History is made and defined by landmark events - moments that irrevocably changed the course of human civilization. They have given us
Now a series of 36 captivating lectures explores some of the most important and definitive events in the history of the world - events after which our world would never be the same.
Taught by a remarkably gifted teacher with more than 25 teaching awards to his credit, these lectures form an intriguing and engaging tour of thousands of years of human history, from the creation of the Code of Hammurabi to the Battle of Lexington to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and beyond. It's a chance for you to gain new insights about world history from a truly riveting historian.
Using his expert knowledge and impressive ability to draw out invaluable lessons from the past, Professor Fears has chosen the events he discusses based on three criteria: how the event in itself fundamentally changed history, how the aftermath of the event changed history, and how the event and its impact still resonate with us today.
The result is a comprehensive and authoritative selection of subjects, each of which played a crucial role in transforming human civilization. Whether the event is an obvious or not-so-obvious choice, Professor Fears takes great care to tie each to the 21st century, pointing out just how influential these and other moments were in shaping who we are and how we live.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses
I would have loved to have a professor like Professor Fears when I was in college. If I had, I might have decided to change my major to history. He brings to life with great reality, color, and sometimes humor, 36 events and people who impacted world history forever. I have listened with enjoyment and new insight to his lectures several times, and they will be a permanent audible on my iPod.
Robert E. Lee did own slaves and property in Virginia. Arlington plantation, in fact. Christopher Columbus did not discover a new world. There were people here before him, including some Europeans. Also, if I choose a history title, I do not want to be preached to about any religion. Not recommended.
As a cheerleader for the Great Courses, it pains me to say: Stay Away!
Announcing that there is nothing implausible about the stories of Abraham and Joseph, and a pointed refusal to question even the literal parting of the Red Sea, should be a huge red flag. Professor Fears goes on to tell us that Sparta was a democracy, that Caessar didn't want power for ambition's sake but only to serve Rome better, and that Robert E. Lee owned no slaves. Neglecting to add that this last is true only by the hairsplitting legality of the slaves belonging to Mary Custis amounts to deliberate deception.
Alongside such whoppers, Fears offers a lot of half-truth, mixing imaginary scenario with fact or conspicuously ignoring pivotal elements. One typical example: in seeking causes for the Wall Street crashes of 1929 and 2008, he delivers a lengthy and fictive tale of a consumer buying irresponsibly on credit. Banking deregulation gets mentioned only once, in passing, without elaboration. Monetary policy, regulatory capture, and corporate malfeasance aren't even mentioned, much less fairly examined. Nope, the market collapse was caused by small consumers buying too much, end of story.
Sermonizing asides push a mix of American exceptionalism, biblical literalism, and Horatio Alger bromides. This is not history; it is ideology culling history (and historical myth, when necessary) for validation.
People comfortable with taking the Bible at face-value.
I love The Great Courses, but this one was a disappointment.
A little less theatrical gravitas wouldn't have hurt.
Prof. Fears takes the census at the time of Jesus's birth for granted, without even mentioning that many other historians find it highly problematic or impossible. If he's not addressing historical controversies in his lectures, then it makes me question his biases and the validity of his other narratives.
This course is not a write-off, but I find it hard to recommend to anyone. My instinct is to say if you are looking for a decent primer on major historical events, with an eye towards delving more deeply into the topics that interest you afterwards, you should pick this up. However, I can't bring myself to doing that.
For my liking, the courses are much too heavily influenced by the lecturer's Christianity and, to a lesser extent, his American patriotism.
Another issue for me was that I simply disagreed with much of what he had to say about certain topics. When covering areas where I am fairly well versed, such as ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, I did not agree with his interpretation or presentation of the facts.
This is not to say that he is completely wrong. He obviously knows his stuff and is never flat-out wrong about the facts, but I just didn't care for his approach all that much. I'd recommend listening to the lectures on Jesus and Constantine, which are some of the most arguably controversial. If his treatment of those topics don't bother you, you might enjoy the whole course.
Indy Tar Heel
The professor was engaging, dynamic and made interesting points. He described the downline implications well and plausibly as well as situating the occurrences among the contemporary history.
What if? just because it describes pivotal moments in history that had far reaching impact.
No, but I would listen to him in a heartbeat.
Haven't seem the print version.
The speaker was very knowledgeable. Did not get stuck on any one era, except too much emphasis on modern America. Disagree with some of his choices, Michelangelo can not have the same impact on history that the invention of: railroads, steam engines, corporations, radio, television, or the internet.
The bible stories
I was pretty disappointed to hear Prof. Fears telling the story of the Jews in Egypt and the first Passover as if these were historical events; they're not. I thought I was getting a serious history course, not a sermon or a course on myth and legend. If you're looking for a serious course presented with academic rigor, this isn't it. I'd like to get my credit back, honestly.
This was certainly an entertaining listen, but it had less of a scholarly approach than I have come to expect from this series. The lectures focus on events that have impacted American/Western civilization, with a couple of religious exceptions. To be fair, the lecturer states his bias up front, but I still found the lectures to lack nuance.
Overall, these lectures take a narrative approach to explaining history, so they are entertaining, but not as educational as other courses on this topic.
I found this book very disappointing. There was little history, and that was well salted by myths, fables, and speculation presented as fact. Large sections of the first three hours were simply credulous readings out of the bible, or Torah, recounted as if they were uncontested histories. If I had known this was a "history of the world as told by important events in religious books" I would never have purchased it. First great course I have not finished. I honestly wanted my money back.
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