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.
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.
©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses
Storytime with Grandpa
I LOVE The Great Courses, but this was the first course I've listened to from the late Rufus Fears, and he is definitely not for everybody.
If you are on the fence, check out The Great Courses podcast in which Professor Fears was recently featured. It will give you a sense of what he's like (of course, you can also just take the plunge and check out the course, because of the Audible/Great Courses terrific satisfaction guarantee).
This was my first course with Rufus Fears. I know a lot of Great Courses fans and most of them LOVE Rufus Fears. Visit The Great Courses Facebook page and the fans there just can't get enough Rufus Fears. Why is this so? As far as I can tell, it's all about style. In the recent podcast I learned that Professor Fears was one of the only Great Courses professors to lecture without scripts or notes. That makes sense, because listening to Rufus Fears is like listening to your grandpa tell stories. He is first and foremost a storyteller.
Don't get me wrong. His courses are fact filled, educational, and definitely entertaining, but the criticisms in some of the other reviews are also accurate. His approach to history is to embellish. For example, he recounts events of 3000 years ago by imagining conversations between the key players of the time. Fun, yes. Illustrative, yes. Accurate historically? Obviously not.
And then there are his opinions. His worldview is distinctly Christian and distinctly American (and a flag waving American at that). So it should be no surprise that Fears' list of events that changed history is heavily weighted towards western civilization, and particularly towards 20th century America. If that sort of thing bothers you, you will be bothered.
I recommend checking out one of his courses, because if you like Fears, the good news is that he has a large library of interesting courses that will keep your Wish List busy for months. But if all this makes you pause, then I recommend starting with a different one of The Great Courses. If you like history, there are many great ones. The two they have on Foundations of Western Civilization are outstanding.
P.S. - He is a slow speaker. I recommend using the speed controls on the app to go faster.
This is the second of the Great Courses I have read which is done by Professor Fears, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. He has a very lively and at times humorous way of telling his stories which is very easy to listen to. Also, he goes into detail enough about background and culture so that we can really understand why these stories matter to us today.
He covers a really large variety of topics, too. There are political events like Caesar crossing the Rubicon or the Athenians driving off the Persians or the ascension to power of Adolf Hitler. There are religious events like the life of Buddha or Jesus. There are scientific or medical events like the lives of Hippocrates, Pasteur or Darwin. There were a few events I had never heard of, but there were many more events I had heard of but didn't know much about. He brought these events into sharp focus and helped me understand that my life today would be very different than what it is if this or that event had not taken place.
Many of the events in the early part of the course were religious in nature--because, I suppose, religion was such an integral part of the lives of ancient peoples. I am not a believer in any religion, but I can see that these events were still very important in shaping our world into what it is today, so they needed to be included in this course.
Bottom line: I really enjoyed this, and I recommend it to you.
This would not be a bad series for a person who thinks they might like history and the subject of events that changed history, but if you are a fairly well-read history buff, you will already know most of the events and details provided.
Perhaps found less known events that made a difference or else, provided unknown details or connections in the ones provided.
About average for a lecturer. I don't expect class lecturers to be greatly dynamic. It is nice if they are, but as long as I can understand them and they provide good information, I don't care.
If it the author took a neutral stance on Christianity and the Bible.
Focus just on history, and cut out Christian dogma.
Cut out the Christian dogma (see chapter 2, for example). The author loses credibility in chapter 2 and his enthusiasm is misplaced.
Chapter 1 was quite promising.
This book should come with a disclaimer and perhaps not be labelled as a history book.
This is an entertaining but flawed series of lectures. They are marred by an indiscriminate blending of fact, myth, and speculation with no clear distinctions being made among them. Prof. Fears's treatment of religious history is distorted by an obvious conservative Protestant Christian bias. I prefer my history to be factual and presented in an evenhanded manner. I see that Prof. Fears has other lectures in the Great Courses series. I do not plan to get any of them.
I recognize the challenging scope of the project, but felt the final product did not measure up to my expectations. I was unimpressed by the amount of speculation and opinion presented as facts.
No, but I will more carefully screen the reader comments prior to listening.
Disappointment. Though he was enthusiastic, I found Professor Fear to be more of a storyteller than a historian.
I had listened to one other book from The Great Courses: "World War II: A Military and Social History." In comparison to Professor Childers, I found Professor Fears sadly lacking. Frankly, I expected better from The Great Courses.
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.
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.
Loved the topic, but I'll listen to anything J. Rufus Fears teachers.
Best story teller I've ever listened to. I love his approach to history and his ability to make history feel timely.
This course had a great start, he covered a wide range of topics and covered a wide range of countries. The only problem I found with this lecturer was when he started talking about the U.S. He is very patriotic and this comes across clearly in his lectures, particularly when he started talking about events that mainly just affected America whilst claiming it changed the entire world, as in his words "the U.S.A. is the defender of all that is good in the world".
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