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
This lecture series spans 24 hours of listening time, covering thousands of years of human history and prehistory. Although it is a lecture series, it isn’t at all stuffy or boring. In fact it is an enthralling, gripping and moving story of how our ancestors used to live their daily lives. The author focuses on what he calls the ‘other side’ of history, looking at the way ordinary people, rather than the ruling classes, lived their lives. He paints vivid pictures of the daily challenges facing early humans, Neanderthals, hunter-gatherers, the first farmers, the first citizens of Mesopotamia, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. He then moves to Britain to describe the Roman occupation, and the Anglo-Saxon period, finishing with the Norman invasion and the mediaeval era.
Themes that arise and recur many times across this immense span of history and prehistory include: the prevalence of slavery; the low social status of women and the hazardous nature of childbirth; the ever-present threat of violent death and appalling injury; short life expectancy; the constant discomfort caused by lice, worms, tooth decay, arthritis and gastroenteritis, and the smell of bad breath, body odour and faeces which would have filled the air in most of these societies most of the time. The immense power of religion was another force controlling the lives our ancestors to a depressing extent.
For each period of history the narrator focuses on a few different roles within the society in question. For example, in the Roman period you would learn what it was like to go into battle as a legionary, or to be a criminal facing the hideous ordeal of crucifixion, or an elderly man who can’t afford to retire and must work until he drops, living on the top floor of a rickety high rise Roman apartment block, with no sanitation and the constant risk of being burned alive in a fire.
I was never bored for a moment as the narrator transported me back through history and into the shoes, or sandals, of my ancestors. I wholeheartedly recommend this talking book.
He really brings to life the experiences of the everyday person in history, not just the rich or famous or influential.
I haven't read or listened to anything that compares to this.
He is entertaining, not dull or monotone.
Average Joe Throughout History
Yes, It's a great chronological history and would be great to reference again and again.
I loved that it gives the human aspect of history. It puts a face to history that is not usually done and enable's you to swim through it. You can imagine what it must have really been like to be a housewife in ancient Egypt or a soldier in the roman army.
He didn't do any character voices. He's definitely a professor. His tone is quite matter of fact but not boring. He does interject some humor and make it relatable. I felt like I was in a very relaxed lecture hall.
It's too lengthy and you wouldn't be able to absorb it all in one sitting.
I love that audible is offering these courses. I can't wait to try another one when I am finished with this one.
This book will take you into the lives of common people. Professor Garland is down to earth and well spoken and adds a touch of humor. I loved this. My all time favorite audio book.
Yes....both. And I am so very grateful to live in this era. Our ancestors had it very tough.
You will find many of your own beliefs and customs are rooted a long way back in history. I highly recommend this book even if you are not a history buff.
Among the best. A great combination of story and performance
Well narrated and informative. Where do I go for my course credit?
Very good storyteller. Took a short while getting used to to English accent. I found it very similar to the character of "Ducky" in NCIS. But as I listened his narration and use of humor was first rate. He made it easy to live the story that he was telling.
I found this to be a great listen. Dr. Garland both kept my attention and brought some chuckles from his intelligent brand of humor. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants real insight to history delivered in an interesting manner.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks.
I was so stunned by this course I listened to all of the lectures twice! The course lectures are well researched, enjoyable, and absolutely fascinating. I feel so fortunate to be living in the age of showers, antibiotics, and anesthesia!
The serious student of Western history will probably not learn anything terribly revealing from this course, but it provides an excellent context and perspective on the subject. The focus is on daily life of common people, though it provides an overall survey of life among the wealthy as well, in order to fill out the picture.
The lectures are clearly understandable in terms of the material presented and the performance is magnificent. Professor Garland speaks with real passion and emotion that helps one develop a clear image of the message. Most importantly, Professor Garland's analysis is conducted in the context of the times, rather than the context of some modern ideology.
It was a joy to listen to.
The narrator manages to really bring the life of ancient common people to life. I highly recommend the audio book. It was fascinating from beginning to end.
A fascinating affirmation of familiar life down through the ages.
The breadth of this work is so wide as to make it difficult to pick just one favorite character, but the story of an Egyptian couple going out on the town sticks in my mind.
While I have not listened to other works by Professor Garland, I can say that it is delightful to hear his voice, his presence in the topics he addresses that goes beyond tonal quality, replete with a sense of humor one might imagine he was in a mode of self-entertainment while assembling much of his material.
"So you think you have it rough?!"
A very well done lecture series, with very solid narration. The topic adds quite a bit a color to world history.
"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.
"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.
"Good fun, apart from the preaching"
Hooray! The Great Courses has finally got itself some new music, albeit a piece rather reminiscent of ‘Horizon’ 30 or more years ago. It’s just a shame they’re still using the same laughable clip of canned applause; you’d think the tape would have perished by now.
The other good news is that this book/course is an unlikely idea that actually works. Prof Garland seeks to make an interesting historical account of the past even after stripping out most of the big names and major events. He succeeds because he’s collected enough surviving strands from the lives of long-dead ordinary people to weave a colourful tapestry covering Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome (though not China or India); and England (though not France or Spain). Part of the successful formula is his delivery: he comes across as the perfect old-school academic, bursting with scholarly passion, who doesn’t dumb down his vocabulary for the hard of thinking. Despite an actually quite engaging speech defect, he’s a good story-teller and highly articulate.
Aside from the fact that Prof Garland uses the English-history lectures to suck up to his US audience with cheap shots at English food, weather, customs, insularity, nationalism, etc, I’d only one quibble: he judges the cultures of ancient societies an awful lot by comparing them unfavourably with today’s American values, as though the latter were not every bit as arbitrary and politically expedient (and, to judge by demographic trends, likely to be much less enduring). Whenever he starts ingratiating himself with the liberal left by spouting the sanctimonious quasi-Marxist claptrap that’s peculiar to bourgeois academics, you have to wonder why he’s chosen to emigrate to the West’s most unequal society – unless of course it’s because the pay’s very good. Some ex-pat academics need to take a long, hard look at themselves.
"Accessible, satisfyingly detailed, and fascinating"
The Other Side of History is a delightful idea for a series of lectures. It makes ancient history seems so much more tangible, real, and fascinating. The macro-scale progression of ancient society is woven into the details of how its citizens actually lived their lives in such a coherent and natural way. Professor Garland is consistently entertaining, and his obvious passion for the subject is wonderfully infectious. Highly recommended.
"No prior knowledge needed"
Never did he presume prior knowledge but was not patronising to those who had it, he connected with the audience rather than talking 'at' his listeners.
At 24 hours length that would be difficult, the half hour sections made it easy to listen to and easy to keep on listening.
Robert Garland involves the listener and makes them feel like a time traveller by staging the scene before describing the events. It is difficult not to relate to the topics as they cover daily life of the average citizen in various civilisations, from birth to death and beyond. His style is clear and easily understood with few 'long' words, it presumes no prior knowledge yet at the end of it the listener is left with a remarkable knowledge of the ancient world which can be used as a gateway to more indepth study or as a means to really understand and end enjoy dramas depicting the era covered.
Just get it, delivery great. Story great. I was very excited about listening to this, outstripped my expectations.
"Everyday history in a nutshell"
Really enjoyed this book. Although it is of historic interest it was like listening to mini autobiographies. Feel as if I know much more about ancient history and what life was like. Would have preferred more detail but at least the pace was good. Shame about the narrator - pleasant voice but too often a bit stuttery and robotic. Nontheless I would recommend.
"I've learnt so much"
I've always been interested in the ancient world. I purchased this series of lectures on whim and I am please to say that the good Professor has fondled my mind with his enthusiasm and knowledge. For the first time ever, I have actually listened to the entirety of an audio-book (ADHD?). I will probably listen to whole thing again in a year's time to refresh my memory and I will also be purchasing the other lecture that he has done on the Romans and Greeks.
The period of Egyptian history really fascinated me and got me hooked.
Learning that I am a descendant of the French...
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