern "next door guy or girl" as possible without getting into too much detail. You do not need ANY knowledge of history to understand what he is talking about (this may be part of my issue here).

    It is the broad picture, the parallels throughout thousands and thousands of years of human history that gives the listener a glimpse of what "history" is about.

    * As an example: Mr. Garland puts Aristoteles, Platon and Sokrates in the same sack, although those three present such fundamental changes in the "image of what a human being is" (including slaves and women). One could easily say that, the closer we get to "modern times", the "worse" (in modern understanding) it got, while nowadays "ethic and moral" are mainly based on the later philosophers (Aristotels in particular), it's exactly those later theories that are racist, sexist and ignorant. But, pointing this out would have contradicted the (unmentioned) theory of the course that "things constantly got BETTER throughout the times" ...


    Any additional comments?

    Did Mr. Garland succeed in making me understand how "the people on the other side of history" thought, lived and changed (meaning those of whom the history books do not tell you)?
    No.
    This course covers too large a time span to really make me UNDERSTAND what a Roman Citizen "ticks" like or what a peasant in 1300 in North-England really believes in.
    Mr. Garland takes it as granted that "there is but ONE GOD" and that believing the Christian way is the "natural order of things". NO, he is not teaching religion here, don't get me wrong! He just assumes that his listeners "know their god".

    Many - seemingly strange - ways of living in the past are very closely related to the respective religion and/or philosophy. Mr. Garland concentrates on describing official practices (such as sacrifices), but did not succeed in making me understand how people could believe one way or another and let this (religious) believe actually govern their whole lives. I _do_ have some grasp of that topic from other courses (real life) and some decades of personal studies, but I still find it very hard to really comprehend.

    To be fair, I can only repeat: It is the span of time this course covers (topic-wise) and the strong simplification owed to that fact that leaves me unsatisfied. 48 lectures seem like a lot, but to really understand the life of someone you just need more than 15-30 minutes of arbitrary examples from every day life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ghost of Hayek Seattle, Washington USA 01-05-15
    Ghost of Hayek Seattle, Washington USA 01-05-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A remarkable entry from The Great Courses"

    reviewing from phone, so keeping it brief.

    filled with memorable vignettes, uplifting references, sad and brutal accounts of the lives of those not considered great.

    Felt this was much an educational performance and story as a series of lectures.

    Garland has a passion for the subject, a pleasant voice and adds heart and sincerity to the lectures.

    A great deal of this material was familiar to me but certainly not all, and I relished the chance to hear not only a skillful presentation but some thematic development which you may not get from reading a hundred disparate sources.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle 12-17-14
    Michelle 12-17-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting and informative!"
    Would you listen to The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World again? Why?

    This was a great listen. I loved hearing about how daily life was for various groups of people throughout history. I always had an interesting fact to share with my fellow teachers in the mornings after my commute/Audible time!


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

    He added little jokes throughout the book that cracked me up. High five-ing Cro Magnons may not sound funny to you now, but after Professor Garland tells you about a suspense filled spear hunt for a giant mastodon/mammoth and then ends that hunt with a high-five, trust me.. you'll giggle.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would listen to a chapter or two in one sitting. You almost want to take a little brain break in between each culture.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer IA, USA 12-04-14
    Amazon Customer IA, USA 12-04-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Brought it all together for me!"

    I have a meandering interest in history that rambles from one epoch to another, often so disjointedly that even I forget how I end up in any given title. This course did a wonderful job of drawing many of the threads of history together into a cohesive narrative. The caveat, of course, is the need to keep in mind that the "Ancient World" of the title didn't extend far from the Mediterranean. I found that 'slight' to the rest of the planet somewhat disturbing, but the course did, nevertheless, provide a wonderful overview of the societies it actually acknowledged.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Frog Lady Buffalo, NY USA 09-27-14
    The Frog Lady Buffalo, NY USA 09-27-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Wider than expected view"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    These were well constructed lectures that presented an interesting selection of topics on ancient life, primarily in western Europe. Don't expect to find out anything about life in Central Asia or the Indus Valley or Peru. However, you will get a lot of good information about Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Britain in particular. I have some background in all of these cultures, so I was particularly interested in the lectures on topics that I hadn't read about, such as life for refugees in Greece or life for people with disabilities.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    As mentioned above, the chapters on refugees and life as a disabled person were topics that I'd never encountered before in any of my readings about the ancient world.


    What does Professor Robert Garland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He has a very lively speaking voice, and his occasional personal anecdotes add to the lectures. There are not so many such anecdotes that the content of the talks is diluted, though.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Dr. Garland's description of life in a Roman garret was exceptionally vivid. It sounded quite sad and dismal.


    Any additional comments?

    The overall construction of the lecture series is very well thought-out, including references back from one lecture to previous lectures in which similar topics had been mentioned in different cultures and a summary lecture that skillfully reiterated the major topics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taylor 09-26-14
    Taylor 09-26-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A perspective I've always been interested to hear"
    What made the experience of listening to The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World the most enjoyable?

    How excited Professor Robert Garland was to share all the fascinating information about what it meant to live as an ordinary person in a time when most of what we know has to do with the extraordinary names of history.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That it offered information and perspective into what the style of life throughout the history of humanity would have meant for someone like myself.


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

    His enthusiasm. It's always more interesting to listen to someone who cares about what they're talking about.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Any moment that spoke of the depraved things humans did in a time where there was no condemnation to such acts. There were moments where it was very difficult to hear, for the truth of the words was overwhelming to consider.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 09-16-14
    Ann 09-16-14
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    "Loved it!"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    Even though it is a history lesson, with hints of Social Anthropology, it is great for those of us who are nerds and love this type of book.
    For anyone this makes ancient history more palatable and a great deal more enjoyable.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    N/A


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Egyptian life was very interesting.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Definitely not. This is not that type of book but I certainly wanted to finish the epochs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    frankie cleves, OH, United States 09-10-14
    frankie cleves, OH, United States 09-10-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Good not great."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Garland does a good job in the professed 'otherside' but much comes from well known histories of the well to do. Much of the 'stuff' is anecdotical, a big problem is Garland tends to merge generations. For example he'll mention A and B but A and B did not occur at the same time, but rather a 100 years apart. He does have a hard job of covering a million years in the allotted time.I'm an armature expect in ancient Greeks and Romans. Garland did not add additional information that I did not already know. He actually muddied the water as many events were as I said 100 years apart. Again he deals with social impacts but not a linear history.He missed the Byzantine empire totally. But knowing the Byzantine empire well it was interesting to hear what backwater Brittany was doing. He also missed the Francs in their glory. He was good at adding a discussion of religion.In all, I'd recommend the lecture as a intro to social structure in history, which is his main goal. It ( the lectures) are not to be used as a history lecture in any sense. Worth a listen on a long drive, but finding out how the poor man lived is the same as the poor man lives today is not much fun.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    N/A


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    N/A


    Was The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World worth the listening time?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan3216 United States 09-08-14
    susan3216 United States 09-08-14 Listener Since 2004

    You will find great diversity in my books. I love great story telling whether biography, history or fiction.

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    "Read this book instead!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The man has interesting, wonderful information but he makes listening to this book an arduous task Much as I wanted to I couldn't stand to finish it.


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

    Sorely disappointed


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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