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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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  •  
    frankie cleves, OH, United States 09-10-14
    frankie cleves, OH, United States 09-10-14
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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 Member Since 2014

    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
  •  
    Raymond 08-15-14
    Raymond 08-15-14 Member Since 2014
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    "VERY Witty & Informative!"
    If you could sum up The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

    This book is not a boring recording of a classroom lecture, rather, the author transports your mind into that of a fictional, yet very possible, 'Average Joe', from the past. The experience allows one to compare their daily routine to that of a regular person who just might have lived in one of many past civilizations. Such exciting adventures from ancient mediocrity include doing your laundry, paying your taxes and dining on cabbage. If you think life is hard and want some perspective in which to compare it, then read on! (Females, beware! Your 'Average Jo-Anne' apparently had it a lot worse than the males of old.)


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the individual stories of our ancestors, but even better is the way each of the stories is told. The Professor-Author is a 'witty-Brit chap', and he sounds like the kind of guy I could talk to, non-stop for a couple of years.


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

    Professor Garland brings himself and his witty personality to the book. I enjoy books narrated by professional narrators, however, because the material is based on his own research, I think Professor Garland had a lot more leeway with spontaneous, (or perhaps not spontaneous, but still very funny), humor. This adds a significant and genuine quality that is not often captured in most audiobooks.


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

    Life was not a bowl of cherries for our ancestors!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracy Canada 08-11-14
    Tracy Canada 08-11-14 Member Since 2012

    A long time reader and listener - I just can't get enough of Audible! (Especially mysteries and Buddhist texts and history and ...etc!

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    "Twency-four and a half hours VERY well invested!"

    I enjoyed the narration, and the very well-organized chronological presentation of these lectures. The history recounted focused on major events and as they affected the daily lives of the people, often mainly middle class. It's not about slavery so much, or the downtrodden, but the lives and lifestyles of the average person throughout history.

    Really an excellent listen, and a book I'll go back to listen to again, choosing out my favourite lectures!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JA Austin 07-31-14
    JA Austin 07-31-14 Member Since 2012

    History Buff

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    "Played at 2X speed just to keep awake"

    Now I know there are some gushing reviews here, and that's actually why I gave this audio book a go. As a huge fan of history, particularly Roman, ancient European, and medieval, I really wanted to enjoy prof Garland's course. Maybe that was my problem. I was drawn to this as a narrative driven from the "Other's" perspective rather than that of famous men and the occasional famous woman; a deeper view hopefully from the ordinary people living day to day lives in these cultures. Well I am by no means a history major, but if you have even a rudimentary knowledge of ancient near eastern or western history, you'll be wading chapter after chapter thru Garland's droning, s..l..o..w.. narration, looking for some nuggets you didn't already know. It's really Superficial.
    Couldn't I recommend this instead then to someone new to ancient history? Look I'm sure Prof Garland would be great to hang out with, as he's passionate about his subject matter, especially English History and particularly about Chaucer. But for an honest review of a rather pricey audiobook, I'd have to say that there are numerous free podcasts I've listened to that are more informative, entertaining, and won't make you want to gouge your own eyes out (The Ancient World by Scott C comes to mind for one...).
    This one fell so short for me, that I don't think I'll be listening to any more of these "Great Courses". Seriously, go listen first to some great free podcasts if you're looking for anything like these sweeping "survey" type courses. You have nothing to lose.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bluebells 07-31-14
    Bluebells 07-31-14
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    "You will feel that you are part of it!"

    This was a real discovery! I enjoyed this book from start to end, because the author compares historical situation to today's situation. The author makes situations that occurred thousands of years ago as real as if they were occurring now, because he always explains history as if the listener was part of it.

    The 30 minutes lectures are also well suited to an audio book, because the attention span decreases after 30 minutes. It is therefore good to start a new historical setting every 30 minutes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ChaseNutley26 07-30-14
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    "Nitty Gritty History of the Western World"
    Any additional comments?

    Professor Robert Garland's Other Side of History takes us on a journey through the history of Western Civlization as seen through the eyes of common people. Much of what we read about in history books focuses on kings and politicians, wars and conquests. And while these elements are present in this lecture series, they're put into the context of how they affected ordinary people.

    Make no mistake, this lecture series takes the broad view -- I was anticipating that every lecture would be dedicated to a single person, but Garland jumps around from woman to priest to senator to slave, frequently speaking from a second person viewpoint. The series is very long, however, and covers a lot of ground, enabling us to zoom into the details of the lives of many races and classes of people. Garland takes us from prehistoric times right up through medieval times. A few lectures are devoted to prehistory, a few to Egypt, and there's a smattering of lectures on Mesopotamia and Hellenistic Egypt, among others, but the bulk of lessons revolve around Greece, Rome, and Britain, as these are our chief sources of Western Literature. (I was just a tad disappointed that we never covered Eastern or African History, but that is for another course, I suppose).

    Garland uses this literature, along with archaeological findings, to paint a dizzying array of characters. We learn a little of classical ancient figures like Cleopatra or Chaucer, but mostly we learn about how women, slaves, merchants, elderly, farmers, soldiers and the like lived.

    We learn that maybe the Vikings weren't so bad after all; that Egyptians really liked their cats; that Romans employed an unusual method of oral hygiene; that women are almost universally oppressed until quite recently; and that some slaves had it better than others. Garland takes us into the streets of a violent, stinky, overcrowded metropolis and plants us in the shoes of everyday people, enlightening us as to their worries, hopes, rituals, and religious beliefs.

    All in all, this is a fascinating series and I highly recommend it. I warn that sometimes we're given information that is extrapolated from possibly unreliable sources (for instance, Canterbury Tales plays a large role in Garland's interpretation of medieval times), but since much of what we learn of the past comes from the roughly ten percent of literate (i.e. not ordinary) people, we'll never know for sure what everyday folks really thought. However, most of what he teaches is historical standard, albeit focused on a different side of history than we're used to seeing.

    A note on the performance: Professor Garland's lectures are well done and he's a good public speaker. But be aware that he has a very slight lisp and also that Often times. He. Speaks. In. One word. Sentences. Maybe. It's. For Emphasis. I didn't notice either of these things until well into the series, and they were never severely distracting, but once you notice them they're in your head for good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wiznut 07-30-14
    wiznut 07-30-14 Member Since 2014

    A greater understanding is what I seek. With this I hope to enrich my knowledge of life and my legacy. Why Dad?Well here's a head start son

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Average people and how they shaped history"
    If you could sum up The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

    long enriching listen


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The evaluation of the Egyptian pathos.


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

    It would have taken me much longer to make it threw.


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

    No way. The span of time in each chapter is great. A pause to reflect on them; in hind sight, is suggested.


    Any additional comments?

    I know it would be a separate course all together and to trying to break it down would be an enormous task. However; I would have enjoyed a greater look in to Asian history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-15-14 Member Since 2014

    linbur0100

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    "Extremely difficult to listen to"
    What disappointed you about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    My first Great Courses was wonderful, so I was inadvertently misled into thinking they were all going to be like that (well, obviously it would have to be a topic you have some kind of interest in, but based on how great the first one was, I assumed they would all be up to the same standard.) Unfortunately, that is absolutely not the case here. This gentleman is an awful narrator. The content itself could be presented in a much more interesting way, so the "story" only gets 3 stars. But his reading is atrocious. He first goes so slow you can't stand it, and are tempted to put the speed on double to make him sound like he's talking normally. But then in sporadic starts and jumps, he will speak very quickly, so if you are on double time, those sections are too fast to absorb easily. It is possibly one of the worst history Great Courses, and I absolutely do not recommend it.


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

    NA. This is a history book. There is no "ending" per se


    What didn’t you like about Professor Robert Garland’s performance?

    His reading is atrocious, as I mentioned above.


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

    NA. Again, it's a history book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elise Boynton Beach, FL, United States 06-07-14
    Elise Boynton Beach, FL, United States 06-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Took forever to finish but worth it"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    This is a well presented narrative which was 48 or so chapters so wasn't something you finished in one or ten sessions and I am sure I missed a lot. The very British Professor Garland divided up his lectures into distinct categories and in chronological order (that was amazing) and you felt like you were part of the scenery. You could visualize the hearth, the castles, the burials, the rich, the desperately poor. His lectures carried you through the Middle Ages and that was a surprise.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hard to say who the favorite character was because there were so many. The Author cited Geoffrey Chaucer a lot so his insight on Britain was one of the best listens. Also enjoyed piece about Cicero and his riveting oratory. Pope Leo who organized the first Crusade, Peter the Hermit who got lots to volunteer to go fight, and so many more.


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

    This work is about the lives of ordinary people. Very little about the kings, queens, princes, and rulers. This was not their story. You could visualize yourself in ordinary peoples homes, join them for their ordinary routine of daily living. Somehow, with the lack of pictures, telecommunications, even paper, people survived and Professor Garland made it come to life. His narration was quite good which was a big plus in a book (lecture) this long.


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

    The long story on slavery was a bit difficult to absorb. We know it existed in ancient times but didn't realize the extent it was entrenched in civilized society. This was so well established that no one, not even slaves themselves, could imagine life without servitude. The effect of the Black Death on all of Europe was so tragic. It truly defined the "Dark Ages" and scapegoats and prejudices became more solidified than ever.


    Any additional comments?

    I am proud to get through this and thanks to the Professor for loving history so much. If you like to learn the history of those you don't hear about in text books, get these lectures.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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