How is it possible for the disciplines of cosmology, geology, anthropology, biology, and history to fit together? These 48 lectures answer that question by weaving a single story from accounts of the past developed by a variety of scholarly disciplines. The result is a story stretching from the origins of the universe to the present day and beyond, in which human history is seen as part of the history of our Earth and biosphere, and the Earth's history, in turn, is seen as part of the history of the universe.
Like traditional creation stories told by the world's great religions and mythologies, this lecture series provides a map of our place in space and time. But it does so using the insights and knowledge of modern science, as synthesized by a renowned historian. While you may have heard parts of this story before in courses on geology, history, anthropology, biology, cosmology, and other scholarly disciplines, Professor Christian provides more than just a recap of those disciplines. "Because of the scale on which we look at the past, you should not expect to find in it many of the familiar details, names, and personalities that you'll find in other types of historical teaching and writing," he explains. "For example, the French Revolution and the Renaissance will barely get a mention. They'll zoom past in a blur. You'll barely see them. Instead, what we're going to see are some less familiar aspects of the past. We'll be looking, above all, for the very large patterns, the shape of the past.
"Prepare yourself for a journey through time and across space, from the first moments of existence to the distant reaches of the far future."
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.
©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses
This was my first foray into The Great Courses series of lectures, but it certainly will not be my last.
Professor Christian provides a stellar overview of history in accessible and engaging language.
I began listening to this at the same time that I was reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I found a lot of reinforcement of ideas and details through both. If you are seeking a basic framework for understanding our universe, this is a great asset.
I have been wanting to try one of the "Great Courses" lecture series for some time. I had a little working knowledge of the Big History concepts so I decided to use a credit on this audio course.
Initially I was a little concerned about whether or not these lectures would hold my attention for nearly 25 hours that would be required for the entire course. This concern turned out to be totally unfounded as I was completely taken in by the end of the very first 30 minute lecture!
The scope of the material is vast and wondrous: From the Big Bang to our present technology driven civilization. Throughout the entire series of lectures David Christian moves just fast enough to instill excitement, always reviewing the material every few lectures and previewing what's to come.
Because these lectures are only about 30 minutes in length they offer nice sized info-bites for the listener to digest. You can have as much or a little Big History as you want in nicely packaged increments. In fact, I think that the organization of the lectures in these easily digested increments is one of the more impressive elements of this audiobook as a whole.
The narration is also absolutely first rate. Christian is a practiced speaker and this really shows in his wonderful delivery.
If I have any criticism to offer it is on just two points:
First, these lectures were obviously recorded in a studio environment so I don't see why Great Courses saw the need to dub in the same applause sound track at the end of each lecture. It's distraction and not necessary. Likewise the trumpet fanfare that precedes each lecture is completely unnecessary and artificial.
My second criticism is aimed at the tact that I felt that Christian gets a little too "preachy" when discussing his ideas surrounding global warming. This is limited to only elements of one or two lectures but I did think that it marred an otherwise completely politically neutral outlook.
On balance these are very very minor points of criticism. This is a masterwork that is matched with a flawless delivery and format and well wort one credit!
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Thank you Great Courses!
I loved this listen! I bought it because I had read about Bill Gates' suggestion that this set of lectures be adapted for High School use. He thought it a brilliant new way of looking at the structure and content of the basic history course.
Well, I think he and Professor Christian are absolutely right. This course begins with the real beginning - progresses through the formation of our universe, our solar system, and our planet to the eruption of life, division of species, and, finally, the development of human civilizations.
It's all here and presented in a fascinating way. The Professor is a wonderful speaker, and his enthusiasm for this material is evident and contagious. My husband and I listened during many drives and found ourselves several times going out of our way to avoid arrival before a lecture ended!
I hope Gates can help encourage more school systems to consider "Big History" as a high school course. It's high time for a more inclusive approach to history.
"Big History" is a long trip, but it's a total pleasure. Embrace it!
This is my fourth "Great Course" listen and by far the most fascinating and my favorite. Professor Christian is at the top of his game. I found myself thinking of all kinds of excuses to listen to "just one more lecture". The first lecture defines what "Big History" is and once you know that you are hopelessly hooked. From the idea of the Big Bang theory to where will our universe be millions and millions of years from now, put on your seat belt and prepare for one of the most interesting journeys of your life. I must say it is not for everyone. When bringing up (in a conversation with my spouse) what Professor Christian said about the formation of life and some thoughts about finding life on other planets (and what that life may look like), her reply was "Who cares". I just shook my head and wondered how Professor Christian would react to a student with that response.
There is not another "great course" that covers the span of the "Big History" however another very interesting "great course" is called "The Other Side of History" which is my second favorite listen. Highly recommended also.
Every word is well spoken. Academy award caliber. He has an amazing and interesting way of presenting the facts and theories.
Get to know the Big Bang and where it will end.
Every student dreams of having a Professor like Dr. Christian.
This wonderful compilation of the scientific facts of the origins of matter, life and the rise of humanity is well organized, interesting and a good review or numerous fields. It is a must for the educated.
I have recommended this audio lecture to others. It really makes you think about our place in the universe very differently.
The breadth of the series.
He is such an articulate story teller that you get mesmerized listening to him.
The future of mankind in 1,000 years from now.
This series will broaden you total view of life and the world you live in.
The notion of energy flows and emergent properties unifying different systems of complexity made me see the extent to which everything is interconnected from the Big Bang all the way to modern human sociality.
This is an excellent story of complexity formation. I have seen the connections between complexity at the atomic, galactic, stellar, cellular, geologic and social levels. The only criticism is that the speaker tends to be rather redundant. But overall, this course is a fascinating ride through time, space, history and ideas. I highly recommend it.
I am obsessed with learning. Either about history of society, epidemiology or spirituality. I would say I'm a seeker.
I would recommend with caution. The beginning was amazing but really dragged towards the end.
He was fantastic but his passion was clearly in scientific history and not human history which really made the last half of the lecture drag.
The beginning was AMAZING and I wouldn't trade anything I learned in for anything in the world. I was just a little disappointed that the second half felt less engaging. Like as soon as humans entered the picture in our world history something went missing in terms of passion or color from the lectures. Everything pre-human existence was engaging, colorful, jam packed with fun and memorable facts! I would rate the first half a 10 and the second half a 4.
This is an amazing story, told in an amazing way. You will understand our place in the universe in a very profound way. It's easy to listen, presented with great clarity. HIGHLY recommended.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. —Wayne Gretzky
Big history is not focused on a period, rather in all of them. As the name suggests you get exactly what you are paying for. It all starts on the big bang and covers all 13.4 billion years until the modern era.
To make sense of all this information, the author focuses on thresholds of complexity. The big bang, when the stars lit up, when new chemical elements are created on supernovae, and so on until the modern era.
Collective learning is the mark of humanity.
Among the many new things I've learned from it one that I wont forget is how the author defined what is to be a human (homo sapiens) and it is not using tools - monkeys can do that. Collective Learning - to able to learn and build upon knowledge from people who lived before you - is the key of the rise of mankind.
On summary, get the book.
"Essential Reading for Humanity"
It provides an overview of Humans and their place in history in the larger context of our existence within the universe in a wonderfully accessible way.
It was compelling and fluidly delivered
He is a outstanding lecturer delivering enormous information I a wonderful way
"The history of everything important"
A wonderful series which launches a wealth of knowledge at the listener in a manner which allows it to be absorbed easily.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book and was absolutely hooked. The expansive task of describing the history of the universe, our planet and humankind is expertly handled by the lecturer who delivers in a very professional manner. It is very easy to keep up with the information, as there is very little jargon or complicated material.
You will learn a ton of stuff and be smart as hell if you listen to this.
Fans of History or Science will love it and even if you're not, probably.
"Best way to look at history of the earth"
Absolutely fantastic book and Prof David Christian is brilliant.
The idea to examine things from such a large scale is really thought provoking and allows us to provide some context to where we are today and where we could go.
Andrew Marr's world history book is a good introduction to the big bang, life on earth and the rise of humanity.
Simple sounds like and feels like a very nice man who is able to explain complex subjects in a very understandable way.
Formation of the planets
"13.7 Billion Years in 24 Hours, 25 Minutes!"
This is yet another excellent series of lectures from The Great Courses. Professor Christian brings a wealth of learning to bear on the history of the Universe to date and he conveys the information in an easily understood manner. He has a very good speaking voice and is a pleasure to listen to. Each lecture is approximately 30 minutes long and is thus easily digested but I have to say I found myself usually listening to two or more at a time as they are so interesting. Highly recommended. One of the best audiobook purchases I've made.
The music between lectures is the only criticism! Apart from that, it's brilliant! The way it tackles the vast topic is really clever too.
from zero, to todays hero and beyond ,,, with 13 billion of history in only a few hours
no , so there for i am not able o compare this with his other work, that said I would like to listen to more from the good man
no ,, unless oh ,, and wow are emotional reactions
i enjoyed this book very much, i have listened to a few of these big bang to now courses, this was interesting as had a broader range of disciplines than some of the other courses.
"Drawn out in places but excellent."
There is a section in the middle that I found a little drawn out describing the emergence of human civilisations. However, I bought the series knowing that it was a big time investment and I was very satisfied overall.
The description of the big bang and star formation was particularly fascinating.
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