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brian

Puyallup, WA, United States
  • 5
  • reviews
  • 24
  • helpful votes
  • 24
  • ratings
  • Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity

  • By: Marc Zender, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Marc Zender
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 166
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 164

At just over 5,000 years old, writing is actually a relatively recent invention. It has become so central to the way we communicate and live, however, that it often seems as if writing has always existed. But the question remains: Who invented writing, and why?In these 24 fascinating lectures, you'll trace the remarkable saga of the invention and evolution of "visible speech," from its earliest origins to its future in the digital age.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Spellbinding survey of writing systems

  • By Jacobus on 07-10-14

One of the best great courses

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-17-15

I've listened to around thirty great courses series from audible now and this is one of the best. The information density is quite high, and the professor weaves an engaging series of narrative history on decipherment along with linguistics. I found its execution very similar in style to the set on ancient Egypt. The lack of visible slides (such as a grid of symbols or an inscription that's being described) is an issue because they are referenced frequently, but not a deal breaker.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition

  • By: Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
  • Length: 30 hrs and 11 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,825
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,641
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,610

Grasp the important ideas that have served as the backbone of philosophy across the ages with this extraordinary 60-lecture series. This is your opportunity to explore the enormous range of philosophical perspectives and ponder the most important and enduring of human questions-without spending your life poring over dense philosophical texts.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Hard Review to Write

  • By Ark1836 on 11-20-15

Slow and plodding

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-15

I feel like most of the content was interesting, and think that the survey of the material was at a reasonable level. But considering other excellent options from the Great Courses series, I can't recommend it. The pace that the instructor talks at is painfully slow, I had to turn it up to 2x just to put it a normal conversational speed. I also felt that there was too much moralizing and commentary on the different ideas. However, I think its fair that in many cases he speaks as if he is taking the view point of the philosophers he's discussing, and its just a simple outcome that we moderns would disagree with many older philosophical ideas and arguments.

It would also have been very easy to include "Great Ideas" in philosophy that did not come solely from Greece or Western Europe. The series starts off with a reference to the Upanishads, but that's the last time you'll hear from a non-Western source.

  • Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia

  • By: Alexis Q. Castor, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Alexis Q. Castor
  • Length: 18 hrs and 1 min
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 399
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 363
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 360

All cultures lie in the shadow of ancient Mesopotamia-the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that is now mostly encompassed by the borders of modern Iraq. In this fascinating series of 36 lectures, an award-winning teacher leads you on a vivid journey through Mesopotamian history-from Neolithic times to the age of Alexander the Great.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Kinda Tells you what u need, but not really

  • By tamim on 03-11-15

A substantial yet engaging series

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-04-14

I really enjoyed this series of lectures. Although the example clip is not exhilarating, Dr. Castor does an excellent job organizing the lectures and creating a coherent narrative. The series provides substantial content and details, including names, locations, dates, and the modern history of the excavations and excavators -- while still keeping it manageable if you just straight-play-through the audio without reading other references. The narrative performance is not at the engaging level of Dr. Brier's Egypt or Dr. McWhorter's Linguistics, but I didn't find it difficult to listen to. There are also some jokes thrown in too, which I found especially funny because they caught me off-guard. I recommend this series if you also buy Dr. Brier's "The History of Ancient Egypt", because of the numerous connections between the history of Egypt and Mesopotamia (such as the Armarna period or Assyrian empire).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The History of Ancient Egypt

  • By: Bob Brier, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Bob Brier
  • Length: 24 hrs and 25 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,943
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,738
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,737

Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. It lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. Its Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest building in the world until well into the 19th century and remains the only Ancient Wonder still standing. And it was the most technologically advanced of the ancient civilizations, with the medical knowledge that made Egyptian physicians the most famous in the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incomprehensibly complete

  • By Nassir on 07-09-13

Captivating story of Kmt

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-24-14

Dr. Brier does an excellent job delivering this series of lectures -- they are a true pleasure to listen to. If you're shopping for your next Great Courses series and you're not immediately jazzed about ancient Egypt, after the first couple of lectures you will be, or at least I was. He keeps the narrative free from too much jargon while still packing in richly detailed descriptions. I also enjoyed the frequent anecdotes on the early Egyptologists and their contributions to the field.

Dr. Brier will bring up some details often enough to feel redundant, but to be fair, I will probably never forget now that the Nile flows North and the winds blow South, making it trivial to navigate. However, my biggest gripe having only the audio available was his aversion to giving dates. I agree with him that the relative dating is more important, but if you're familiar with other Near Eastern ancient history, it makes it pretty difficult to align with other events in the Fertile Crescent. Not worth taking any stars off though, it just means looking up some things in a reference as or after you listen.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

  • By: Robert Garland, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Robert Garland
  • Length: 24 hrs and 28 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,118
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,570
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,533

Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tantalizing time trip

  • By Mark on 08-21-13

Vivid and engaging lectures

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-09-14

What made the experience of listening to The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World the most enjoyable?

Garland's ability as a story-teller and use of the second person to "put you in the sandals" of the ancient peoples that he describes, makes this is a vivid and engaging listen. He even has some pretty funny jokes if you listen for them. This would certainly be one of the most fun college courses to take at a University.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

One of the most memorable moments I think is actually in the beginning, as he describes the chaos of the Thera volcano explosion and "your" flight from the island. I really got the sense of a peaceful fishing village in the Aegean bronze age being thrown into a nightmare-ish fit of destruction with the ensuing terror. But the description of medeival Britain and Chaucer's Canterburry Tales, battle as a Greek hoplite, and an Egyptian farmer are all quite memorable.

What does Professor Robert Garland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Although it's not a book but a lecture series, it would have been made for an entertaining read. However it's Garland as a story-teller that sets this apart as an audio-series.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This series would have been a pretty serious commitment to listen to all in one sitting, but with the continuity of topics, it's very easy to listen to for long periods.