LISTENER

Tommy D'Angelo

North Providence, RI United States
  • 86
  • reviews
  • 428
  • helpful votes
  • 90
  • ratings
  • Brain Myths Exploded

  • Lessons from Neuroscience
  • By: The Great Courses, Indre Viskontas
  • Narrated by: Indre Viskontas
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,557
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,389
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,378

Much of the layperson's knowledge of the brain is predicated on a lack of understanding about this mysterious organ. To start building a more straightforward, accurate understanding of current breakthroughs in neuroscience, you have to start by shattering popular brain myths.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great lecturer, very enjoyable

  • By Jared T Wilsey on 02-14-17

Just Didn't Find It Too Interesting

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

Reviewed: 01-17-19

I thought this course had a lot of potential. Specifically lectures on sleep, dreaming, and consciousness intrigued me enough to purchase this course. But I could never really get into it. Simply stated I just didn't find it interesting enough.

Maybe I unfairly expected components that wouldn't be in scope like more philosophy of the mind or other theories around dreaming but this just seemed to be one long recitation of study after study and while some were eye opening and do bust some myths most of us carry, the sheer volume of tidbits from this study and that made it difficult to put all of this together. And to be honest I didn't even find the studies themselves very interesting.

The professor's presentation style wasn't bad but I didn't like some aspects of it: at times she seemed smug in what she was presenting, rarely offering differing views. Her attempts at humor also fell flat with me and were odd at times. Okay so she's probably a dog person and aren't too fond of cats but her disparaging jokes about cats seemed out fo place since she's probably irritating or isolating half of her audience! And sometimes the references to her husband and child seemed too much. While they can help illustrate points at time, I really didn't need to listen to her recorded reaction to the first time her child recognized his own name in which she screamed with joy. Nor did hearing her refer to him as meatloaf numerous times help my understanding of the topics at hand.

Sorry maybe I'm being trivial and overly cruel here but the upshot is all of this only contributed to a lack of connection on my behalf with the content/course and instead resulted in me feeling like this course was something to just endure (in case I was missing a really good lecture somewhere at the end) vs. one to really enjoy.

If you have a great interest in neuroscience then this course may intrigue you so take my review for what it's worth but I didn't going in and me thinking it just might turn my interest to the discipline...well that ended up being just a myth.

  • The Catholic Church: A History

  • By: William R. Cook, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: William R. Cook
  • Length: 19 hrs and 13 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 686
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 636
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 633

How did the Catholic Church become one of the most influential institutions in the world-a force capable of moving armies, inspiring saints, and shaping the lives of a billion members? Explore these and other questions as you follow the development of this important institution in 36 informative, fascinating lectures. With Professor Cook by your side, you'll step into the world of the early church, witness the spread of Christendom, and learn about the origins of fundamental church institutions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thorough history presented in a compelling manner

  • By P. Johnson on 01-21-14

Stellar Presentation Skills and Great Content

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

Reviewed: 01-09-19

I wasn't sure what to expect going in. I had been somewhat unimpressed by other courses that covered the history of Christianity ("Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation" and "The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation") and selected this course due to my interest primarily in medieval history in general vs. the church itself and figured I'd only be really interested in lectures 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, and 21.

That's not what I will remember most about this course. Instead it will serve as the definitive history of Christianity/the Catholic Church in my mind.

This course has a lot going for it: great content and a great teacher. Can't ask for much more.

It had great historical narrative on the history of the Catholic church from the first followers of Jesus (communities who wrote the Gospels) to the megachurch of 1 Billion in the 21st century.

The professor has stellar presentation skills: he brings a lot of enthusiasm and good “story telling” to his lectures making it easy for a listener to get engaged and then hooked. I would love to see him deliver a speech or take one of his courses in person. Can't give a better compliment than that.

He does not hide or downplay his Catholicism but I truly feel it did not impact his ability to provide an unbiased objective perspective/insight and present a course based in history vs. religion. It was actually refreshing to hear from someone on this side of the faith...it feels like a lot of courses are taught by historians with a slightly negative viewpoint of Christianity. While the Catholic Church deserves a lot of the negative press it has received concerning recent scandals, it also deserves better press for some of the great blessings it produces. The professor does an excellent job of highlighting both.

For me the highlights were lectures 10 (spread of Christianity in the ancient world), 12 (the church in Charlemagne's time), and 14-16 (church in the High Middle Ages).

Considering I took this course within weeks of having listened to "Popes and the Papacy: A History" from Professor Noble, I was kind of "Poped-out" and would’ve preferred a little less time on the Popes and using that time to cover the spread of Christianity in the Americas, Africa, and Asia in a little more depth. But that's more of a "me" problem. Substantial coverage of Papal history is expected in any course on the history of Catholicism.

This course was well worth my time and I think would be for most of the Great Courses' customers. I would certainly recommend it if you have any interest in the history of Christianity whether you're Catholic or not.

  • The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations

  • By: Andrew C. Fix, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Andrew C. Fix
  • Length: 24 hrs and 17 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 447
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 400
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 392

Between 1348 and 1715, western Europe was fraught with turmoil, beset by the Black Plague, numerous and bitter religious wars, and frequent political revolutions and upheavals. Yet the Europe that emerged from this was vastly different from the Europe that entered it. By the start of the 18th century, Europe had been revitalized and reborn in a radical break with the past that would have untold ramifications for human civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent! (...but the ending could be improved)

  • By FN2187 on 09-12-13

Presentation Style Lacking but Content Makes Up fo

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

Reviewed: 12-22-18

I shied away form this course for years because of the poor reviews. After finally breaking down and giving it a shot I have to admit I'm not sure why there are so many one star reviews out there.

I will certainly concede that the professor's presentation style lacks gusto and without much effort could put someone to sleep (sorry not trying to be harsh but it is the reality for me at least...it was easy to start zoning out into a relaxed state!). Yes, he talks very slowly at times and everything just seems to draggggggg out. Yes, he doesn't appear to be very polished. But once I played the audio on 2x normal speed it was actually a pretty good learning experience. I appreciated the structure and content of the course much better as well as recognizing he had an easy to understand style which is always a plus with me when reviewing courses. I love complex discussions but things should be presented in a simplified easy to comprehend manner.

In the end shouldn't this matter more than the other stuff?

The only other negative to call out is that the professor would often state the motivations and reasons behind people’s actions and events as if they were definitively known but considering these same events are covered in other courses and I’d never heard of these explanations/motivations of others I had my doubts and suspicions that perhaps the professor was trying a little too hard reading the thoughts and motivations of historical people or simplify things too much. I think he could've easily avoided this by framing his thoughts with "It is conjectured that the reason behind..." or "My personal assessment is that...". Even if he said "so-and-so did xxx most likely because xxx" it would have been better than just stating as fact "so-and-so did xx because of xx which caused xx to do xx for reason xx".

I thought this course had good historical narrative on European history from 1348 to 1715 focusing on:
o The Black Death (bubonic plague) and the resulting economic depression
o The Renaissance and the Humanist movement
o Europe's overseas expansion during the Age of Discovery
o The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation including Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Anabaptists, and the English Reformation
o Religious wars of the 16th century
o State building of the 17th century (France, Spain, German states, Netherlands, England)
o The Scientific Revolution and the early Enlightenment

Overall my highlights were:
o Lectures 2 (Hundred Years War)
o 8-9 (history of Italian states)
o 11 (European politics in the age of exploration)
o 20 (history of the Holy Roman Empire)
o 21 (Zwingli and the Protestant Reformation)
o 29-34 (religious wars)
o End of 38 (France’s wars under Louis XIV)

I may have a much different view of this course if I listened to 24+ hours in normal speed but after listening at 2x speed I am left with a generally positive view of this course. Weird to say but it is the reality from my perspective. I did learn alot about the Reformation despite taking other courses that covered it and thought he did a great job on this section of the course. That counts for something in my book and means I would recommend this course as long as you are prepared to balance its positives with its negatives.

  • Popes and the Papacy: A History

  • By: Thomas F. X. Noble, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. X. Noble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 170

Despite the papacy's enormous influence, how much do you really know about this ancient and powerful institution? Catholics and non-Catholics alike will enjoy these 24 illuminating lectures about this remarkable institution. Professor Noble gives you priceless insights into the dramatic history of the papal office and the lives of the men who represented it. Filled with interesting stories and remarkable insights, this course promises to educate, enlighten, and entertain you.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Series

  • By David I. Williams on 05-12-15

A Great History of the Papacy and the Popes

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

Reviewed: 12-11-18

I have to admit this was a much better course than I could've imagined. I was turned off by Professor Noble's course "Foundations of Western Civilization" but my view of him was improved after I listened to his course "Late Antiquity" so I figured it was time to give this course a shot. It had been in my "possible" list for years...intriguing enough (primarily because of its lectures on the middle ages which always interested me) but not enough of the other lectures ever tipped me to the side of purchasing it.

I am glad I did.

I got much more than I anticipated. Alot of the lectures were very fascinating. A good amount of time was spent on the Popes' relations with secular rulers not just in antiquity and the middle ages but to the present. It was a captivating look at how the power of the Papacy ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries as it relates to secular influence.

This course provided great historical analysis covering:

- The evolution of the office of the Papacy from the origins seen in Peter to Pope Benedict in 2005

- Popes bumping heads with the Byzantine emperors in the early centuries of Christianity

- Alliance of the Popes and the Franks (highlighted by Charlemagne crowned as emperor)

- Relations between Popes and German leaders in the High Middle Ages (including the Investiture Controversy)

- Relations between Popes and the French kings (including the time Popes were stationed at Avignon and the “Great Schism” when there were three men claiming to be Pope)

- The papacy in the Renaissance

- The papacy in the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation

- The papacy of Pius IX (the longest reigning)

- Papal relations with the various world warring powers in the early 20th century

- In-depth study of the Popes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries


Lecture 9 (Papal relations with German leaders in the High Middle Ages) was perhaps the most riveting and my favorite.

I can't say I found alot of fault in this course but I did find it slightly odd that certain topics weren't discussed in more depth:

- The interactions between the Popes and the early Franks were covered in detail but little discussion on later Frankish leaders followed; And while the German leaders were brought onto the stage in lecture 7, I was expecting more info on the relationship between the Franks and the Germans and of the Holy Roman Emperor title itself (were Popes involved with selecting successors? What was the nature of the relationship between these Emperors and the Popes?); Some of this was covered in future lectures but not completely

- Surprised to find little info on the Papal bulls involving the Crusades; They were mentioned in passing but considering how much airtime Pope Urban II's call for the first Crusade gets in other courses, you would've thought this was a very minor event indeed after listening to this course

- While the Second Vatican Council was covered in major detail, surprisingly the outreach of the Catholic church to Protestant churches and the Orthodox church that followed as a result of the Council wasn’t covered in much detail; Again, it was mentioned in passing vs. explaining what common ground was found and the sticking points which prevented further reconciliation

But these are minor flaws indeed. I can't quite give it five stars because it didn't blow me away like other courses I've rated as five stars but it was well worth my listening time, had me anxious to get to the next lecture and the next (a measure of a great course), and certainly one I'd recommend to anyone having even a passing interest in the Catholic Church or Christianity in general.

  • Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation

  • By: Thomas F. X. Noble, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. X. Noble
  • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188

Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire painted a portrait of the Roman Empire in a long, debilitating slide to oblivion, but now historians have reevaluated this picture to create a radically different understanding of the period now known as "late antiquity." Far from being a period of decline and fall, late antiquity marked one of history's great turning points.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great speaker!

  • By Nicolas Cobelo on 11-03-17

Better Than I Expected Goinng In

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

Reviewed: 11-27-18

I purchased this course because I was interested in how the professor would cover the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire and the birth of the various barbarian kingdoms but I didn't have high expectations based on my poor experience with his other course "Foundations of Western Civilization".

I got a little more than I would've expected with this course. While he did deliver on the barbarian kingdom front (Lectures 10-13 and 15 were great listening on how the western half of the empire gradually dissolved into a series of barbarian kingdoms), I also found his early lectures on the Crisis of the Third Century and the latter courses on the Byzantine Empire and rise of Islam illuminating and worth the price of admission. Lecture 30 was probably his best one of the entire course (as far as capturing and retaining my attention was concerned) but lecture 33 on the conquests/spread of Islam and lecture 36 comparing the empires of Charlemagne (Franks), Harun al-Rashid (Abbasid Caliphate), and Irene (Byzantine) were right up there.

The downside to me were his lectures on Christianity and the church. Not that these aren't interesting topics on their own but for whatever reason I just wasn't drawn into the conversations on the subject in this course. The rise of the Bishops of Rome (lecture 19) was his best lecture on Christianity.

There were some minor annoying traits of the professors: there were assumptions that the listener has background on certain topics when setting the stage a bit would've help. But more frustrating is when he would come close to explaining something but seemed to fall a sentence short of articulating or summing up his actual point leaving you somewhat guessing. Most annoying is when he wrapped up the thought with his favorite phrase “You see”.

But we all have our own idiosyncrasies. All in all this was a better course than I expected going in considering I was not a fan of his presentation style in his course "Foundations of Western Civilization". I thought I'd end up possibly enjoying just the handful of lectures on the end of the Roman Empire but instead walked away with an appreciation for the way he covered other topics and empires.

These are the general topics covered by the course:

- The Crisis of the Third Century impacting the Roman Empire
- The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine in resolving the Crisis of the Third Century
- Rome’s interactions with the Barbarians
- Visigoths
- Burgundians
- Franks
- Alans
- Sueves
- Vandals
- Ostrogoths
- Lombards
- How the western Roman Empire 's political structure essentially disintegrated into a series of barbarian empires in the 5th century AD and why
- Gaul (France)
- Iberia (Spain)
- North Africa
- Italy
- History of the barbarian kingdoms through aprx. 750 A.D.
- Rise of Christianity and the Catholic church
- Spread of Christianity through the Roman Empire
- Rise of the bishops of Rome (Papacy)
- Origins of monasticism
- Early church fathers
- How the Eastern Roman Empire transformed into a different type of kingdom we now call Byzantine and its history through aprx. 750 A.D.
- The birth, rise, and spread of Islam under these caliphates:
- Umayyad
- Abbasid


Despite some flaws I would recommend this course since it achieves what it set out to do: provide a good overview of the world of late antiquity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age

  • By: Jeremy McInerney, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Jeremy McInerney
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 146
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 136

This series of 24 lectures examines a crucial period in the history of the ancient world, the age ushered in by the extraordinary conquests of Alexander the Great. In all the annals of the ancient world, few stories are more gripping than those from this era. In the opening lectures, you'll explore the enigma of Alexander, son of a brilliant father, yet always at odds with the man whom he succeeded. Just as important to these lectures are the in-depth discussions of the bounties of Hellenistic culture, which contributed landmark ideas in everything from philosophy, art and architecture, and religion.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Overview of Alexander and Hellenistic Empires

  • By Mike on 03-22-14

Good Background on the Hellenistic Kingdoms

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

Reviewed: 11-05-18

This was a better course than I anticipated. I had taken Professor McInerney's "Ancient Greek Civilization" course and was left unimpressed so I shied away from this one for way too long. The allure of learning more about the Hellenistic kingdoms was too strong so I caved in and purchased this course and I'm glad I did. Most of his lectures were much more engaging than his other course. He did a good job of covering all aspects of this age.

Admittedly the lectures on social life (poetry, sculpture, religion, etc.) didn't get me jazzed up but that isn't a fault of the professor: I've always been more interested in political histories. And he delivers in that arena: lectures 5-10 and 22-24 are tops. The last three lectures focused on the Hellenistic kingdoms' interactions with Rome and were riveting.

The first four lectures focus on Alexander the Great and the Professor does a good job of getting us thinking: what if Alexander hadn't run out of time and died young? In fact he has a good knack of concluding lectures on a contemplative note (lecture 7 ends on the invention of the discipline of literature criticism in Ptolemaic Egypt and got me thinking: do we have the definitive versions of Shakespeare because the interest in such an activity started in this period?).

My only real negative feedback is the lack of info on the Macedonian empire post Alexander. Its battles with Rome are covered at the course's conclusion but not much else on it for about 200 years.

If you're interested more in Alexander I'd recommend Professor Harl's "Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire" course since it delves much deeper into his years but Professor McInerney's course is your choice if you're interest lies with the Hellenistic kingdoms that followed Alexander. Well done.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Consciousness and Its Implications

  • By: Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 168
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 147
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 147

Consciousness, a unique and perplexing mental state, has been the subject of debate for philosophers and scientists for millennia. And while it is widely agreed within contemporary philosophy that consciousness is a problem whose solutions are likely to determine the fate of any number of other problems, there is no settled position on the ultimate nature of consciousness. This series of 12 penetrating and thought-provoking lectures by an acclaimed teacher and scholar approaches its subject directly and unflinchingly.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Best

  • By Alexander C. Eustice on 02-14-15

Great Topic, Poor Course

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

Reviewed: 10-26-18

Philosophy of Mind is an intriguing topic: where does the mind and consciousness come from? Does something physical like the brain produce it or is it created some other way externally? Other courses from The Great Courses have tackled the topic and the debate got me hooked so much so that I finally ignored the poor reviews for Professor Robinson's "Consciousness and its Implications" as well as my poor experience with another of his courses ("American Ideals") and went ahead and purchased it.

Big mistake.

I love how philosophers remind us that the simplest of explanations should be used to demystify a "problem" vs. introducing complicated theories that may involve more than one external variable yet Professor Robinson takes great pains to ensure that every sentence he uses is in the most esoteric, complex terms using the largest words imaginable when simple explanations would've done just fine.

I'd like to think of myself as an educated learned individual but I honestly didn't understand anything he stated in the first nine lectures. I even tried ending all multi-tasking (pull that car over) and really concentrated on his every word but I still just couldn't make sense of almost all of his sentences. Maybe his friends from Oxford speak that way but to me it could've been in another language for all I knew.

Lecture 10 was the first one I could actually follow along and thought it was an interesting debate but at the end I was still left wondering exactly what his take/position was....I was beyond frustrated at that point wondering why he can't just speak in simple terms.

Unless if you have a PHD in this stuff please save your money. I would suggest these courses on Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness: "Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines" and "Exploring Metaphysics".

  • Great World Religions: Buddhism

  • By: Malcolm David Eckel, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Malcolm David Eckel
  • Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 100
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 85

Discover why Buddhism is such an astonishingly lively and adaptable religion with this series. In just 12 accessible lectures, you'll learn how Buddhism transformed the civilizations of India and much of Asia, and has now become a vital part of Western culture.Buddhism's core philosophy, as you'll learn, is that nothing is permanent-all is change. With this in mind, you'll plunge into an introductory look at this faith. You'll unpack the Buddhist idea that all of life is "suffering" and that there is no permanent self.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Very Good Introduction; but not a Course.

  • By Lotus54 on 07-15-13

Did Not Capture My Attention

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

Reviewed: 10-08-18

I had originally purchased and listened to the professor's other course ("Buddhism") but I just could not get into it. I felt like there was too much "talking" (and a little bit of fluff) and not alot of teaching or explanation of the differences of the various types of Buddhism.

So I purchased this course thinking with half the time allotted the professor would likely cut out alot of the stories and focus only on the key discussion points of Buddhism. Unfortunately, alot of what was said in the other course was repeated here (including his personal anecdotes) and it had a similar effect on me: I found myself drifting away unable to stay focused on the lectures. If I wasn't driving I could easily fall asleep because my attention was never grabbed and held hostage. Alot of times it felt like a grandfather telling random stories with some history sprinkled in but not alot of explanation.

Don't get me wrong: his presentation style isn't all bad and his style may very well work for you and you may learn alot. He comes across as a very affable person who is knowledgeable and dedicated to this field of study. I just wish there were deeper discussions of how the various types of Buddhism differed from one another. I don't feel like that was conveyed very well. Lectures 3 and 4 took me the closest to an understanding of the core of this great tradition and placed me in deep reflective thought. But it didn't last from there.

If you're interested in the basics of Buddhism, for my money I would suggest courses like "Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know" and "Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition".

  • Introduction to Judaism

  • By: Shai Cherry, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Shai Cherry
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 236

As a religion, culture, and civilization, Judaism has evolved in surprising ways during its long and remarkable history. In this series of 24 lectures, Professor Cherry explores this rich religious heritage from biblical times to today. From the first lecture on the Torah to the last on the Jews as the Chosen People, this course is packed with truly fascinating information.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb!!!

  • By Edward Zeiser on 06-12-15

Remarkable Course on Judaism

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

Reviewed: 10-03-18

While I'm very familiar with Biblical Judaism, I purchased this course because I was interested in learning more about early Rabbinic Judaism and the various sects of Judaism in the world today (I thought the "Beginnings of Judaism" course had some good info on the formation of Rabbinic Judaism but of course it centers on a very specific period of time and did not take the evolution of the religion into modernity).

Mission accomplished. Professor Shai Cherry delivered exactly what I was interested in: overviews of all of the aspects of Judaism and did not get bogged down in details or complex theological discussions.

He marvelously covers all aspects of Judaism: from history to religious law/ritual to tenants of the faith to holidays to prophecy to the differences in the various sects of Judaism today. And all in a very easy way to understand. He is a great presenter.

He made the Talmud more accessible and comprehensible by providing many examples of law debate and interpretations from the Mishnah and Gomorrah.

Highlights for me included Lectures 8 (Afterlife) and 20 (Zionism). Riveting discussions!

The only real negative that comes to mind is that there didn't seem to be alot said about the common rituals in the life of a Jewish man or woman. For example, I don’t recall any mention of Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

But that hardly swayed me away from an excellent rating. If you are on the fence like I was on whether to buy this course (worrying if my interest level would hold up for 24 lectures), then I would highly recommend you going for it. When I can't stop listening from one lecture to the next then I know I've purchased a quality product. I don't know if a course on an introduction to Judaism could've been done any better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Great World Religions: Hinduism

  • By: Mark W. Muesse, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Mark W. Muesse
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 334
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 297
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 290

In this 12-lecture series, you'll encounter a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all; one that worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and one that rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine. These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You'll explore the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An important introduction into Hinduism

  • By Jacobus on 05-09-14

A Well Done Introductory Course

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

Reviewed: 09-25-18

For an introductory course this was well done and fits some really good content in 12 short lectures. While I'm sure it is difficult to adequately cover all of the aspects of Hinduism in such a short period of time, I left the course certainly feeling like the essence of this great religion was presented in an easy to digest manner.

This course covers all of the foundations and aspects of Hinduism from the ancient societies that formed the religion to its sacred books, to its main beliefs, to its pantheon of gods and goddesses, to the stages of life for a Hindu man and woman, to Hinduism’s interactions with other religions and peoples.

My personal highlight was Lecture 12. The professor brings the history of Hinduism up through our times focusing on its interaction with Islam and imperial Britain. Thrilling stuff!

The reason I couldn't give this five stars is it just didn't keep me at the edge of my seat the entire time and that is mainly attributed to the professor's teaching style.

He had a certain air to him that made him seem too academic, almost robotic with little change of tone/emphasis and not much personality. I know this shouldn't matter in the long run when evaluating courses since judging one by personality vs. whether they taught effectively sounds shallow but The Great Courses has always been good at featuring professors who help you feel like the time spent was satisfying not just because you learned something but also because you were entertained and enthralled while doing so.

Another downer was the discussion on the Bhagavad-gita (Lecture 10). Having listened to a number of other Professor's takes on this great book, I found this one to be lacking. Sure the professor narrated the events of the book and covered the important sayings but he didn’t seem to weave them into anything resembling a summary of its main theological meaning or insights as well as Professor Berkson did in "Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know" or Professor Hardy in "Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition".

Still, this doesn't change my overall positive impression of the course. There is no better compliment to pay an instructor than: I walked away learning things I hadn't known going in. This course achieved that objective: Professor Muesse enriched my understanding of Hinduism. Good work!