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The Wisdom of History Lecture

The Wisdom of History

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Publisher's Summary

Do the lessons passed down to us by history, lessons whose origins may lie hundreds, even thousands of years in the past, still have value for us today? Is Santayana's oft-repeated saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," merely a way to offer lip service to history as a teacher - or can we indeed learn from it? And if we can, what is it that we should be learning?

In this unflinching series of 36 lectures, a world-renowned scholar makes the case that we not only can learn from history, but must.

Drawing on decades of experience as a classical historian, Professor Fears explores history's patterns to conclude that ignoring them - whether by choice or because we've never learned to see them - is to risk becoming their prisoner, repeating the mistakes that have toppled leaders, nations, and empires throughout time.

In this personal reflection on history, Professor Fears has taken on the challenge of extracting the past's lessons in ways that speak to us today, showing us how the experience of ancient empires such as those of Rome and Persia have much to teach us about the risks and responsibilities of being a superpower.

He shows how the study of those who left their impact on an earlier world - Caesar Augustus or Genghis Khan, George Washington or Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi or Josef Stalin - can equip us to make responsible choices as nations, citizens, or individuals in a post-9/11 world where those choices are more crucial than ever.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (107 )
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4.6 (103 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jason 04-13-15
    Jason 04-13-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great performance on the myth of history"

    If history is a lie we choose to believe, than these lectures deliver it in a palatable form. I think of this as a counter balance to Zinn revisionist history. It gives clear, almost simplistic "lessons" we learn from all of history. Dr Fears always gives a performance that, to me, even rivals Dan Carlin.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert A. Sabo 09-20-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Anecdotal over fact"
    What disappointed you about The Wisdom of History?

    After many hours of listening, the author made his way to Abe Lincoln, a subject I know a bit about. In order to tidily fit his narrative of connecting Lincoln's contribution to history as some sort of divinely directed happening, he makes a point that Lincoln died on Good Friday. This detail works great for his "last great hope" tale and messianic purpose of Lincoln - only thing is - it's just not true! Lincoln died the day after Good Friday. As a scholar of history, he surely knows this, and while it may be a small detail, it made me wonder how many other areas of history were scrubbed for nicely fitting anecdotes to work. If I elect to listen to an 18-hour lecture, I want the truth not hyperbole.


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    Not knowing if I was being hoodwinked.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment


    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-22-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Dr. Fears made history and it's relevance come alive for me!!"

    Dr. Fears absolutely renewed my interest in history! An amazing lecture series - I hung on every word - he literally made history come alive for me! I will be listening to every lecture series I can find by him. And I am so happy to now have a keen interest in exploring classical history. I only wish that all Americans would listen to this lecture series as they consider the presidential candidates this election season. There is so much to be learned from history!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cary Concord, CA, United States 03-01-14
    Cary Concord, CA, United States 03-01-14 Listener Since 2005
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    "Very engaging history of the 20th Century"
    If you could sum up The Wisdom of History in three words, what would they be?

    Educational, valuable, enlightening


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wisdom of History?

    I really liked the Character sketches of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The descriptions really helped me understand how the World Wars came about.


    What does Professor J. Rufus Fears bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    This is an audio course.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 04-20-16
    Amazon Customer United States 04-20-16 Member Since 2015
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    7
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    "Best story teller"

    Rest in peace Professor Fears, your classes and lessons are a cherished gift to mankind.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacek Salek NL 02-05-16
    Jacek Salek NL 02-05-16 Member Since 2006
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    "Great cursus!"

    I really enjoyed it and learned a lot! One of the best history cursus's to me!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Santiago 07-25-16
    Santiago 07-25-16
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    "Profoundly biased, half fictional"

    Very strong opinions are presented in the same tone and form as facts, and are confusingly mixed with unconfirmed theories, stories from mythology and folklore, and cuasi-quotes. Good storytelling, horrible teaching.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    abacs 03-21-14
    abacs 03-21-14 Member Since 2013
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    "More like a personal oppinion rather than a scient"
    What disappointed you about The Wisdom of History?

    The total lack of objectivity, or the proof of extraordinary claims. Appealing on fictional writings as historic documents.


    Has The Wisdom of History turned you off from other books in this genre?

    It has greatly shaken my trust in the value of the Great Courses series.


    Have you listened to any of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    It was the first and probably the last.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment of the value of the Great Courses series.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are really contemplating on buying this course, just go to a pub and listen to the rumblings of an old drunk. It may be cheaper and more plausible.

    2 of 11 people found this review helpful

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