I highly recommend this lecture series. Professor Harl is a fantastic presenter thus making an interesting subject even more so given his depth of kno..Show More »wledgeable and dynamic coverage of Viking History.
I took a risk in choosing a lecture series for the first time on a subject I was only mildly interested in. The risk paid in spades. I honestly expected an arduous churn up a deep information stream and yet found I was shooting the rapids with a fascinating guy: great voice, dynamic spirit, excellent depth, intriguing side bars. I found myself consumed by the lectures and now seeking out more about the lore and history of Vikings.
I can't answer this question because it's just . . . different. I'm a literary fiction person, and I've tried to get into historical texts before wit..Show More »h little success (I know it's sacrilege, but I stopped part way through 1776). I've had some success with biographies.
This was my first attempt at a Great Courses program, and I picked it up because I had just read Pillars of the Earth (and, side note, READ THAT), and I couldn't get enough of Medieval England. The complexities really drew me in. So I somewhat reluctantly downloaded this program and had one of those glorious experiences where I couldn't unplug. I've reorganized my entire home and office to have some excuse to keep listening.
History has always been tough for me because I'm not a great linear thinker, but Paxton really helped with her guideposts at the beginning and end of each lecture, as well as at the beginning and end of the series. I can't say enough good things about this lecture. I keep bringing it up in my real life.
I didn't think I'd have a good experience with lecture series (though lectures have always been my favorite part of school--related to the fascination with audiobooks), but I am so enamored with this one that I'm moving on to the Ancient Egypt lecture. If you're hesitating, don't. Paxton is a great storyteller and keeps you engaged throughout.
Kenneth Harl’s series of lectures forms a good basic introduction to the Crusades. Seven of them are covered in detail, from the first, with Raymond o..Show More »f Toulouse and Bohemond of Sicily, through the seventh, with Louis IX of France leading a disastrous invasion of Egypt. The battles are described at a high level but with enough detail to be coherent.
But there's a great deal more in here than just the Crusades: as the title suggests, there's also quite a bit about the Era as well. One area where this is especially true is the coverage of Byzantium. Harl provides several lessons’ worth of the history of this eastern half of the Roman Empire and the leaders who pushed its boundaries even further east and north. There are times when he makes Constantinople sound like King’s Landing in The Game of Thrones. Basil the Bulgar-Slayer figures prominently in his account of Byzantine history.
There's also quite a bit about society and technology: the rise of the merchant class, the switch from “two-field” to “three-field” agriculture, the switch from “shell building” to “frame building” in the shipyards, and the development of armored warfare, giant battle horses, and regiments of archers.
Some things I expected to hear are skimmed over in Harl’s lectures. There wasn't much here about the “people’s crusade” and the slaughter of Jews that followed; nor much about the leaders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. (I have to admit that much of my interest in this aspect of the story stems from the film The Kingdom of Heaven.)
But there's much here that's new and surprising and it's well worth the listen. Harl delivers his material with energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately he sometimes slips into a “you’re not gonna believe THIS” tone, but mostly he's speaking clearly and engagingly about a subject in which he is obviously an expert - which of course is what you'd want from a Great Course.
I do wish the producers of the Great Courses would ditch the canned applause at the beginning and end of every lesson. The material IS good - we don't need an “applause track” to reinforce the point.
I adore the medieval in any form, but this professor makes a period that is so obscure come alive. He doesn't romanticize the period nor does he belit..Show More »tle it. He inserts humor and quotes that still stick with me.
I am so pleased that Teaching Co is now on Audible
Philip Daileader is one of my favorite Teaching Company lecturers. I have listened to his 3 middle ages from TC directly and I just finished this Crus..Show More »ades piece. Terrific. A great way to learn history from one of the great professors on the subject. I recommend all 4 series. All 4 are available on Audible now.
I really enjoyed the lecturer, Dr Armstrong has an enthusiasm that is infectious. her interest is supported by and informed with research. Althou..Show More »gh I typically don't enjoy listening to the insertion of quotations and source citations she does this in an non-obstructive way. I will definitely search for other lectures by Dr Armstrong.