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
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Professor Robert Garland has made a career of piecing together cultural details of ancient civilizations. Garland’s journey back in time is highly speculative. It addresses the lives of losers and the underclass of social groupings and civilizations that have no written records of their thoughts, feelings, or life struggles. Any written record of the early years of human events are revealed as legend, or surmised from preserved remains.
As Winston Churchill said, “History is written by the victors.” Garland acknowledges Churchill’s observation while offering educated guesses about what life was like for the unsung and defeated. He goes back to the beginning of the human race by noting that Homo Sapiens were the only human species to survive in the family of great apes. Though Neanderthals and Denisovans once roamed the earth, the purity of their genetic makeup is overwhelmed by the DNA of North African Homo Sapiens. Though Neanderthals and Denisovans had similar brain sizes, were bipedal, and similar to Homo Sapiens, they disappear as a distinct species of human either through internecine war, or evolutionary selection. Garland suggests it may have been both; i.e. warfare and evolution, with a cognitive growth burst for the singular hominid called Sapiens. No one really knows.
Life in these tumultuous times remains a struggle for survival. Women are still discriminated against; rule is hierarchical, and the gap between rich and poor remains in place. Slavery is somewhat diminished but poverty becomes the new form of citizen enslavement. Agriculture is the main source of wealth but growth of cities like London, Norwich, and York begin the march toward mercantilism, industrialization, and the rise of the middle class.
One concludes from these lectures that “The Other Side of History” is as brutal for a small minority of victors as the general population. The threat of disease and death seem equally prevalent for victors and the poor; however the victors live a life with many more pleasures than the vanquished or poor while they are alive. Perhaps, a minuscule middle class, that is destined to become a dominant population cohort, lives best by neither being a beggar or an aristocratic leader. Garland notes that leaders are many times more likely to die from murder than the general population.
All in all, this was an interesting perspective on history and one we always miss in traditional history lessons. However, Robert Garland's affected tone got to me after a while. I forgot just how pompous professors sound. I also got tired of the worn out Beatle's references and his blatant liberal comparisons to modern society were misguided and unnecessary. For example, when talking about women as having no rights or identity he compares it to colonial America as if that was the last bastion of female inequality. There are plenty of societies with this exact same view of women today and they operate basically the same as they did thousands of years ago.
Another example was talking about infanticide in Spartan and other cultures and talking about it as if it was a bad thing then and as if it's also not in existence today when it was actively promoted in China not that long ago and all Western cultures willing abort children every day. What makes ours "right" and theirs "wrong"? That would have been a more interesting (and accurate) comparison and discussion if he's so intent on making comparisons.
He misses some great opportunities to show that we haven't evolved as much as we think but was too focused on bashing modern Western (particularly American) culture.
The subject matter was very interesting but it suffered in the telling and editorializing.
If you are looking to develop empathy and understanding for how we, the human animal, behave in the current age, look into past civilizations at the common person, rather than at the exalted heroes and villains of millennia past.
This course was truly enlightening, focusing on social norms regarding food, social hierarchy, hygiene, medicine, courtship, and everything in between.
The lecturer is also humorous and relatable. This is an excellent listen if you want a paradigm shift that brings history alive by making Our past more relatable.
It should also be noted that this is from a predominantly Western perspective, and that a similar book could be written through other lenses.
Not from Professor Garland. I have some other TGC audible books to listen to, and I have listened to some others.
I haven't reached the ending. I felt motivated to write this review because of suppositions and inaccuracies I've already heard concerning Egyptian and Greek history. I will continue to listen to the rest of these lectures, but given my knowledge of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English history, I suspect I will detect other inaccuracies and sloppy reporting.
Garland said that only an expert could distinguish between Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptian art. This is incorrect. When I was a student at Wellesley College, I studied Ancient Near Eastern Art with Professor Miranda Marvin. Not only was her delivery better than Professor Garland, but she taught undergraduates how to distinguish between these periods of Egyptian art, in less than one hour-long lecture.
Garland has made too many assumptions concerning life in the ancient world - probably coloured by his modern, personal beliefs. For example, he assumes the life of a wealthy Athenian woman would have been one of little to do. Interested listeners who want to know at least part of the truth should read "Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years," by Professor Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who teaches at Occidental College and who earned her PhD from Yale University.
What a silly question, and based upon the goal of dumbing-down history and inserting modern Western cultural beliefs as implicit commentary.
Audible needs to change the questions it uses as prompts for reviews. These questions might work for the usual fictional drivel bought by the masses, but not for works which attempt to be or are non-fiction.
A must read.
Multiple... Mr Garland does an amazing job of bringing the common man, woman and child of ancient times back to life. Times might have been different, yet people are people, then and now.
I enjoyed his story telling style ... his narration takes away the distance of time and the "us" and "them" mentality.
As a woman, it was difficult to listen to what the women and children of those times endured.
This lecture is in my top 3 , really enjoyable. If you have not yet taken in any of the Great Courses, do it!
As a masters student of late antiquity, i think professor Garland does a good job at trying to illuminate the popular side of history, especially to elicit sympathy in the reader for them. would recommend.
I suppose this would be a good introduction because the material is very basic. I you know much history at all you will be bored and waiting for some nugget that you didn't already know. The narrator slurs his "s" so that you want to get a towel.
didn't get that far--too boring.
It is very long because the author wastes time on material that does not pertain to the subject.
Report Inappropriate Content