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
The occasional etymologies, the connection to daily life of peoples long gone and how their lives impact us, learning historic cultures as if they were new
From the Dark Sky of Natural History Comes a Bright Spark
Want to listen to it again, and again.
It may be a matter of mismatched expectations and presentation, but this course ranks near the of the 60+ Great Courses I have purchased over the years. Much of the material is presented in the 2nd person, which I understand is for effect, but it didn't work at all for me. Professor Garland frequently tells "us" how we feel about the things that have happened to us, often using a mixture of sentimentality and deadpan sarcasm that I found confusing and distracting. Frequently these quips attempted to be critical of bias, but often fell flat and seemed to further illuminate the inherent bias in the course. Furthermore, he doesn't miss an opportunity to interject first-person stories about his own experiences and feelings, which could be awkward and were largely or completely irrelevant.
But if I had to pick a single criticism, it would be that so much of the material is unsubstantiated during the presentation. Even if it is based on historical fact, I found myself constantly questioning whether the author might have simply invented a narrative to bridge gaps in the archeological record. Some of the "substantiated" references are to myths and legends, but without noting that these stories may well be hyperbole and/or symbolic in nature. On what basis should we interpret them as facts that reflection the nature of daily life? A far better treatment of this sort of source material is found in Professor Kenneth W. Harl's course "The Vikings." That course together with Dorsey Armstrong's "The Medieval World" were much more informative and authoritative for the periods and populations they cover.
So, your mileage may vary, but I found this to be perhaps the least enjoyable set of lectures from the Great Courses in my library. It seemed more like historical fiction than history.
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.
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!
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.
I would listen to a chapter or two in one sitting. You almost want to take a little brain break in between each culture.
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.
Over all a very interesting lecture series. But the lecturer is clearly anti Catholic hierarchy. That is revealed at Lecture 41 approx. 20:40 when he discusses Francis of Assisi. First he states that Francis order was known as Fratichelli. Then is states the Church's rejected the "little brothers" and excommunicated them. WOW. The Church excommunicated St. Francis' order? Well not quite. St. Francis and the Franciscans were never excommunicated and were always embraced by pope and the Church. Some orders that the Italian people designated as Fraticelli were considered heretical by the Church. It's a bit disappointing that type of juxtaposition is used to create a false impression of historical facts.
The lecture's anti-Catholic hierarchy is clear in his discussions of the Churches influence on medieval daily life. I emphasize his disdain is directed at Church hierarchy because he goes out of his way to laud the contributions of monks, priests, nuns and other church people in their aid and comfort of everyday people.
With that caveat, I would recommend this series.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Garland's description of life in a Roman garret was exceptionally vivid. It sounded quite sad and dismal.
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.
"Nearest thing to time travel available"
Superb, loved his Greece and Rome, bought this and couldn't get enough. A natural story teller just brings the lives of ordinary people to life. Just relax and let Professor Robert Garland read the narrative to you. Got to be even better than reading it for yourself.
The leader of the Roman bandits which he did with an east end accent like Fagan from Oliver Twist or an English pirate.
Infant mortality in the ancient and medieval world 25-30%. Starvation of the children left behind after their family were wiped out by the plague and having to beg in the streets. Throwing ones relative onto a passing plague cart from an upstairs window which for a deeply religious people must have been terrible, but they had no choice.
At 53 years of age I want to go to university and study history under Professor Garland. Along with the Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England and the Time Travellers Guide to Tudor England by Ian Mortimer this is a must for those that wish to learn about history from the viewpoint of ordinary people. Works such as these have taken a long time to appear, but now they they have I hope there is more to come.
"Well worth the listening"
It informed about ordinary people through many cultures.
Very well researched and read. Obviously interested in his subject and puts it across in an interesting and accessible way.
"Excellent empathic history"
Excellent narration with extraordinary breadth of research and insight into the other side of historical life across the classical and medieval periods. Wonderful example of empathic social history done with wit, intelligent charm and compassion.
"Brilliant Trip Back In Time"
This was one of the best audiobooks I've purchased. The 48 30-minute lectures give a fascinating glimpse of what life was like for ordinary people in ancient and medieval times. The lectures are informed by a wealth of learning but are never stuffy or dry. On the contrary, they are very well written and are delivered in an excellent speaking voice by Professor Garland who brings the people "on the other side of history" brilliantly to life. Another reviewer has said that they are the nearest we'll get to a a trip by time-machine and that captures the essence of the lectures: as Prof Garland speaks we are back there with those ordinary people, sharing their hopes and fears and marveling how they coped without basic things we take for granted - medicine that is effective, spectacles to correct our vision, and so forth. Highly recommended.
"A great Listen. plenty of it. Slight repetition."
Entertaining and informative. Well presented by the prof. who sounds a bit of a stereotype, but his enthusiasm is evident and his empathy for ancient lives is clear.
"Shame about the narration"
Good content but it was quite spoiled by the author pausing before almost every word.
Fantastic course. The information is invaluable and it is narrated in a very pleasant and easy to understand manner. Outstanding work! I enjoyed every second.
"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.
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