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
This was my second listen to a work from the Great Courses, and, while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as King Arthur: History and Legend, it was still a decent listen.
One of my biggest gripes with it, though, was that at times the lectures seemed somewhat broad and unfocused. It sometimes felt like I was getting a macro perspective when I wanted a micro perspective. And yet, it didn't cover the macro perspective enough for me to really understand what was going on politically at the time either. Go figure.
The course also isn't nearly as comprehensive as the title suggests. The course covers heavily Egypt, Greece and Rome. Mesopotamia and Neanderthals are also covered, as are the middle ages. However, it's worth noting that the entire course is very euro-centric. Persia has, like, one lecture. I have no idea what the Slavs and Mongols were doing through all this. Civilizations like Ancient China and the Mayans are not covered. In addition to being very Euro-centric, the course is also specifically Britain-centric, and much of what is covered is done through its effects on that region. For example, the anglo-saxons are brought up when they invade Britain. Some time is spent on there culture and whatnot when they get there, but not much is spent on what those people were doing before Britain. The people of the middle ages are covered, but there is very little told about variations based on region. Perhaps everyday peasant life was just that uniform throughout Europe. I'm honestly unsure.
I also felt that at times I wasn't getting a good grasp of where and when things were happening in relation to each other. This is most prominent towards the end when he covers Britain, since he goes back to cover the Celts, killing the chronology, and then covered many different peoples (anglo-saxons, vikings, normans etc.) in rapid succession. Needless to say, I felt like I missed a bit.
Overall, I liked the coverage of the paleolithic times and Mesopotamia. Egypt was nice to listen to too, but much of it didn't feel very new, being one of the most heavily covered ancient civilizations in school. I think the course started to drift for me around the coverage of Rome. There was simply so much of it and it all felt like Ancient Greece version 2.0.
The narrator was good, in my opinion. However, he has a very prominent lisp. It took me a little bit to get use to it, but once I did I had no other issues with him.
I can't imagine anyone not being enthralled by these lectures. It's a look into our history that is is immeasurably important. To empathize with and understand the daily plight of our ancestors is a truly moving and fascinating travel through time. It puts your own life into perspective.
The scope of the course is focused on western civilization (so in a sense focusing on the "primary side of history" but it's a new look at it and since it's the story most of us know best it is helpful and a great choice. I certainly enjoyed it because it felt it connected more closely to my own lineage. I would however LOVE to see a version of this course focusing on other cultures.
As for content, I as an art historian worried I would know much of this already. I did, but it was still mostly new information.
Truly a great course.
I very much enjoyed this cultural overview rather than an historical one. The overall connectedness of the thread of human life was well done. The touching stories of grief and loss and the wonder of beautiful objects helped me connect with humans from Neolithic to Medeval times. I will look forward to another course by Dr. Garland.
Biographies of famous historical figures, while interesting, are a dime (or Audible credit) a dozen. What I really wanted to learn about were the daily routines and slice-of-life narratives about regular people who inhabited the world during ancient times. That is precisely what this book delivers.
It's honest, raw, humorous, and somehow still sensitive in its delivery. There's a huge scope of material being covered here, and it works with the presentation. Each chapter is a sort of snapshot in time, a day in the life of someone with whom I can identify, because Professor Garland makes each accessible and understandable to the layperson. You don't have to be a student of history, art, or science to find this book interesting and understandable.
I purchased this book as one of two audiobooks to take with me on a trip to Europe. I'm so glad I did! I was able to connect some locations I visited and artifacts in a museum to the faces of individuals conjured in my mind by his vivid descriptions and the humanity he brought to his subjects.
I'm pleased with this purchase and consider it one of my favorite Audible books.
I loved these lectures. I could actually picture being in these ancient cultures and the courses were peppered with enough random facts to keep me interested. I highly recommend this book and narrator, especially to someone new to The Great Courses.
I was so happy with this amazing lecture series. The lecturer is fantastic - obviously very knowledgeable, well spoken, and funny at times. I feel like I've really enriched my understanding of ancient peoples. This is a dense lecture and I think it will be worth a second listen in the future.
I looked forward to drive anywhere just so that I could listen to these lectures. If you love ancient history this is the book for you. If you always wonder how it would be to live in another time, this is for you. I was transported throughout history and loved every second of it!
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