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
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.
Listening to this course I'd a little like listening to tales from a grandparent. you'd be foolish to disregard them all together but equally silly to not follow up in the details for external verification. it felt like a lot of the author's personal bias bleed through in many of the topics and more than once my personal research turned up discrepancies or a less consensus than the narrator implied. It seemed more ad libbed than say a read book might and that might be the problem for me. I was looking for a summary of a number of events and instead I got a man's interpretation of those events. If that's what you are looking for this is a great listen for you. Personally I was disappointed.
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.
First, I came to The Teaching Company after discovering Dr. Fears's course Books That Will Change Your Life. Today, I own every course he's taught. If you are not already a fan or prior student of Dr. Fears you may start with BTWCYL or his Famous Romans and Greeks. Dr. Fears lectures in an engaging storytelling style. He follows the model of Plutarch's great lives as he shares biographies and anecdotes. Listeners will easily retain the complicated information the professor shares because of his genius for storytelling.
In this course of 36 lectures, begins in the ancient world and covers the beginnings of law, government & God in the East and West. Dr. Fears builds up to a finale of present day challenges and he leaves us, as always, with a grand and optimistic vision for the future. Throughout the lectures, one gains greater historical knowledge and the capacity to see history in context. Over time, listeners will learn to apply historical knowledge to the present day.
I love everything about Dr. Fears and regret that he died before I had an opportunity to meet and thank him. His lectures not only awakened a love of history but it gave me the desire to be a better person.
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.
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 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".
This is the only book in this series that has disappointed. While the identified events are mostly interesting he (author and narrator) disappears into being an apologist for American exceptionalism. It was so bad it made me turn it off and I will be deleting the book from my library and hopefully getting a substitute from Audible. If a member of the Tea Party buy it otherwise give it a complete miss.
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