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
I have listened to around 10 courses from The Great Courses and this is so far the greatest. It is a fascinating and harrowing journey though time. Mr. Garland is a true master at story telling, at placing the listener in the mind frame of their distant brethren.
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.
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