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Tommy D'Angelo

North Providence, RI United States
  • 72
  • reviews
  • 361
  • helpful votes
  • 75
  • ratings
  • The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature

  • By: Marc C. Conner, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Marc C. Conner
  • Length: 18 hrs and 41 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 212
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193

Many political and cultural events sent shock waves through the Irish world in the 19th and early 20th centuries as Ireland gradually shook off the shackles of British rule. Alongside a long and painful political process arose one of the greatest flourishings of literature in modern times - a spirited discourse among those who sought to shape their nation's future, finding the significance of their bloody present intimately entwined with their legendary past.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Need to recommend a prerequisite

  • By ELG on 11-13-16

A Masterpiece from Professor Connor

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

Reviewed: 07-15-18

I can't say enough god things about this course. I have been known to be a notoriously tough reviewer but I honestly struggled mightily to identify any kinds of flaws in this masterfully produced course. Perhaps the only minus is the lack of Irish history narrative from 1940's to the present (especially the resolution of the struggles between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland) even if in summation for completeness sake (the political narrative seemed to end in the 1930’s). But this was not the focus of the Irish Identity/Renaissance of the late 1800's and early 1900's.

I've taken one other course with Professor Connor: "How to Read and Understand Shakespeare". And while I thought that was an excellently produced work, this course was just as brilliant and has elevated the professor in my pantheon of favorite instructors which includes Professors Elizabeth Vandiver, Gary Gallagher, and Jennifer Paxton.

I will admit I am much more interested in history than literature and I had some reservations purchasing this course because I knew it would be difficult for anyone to hold my attention through lectures on literature. But I bought it thinking at least I will retain 10 or so lectures on history and just "get through" the literature lectures as a necessary evil. While he knocked the ball out of the park on providing excellent narration of historical events surrounding Ireland from its first inhabitants in the Stone Age to independence in the 1930’s, I was amazed that his lectures on literature also kept me enraptured. He really knows how to capture the human condition.

This course focuses on the Irish Renaissance (the formation of the Irish identity in the late 19th and early 20th century). Its main theme is how Irish literature is inexorably tied up with politics and the search for independence from their English overloads. The historical narrative included (but was not limited to):
o The first inhabitants
o The Celtic people
o Christian missionaries/monasteries
o The Vikings
o England's dominion of the island/union
o The great famine
o The home rule debate
o The Dublin Lockout
o World War I
o The Easter Rising of 1916
o The War of Independence
o The Civil War

Another theme the professor does a good job of positing is the connection between the poets and the land of Ireland itself as if the history and culture is embedded in the soil itself.

For those of you interested in the breakdown: lectures 1-6, 18-19, 23-24, and 35 have a good mix of historical narrative and literature/poetry. The remaining lectures were strictly literature discussions.

Professor Connor has a great voice for lecturing. He has great command when presenting and communicates in a clear and easy to understand style but provides enough detail and color to draw you in to the narrative. He describes the atmosphere of certain events in such a way that makes you feel like you were there yourself. He superbly painted a picture of the land of Ireland and what the Irish identity truly entails.

Even the music that accompanied the intro and endings of the lectures was pleasant and soothing and seemed to fit the general theme of the course: optimism around the preservation of the Irish identity with a hint of sorrow reflecting the struggles and often heartbreaking history of the Irish under British rule. Does anyone know if there is a longer version for purchase anywhere??

It goes without saying that I would highly recommend this course to anyone with even a flicker of interest in history or literature. In fact even if you don't I would suggest it just so you could listen to how a great professor presents and teaches. Textbook stuff.

Please, please, please sign up Professor Connor for another course (hopefully on Shakespeare). And then a second. And third. And...

  • Jesus and the Gospels

  • By: Luke Timothy Johnson, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Luke Timothy Johnson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 189
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 170

For most of the last 2,000 years, questions about the figure of Jesus have begun with the Gospels, but the Gospels themselves raise puzzling questions about both Jesus and the religious movement within which these narratives were produced. Is it possible to shape a single picture from the various accounts of his life given us by these Gospels?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thorough wideiranging overview of scholarship

  • By Jacobus on 08-02-13

Just Not Enough Insight

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

Reviewed: 07-06-18

I had high hopes for this course fueled by my interest in any kind of assessment and discussion of the Gospels. But for whatever reason it did not live up to my expectations. Too many times I found myself zoning out unable to be drawn in by the discussion. Something just didn't click. I guess I was expecting a different approach. I think it is fair to say this isn't an introductory course or at the very least it can be said the professor assumes the listener has a certain level of knowledge going in and not just around Jesus but also of the ancient world. He's one of those professors that at the end you "get" what he's trying to say but the effort to understand the journey/delivery he takes you through can be harrowing. You wished he would've just said things differently!

At first I had a hard time adjusting to the professor's presentation style. The cadence of the delivery of his sentences at times felt a little odd: Sometimes it is too slow to the point you lose interest mid-sentence. Other times he emphasizes what seems to be the wrong word based on the intent of his message. Other times it sounds like he is dragging something out as if he is talking to a group of small children.

There were quite a few times in which I had a hard time grasping a point he was making and I hoped he’d follow it up with “In other words...” or "for example..." and repeat it in a different way. Instead he would just move on to the next topic or point.

However, I did warm up to him as the lectures went on. In fact the way he laughed through lecture 27 (Infancy Gospel of Thomas) as he told the story of the unruly boy Jesus was endearing and I was finally starting to feel a connection to his approach. It just didn't seem to hold up.

Highlights for me included lectures 5 (the early spread of Christianity), 8 (assessing the synoptic problem), and 25 (process of canonization and an introduction to the apocryphal works). Other than that I had a hard time walking away from a lecture thinking "that was indeed worth my time". Don't get me wrong: he does provide great insight at times but it is scattered across 36 lectures in dribs and drabs. It is hard to rate a course higher than 2 stars when that happens. 18 hours is a huge time committment to only walk away with a half dozen or so moments of "wow great insight".

Ultimately though I wouldn't let my review keep you away. You may very well find his delivery and approach more suited to your learning style even if it did not resonate with me. I would just rather listen to Professor Bart Ehrman on Christianity and the Gospels.

  • The Peloponnesian War

  • By: Kenneth W. Harl, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Kenneth W. Harl
  • Length: 18 hrs and 2 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 387
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 352
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 349

The Peloponnesian War pitted Athens and its allies against a league of city-states headed by Sparta. The ancient Greek historian Thucydides captured this drama with matchless insight in his classic eyewitness account of what was arguably the greatest war in the history of the world up to that time. These 36 half-hour lectures draw on Thucydides' classic account as well as other ancient sources to give you a full picture of the Greek world in uneasy peace and then all-out war in the late 5th century B.C.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable, not for Greek newbies...

  • By The World's Greatest on 04-26-16

Alot of time on introduction and minute details

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

Reviewed: 06-25-18

Unfortunately, this course did not meet my expectations. I am very much interested in the war and this time period in history but you had to get through HALF the course to get to the actual war. I think a much better title of the course would be "A History of Athens and Sparta from 490 BC through the Peloponnesian War".

Don't get me wrong: this is not a bad course. It had adequate historical narrative covering the Peloponnesian War as well as other major events in the Greek world involving Sparta and Athens from 490 BC to the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC (with a quick recap of major events in the Greek world until 338 BC).

I thought lecture 7 (Greek-Persian wars) was a clear highlight of the course.

But too much time was spent on minute details without much understanding of how sometimes they all fit into the big picture of the narrative.

And there were too many introductory lectures to the actual war: background information is crucial but 18 lectures seem a bit much! If this course is seen more as a history of Athens and Sparta since the begining of the Persian wars then it makes sense but a lot of the factors that led up to the Peloponnesian War could’ve certainly been summed up in much fewer than 18 lectures.

Another thing that struck me as odd: After many lectures of in-depth details of strategies and play by play minutiae details of individual battles, the discussion on Sparta’s decisive victory to end the war was surprisingly sparse on details and info. In fact until that point we had heard of very few Spartan victories throughout the course and all the momentum seemed to be with Athens. And maybe the sources were light on this reversal but it just seems odd the professor would spend lecture after lecture creating and building a narrative and then introduce a Spartan total victory that was out of character with it and with few details.

If you are interested in the ancient Greek world of the 5th century BC, know alot about the war already, and are interested in learning more then by all means purchase this course. But if you are interested in only the war itself and don't have alot of knowledge on the topic then I feel like you may get more out of another great course: "History of the Ancient World - A Global Perspective".

  • War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000

  • By: Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
  • Length: 18 hrs and 41 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 249
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 220
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 219

For much of the past five centuries, the history of the European continent has been a history of chaos, its civilization thrown into turmoil by ferocious wars or bitter religious conflicts - sometimes in combination - that have made and remade borders, created and eliminated entire nations, and left a legacy that is still influencing our world.This 36-lecture series from an award-winning teacher and honored scholar pursues an explanation for this chaos that goes beyond the obvious ones of political ambition, religious intolerance, the pursuit of state power, or the fear of another state's aspirations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A real quick-paced ovrview

  • By Torsten Will on 12-11-14

A fascinating ride through 500 years of history

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

Reviewed: 06-13-18

I have always been fascinated by European history and the intricate relationships between the various powers. So when I saw this course in the catalog I almost started drooling. A no-brainer to purchase. However, I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my high hopes and standards. Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This was indeed a Great Course.

It had fascinating historical narrative covering the history of European diplomacy, war, and peace from 1500-2000 including the rise and fall of numerous powers throughout the period and the various ever-shifting relationships between them.

The professor did a good job of explaining the often times complicated diplomatic relationships and actions by nations in an easy to understand manner.

A plethora of intriguing topics were covered: balance of power, maintaining an empire vs. nationalism, rebellion, colonialism, isolation, world war, and Cold War.

Although much of the course is focused on the big five of Britain, Prussia/Germany, France, Russia, and Austria the professor also included major events involving many other European nations. To name a few: Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.

Minor gripes:

- Sometimes the professor’s explanations or rationales behind a country’s diplomatic decisions or alliances seem too oversimplified; Only one possible rationale is provided when these decisions are likely much more complicated and intricate and deserve multiple considerations/hypotheses

- The professor sometimes tended to use long winding sentences and because he would sometimes pause to either formulate his wording or avoid “filler” words there were times when it was difficult to follow his meaning or I’d forgot where he was going with something because it took so long to get out that I had forgot the beginning of the sentence!

I also wish a little more analysis could've been provided on the fall of the Communist governments in the late 20th century.

But these are minor gripes and the good far far outweigh them. The mark of a great course for me is one that has me enthralled so much that I can't stop listening from one lecture to another vs. taking breaks to allow a lecture to sink in or balance with other listening options. This one definitely passed the test and I would recommend it to anyone with any type of interest in European history, war, or diplomatic relations.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations

  • By: Brian M. Fagan, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Brian M. Fagan
  • Length: 18 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 572
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 523
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 516

Where do we come from? How did our ancestors settle this planet? How did the great historic civilizations of the world develop? How does a past so shadowy that it has to be painstakingly reconstructed from fragmentary, largely unwritten records nonetheless make us who and what we are?

These 36 lectures bring you the answers that the latest scientific and archaeological research and theorizing suggest about human origins, how populations developed, and the ways in which civilizations spread throughout the globe.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great Conceptually But Becoming Dated

  • By Amazon Customer on 09-25-13

First third of the course is fascinating

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

Reviewed: 05-25-18

After the first third of the course I was utterly engaged and wondering why this course had such negative reviews. By the time I had experienced the last two-thirds of the course I could see why it is currently rating an overall score of 4.0.

One of the main reasons I purchased this course was to learn more about the origins and evolution of early humans prior to the adoption of agriculture and civilizations. And the first 12 or so lectures definitely delivered on that front. I found these discussions fascinating and enlightening. The only criticism I can muster would be that little was said about the social structure of hunter-gatherer societies prior to agriculture; How big were these groups? How were they comprised? What type of interaction or organization existed? However, overall these lectures were the highlight of the course.

But then the last 2/3 of the course (origins of agriculture/farming settlements and the first civilizations) was much less interesting and engaging. Can't exactly put my finger on it but a few general observations on the minus side:

• The professor seemed to spend way too much time discussing the theme of inter-connectedness involving the first urban civilizations in Europe and Asia (how trade drew all of the cultures closer together into a web of economic connections) when more time could’ve been spent on the individual civilizations’ histories and rulers
• Without a map it was difficult to follow some of the lectures including the one on innovations on sea travel between the Mediterranean world and India
• The scope of the course may just be too wide. An astounding amount of time is covered: from our species' origin millions of years ago to the 15th century AD); I like the approach of covering all corners of the globe when discussing the first civilizations but that is alot of ground to cover and maybe the course should've stopped with prehistory or after the very first civilizations in Asia.

A nusiance more than anything: the professor would constantly refer to the Mediterranean region or Near East (middle East) as "Southwest Asia". It kept throwing me off since my first thought when I hear any reference to “Asia” would be China or India so I had to keep orientating myself to "oh he means the middle east".

But I hope you don't think this is a negative review in general. There certainly was good in this course: it is unique in some ways in that it included discussions of empires and civilizations that are not typically well known or covered in other courses including African cultures, the Khmer empire of southeast Asia, and North American cultures. I do give the professor credit for trying to cover such a broad spectrum of time, topics, and civilizations.

In general areas of focus of the course included:
o The first hominids including: Homo habilis and Homo eretus
o Movement of Homo erectus out of Africa and into Asia
o Movement of Homo erectus from Asia to Europe
o Neanderthals in Europe and Asia
o Modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) and their movement out of Africa and into Europe (Cro-Magnons), Asia/Australia, and the Americas
o Invention of human art and spirituality
o Origins of agriculture- food farming and domestication of animals which led to a transition from a hunter-gatherer society to a sedentary one
o The formation of farming settlements in the middle east, Asia, Europe, Pacific islands, and the Americas
o The formation of the first urban civilizations:
 Eastern Mediterranean:
• Sumer/Mesopotamia
• Egypt
• Minoa
• Mycenae
• Hittite
 Asian:
• Harappan/Indus Valley
• Vedic
• Mauryan empire
• Chinese dynasties
• Khmer (in current day Cambodia)
 African:
• Meroe
• Aksum
• East African coast
• Zimbabwe
• West Africa
 Pre-Columbian American:
• Pueblo cultures of the North American Southwest
• Eastern woodlands of North America (mound builder cultures)
• Mississippi cultures in the North American Southeast
• Mesoamerica including Olmec, Maya, Monte Albán, Teotihuacán, Toltecs and Aztec
• South American Andean cultures including Moche, Tiwanaku, Chimu, and Inka

If you're looking for a study of human prehistory (before agriculture/civilization) and the various controversies and theories behind aspects of this time period then I definitely recommend this course. If you're more interested in the origins of civilizations and their histories you may want to instead pick up "History of the Ancient World - A Global Perspective" which I thought was an excellent course. Or "The History of Ancient Egypt" or "Foundations of Eastern Civilization" which I also thought were well done.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues

  • By: Michael Sugrue, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Michael Sugrue
  • Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 272
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 267

These 16 lectures bring the Socratic quest for truth alive and explore ideas that are as vital today as they were 25 centuries ago. Ideas about truth, justice, love, beauty, courage, and wisdom that can change lives and reveal the world in new ways. Here, you'll delve into the inner structure, action, and meaning of 17 of Plato's greatest dialogues, making these lectures an indispensable companion for anyone interested in philosophy in general or Platonic thought in particular.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Easily the best audiobook in my collection

  • By ADRIAN on 02-03-14

Seemed Too Advanced To Me But Professor is Awesome

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

This is the most unique review I have written for the Great Courses: I could only rate this course two stars and could not recommend it but I was mesmerized by the Professor's speaking style! I would've loved an opportunity to take one of his courses in person. This is the only series in which I've heard people in the audience laughing. He is very animated, passionate, contemporary, and must be a master at working a crowd. I just wish I could've gotten into the content better. Maybe because it felt too advanced a course for me but for specific content I would recommend "An Introduction to Greek Philosophy".

  • The Ethics of Aristotle

  • By: The Great Courses, Father Joseph Koterski S.J.
  • Narrated by: Father Joseph Koterski S.J.
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 241
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239

In this 12-lecture meditation on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, you'll uncover the clarity and ethical wisdom of one of humanity's greatest minds. Father Koterski shows how and why this great philosopher can help you deepen and improve your own thinking on questions of morality and leading the best life. The aim of these lectures is to provide you with a clear and thoughtful introduction to Aristotle as a moral philosopher.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Standard class

  • By Russell Granby on 10-27-16

Disappointing

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

The professor's speaking style just did not do it for me. I listened to the entire course twice and I still can't summarize exactly what it was about or pick out any highlights that had be engaged. My mind wandered throughout the lectures.

  • American Ideals: Founding a 'Republic of Virtue'

  • By: Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79

An insightful 12-lecture course that explores the principles that guided the founding of the United States, the conditions that led to the break with Great Britain, and the creation of such founding documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.You'll deepen your understanding of fundamental ideas that inspired American independence and that continue to have a profound influence on American thought. You'll also receive insight into what historians call "the long conversation" in American society.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So much more than anticipated

  • By Claus on 06-29-17

Content was scattered & course lacked cohesiveness

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

I'm sure the Professor has his fans and I can tell he is extremely brilliant and has in-depth knowledge in alot of areas but when I finished this course I found myself asking "What exactly was this course about?" What is frustrating is there were times (especially lectures 4-5, and 8-9) in which he provided some really good insight and I began learning but he would just lapse into his bizarre style of....

1- Not providing any kind of unifying theme for the course; Was this a history of self-government? Was it supposed to be about the origins of American ideologies? Was it a history of early America? The origins of our founding documents? None seemed to fit and he never explained the course's intent or goal! The lectures seemed to have little sequential cohesiveness

2- The professor could not stay on topic! He would digress into weird side discussions and at times have to catch himself and get back to the topic at hand

3- There seemed to be no preparation here; Yes, the professor has amazing breadth of knowledge but the lectures felt like haphazard free-styling sessions in which whatever came to his mind he would say; The conversation was scattered all over the place

4- This was an advanced course and not for beginners wishing to learn about the facts of how the United States of America was formed (what I thought I was getting); He assumes you have in-depth knowledge of everything from the Classical world to French essayists

5- What in the world was the last lecture? Discussing two authors' takes on comparing the American and French Revolutions seemed out of place here...again is this course about ideologies? American history? I wish the course description from the TGC would've been clearer but perhaps even they do not know!

  • Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed

  • By: Edwin Barnhart, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Edwin Barnhart
  • Length: 23 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 840
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 749
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 749

Centuries ago, Spanish conquistadors searching for gold and new lands encountered a group of independent city-states in Mesoamerica. Sophisticated beyond the Spaniards' wildest imaginings, these people were the Aztecs, the Maya, and related cultures that shared common traditions of religion, government, the arts, engineering, and trade. In many ways more advanced than European nations, these societies equaled the world's greatest civilizations of their time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Everything you would ever want and more

  • By Mike Dowling on 03-22-15

Had its moments but also had its flaws

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

While the course has good historical narrative covering the history and culture of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations from about 1700 BC to the present, the lectures and the course in general seemed drawn out (the highlights of the twists and turns of how the Mayan hieroglyphs were decoded could’ve been summed up vs. taking up an entire lecture).

I agree with another reviewer: While the history was interesting and kept me engaged, too many times the lectures veered into the realm of archaeology and geometry. Yes, I would expect some of both when considering this topic but like the course in general, it seemed to go on unnecessarily long.

Pluses: • Good historical narrative covering the history and culture of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations from about 1700 BC to the present; Many villages were covered but the main civilizations covered:
Olmec
Zapotec
Mokaya
Mayan
Teotihuacan
West Mexican
Mixtec
Central Mexican
Toltec
Aztec
Tarascan

• Highlights were the lectures chronicling the time period of the Spanish contact to the 1800’s (Lectures 41-45)

• The professor was easy to understand and spoke clearly (this is always a tremendous plus when spending 24 hours with someone)

Minuses: • While the approach of typically dedicating each lecture to a specific city/region was not a bad one, there were times when the professor would just refer to the civilization being covered by the city name and not distinguishing whether the civilization was Mayan

• The lectures on mathematics and astronomy were difficult to follow; A lot of significant numbers were thrown around and I thought the professor could’ve done a better job of explaining their significance or how they all tie together; Perhaps the video version would’ve been better but it was difficult to follow the lecture on Mayan mathematics on audio (i.e. adding two numbers)

• Lectures and the course in general seemed drawn out

• Found myself zoning out through a lot of the lectures

I don't think you'll find another course that covers this region or the Mayans and Aztecs in as much depth as this course does (or find a professor who can communicate as well) so if you are interested in finding a "definitive" course for these topics this is the one I would recommend even if it has its flaws.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

  • By: Patrick N. Allitt, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Patrick N. Allitt
  • Length: 18 hrs and 8 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,173
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,163

What were the forces that thrust the British Empire to its extraordinary position of greatness and then just as powerfully drove it into decline? And why is nearly every nation on earth, in one way or another, the consequence of the British Empire?In these 36 lectures, Professor Allitt leads you through four centuries of British power, innovation, influence, and, ultimately, diminishment-four profound centuries that literally remade the world and bequeathed the complex global legacy that continues to shape your everyday life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Learn About Great Britain from a Great Briton!!!

  • By Mike on 04-26-14

Exceeded My Expectations

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

Reviewed: 04-21-18

After listening to Professor Allitt's lectures in the "History of the United States" series I didn't have alot of expectations for this course. He sounded personable and knowledable and I thought he did a good job of showing how the country had transformed over the last century but I didn't think he did specific events justice and it was hard to get into his treaching style in general. So going into this course I thought I'd be happy if he at least covered the basic events and didn't expect much else.

Shame on me.

This was a very well-done course and really helped me understand the British Empire and its history. He had me spellbound at certain times (such as lectures 23---World War I, 25---Irish independence, and 28---World War II) and captured my attention throughout. I looked forward to the times during my day when I could listen to this course and tried sneaking it in when I could. I can't think of a better compliment.

This course provided great historical narrative covering the history of the British colonial empire from the exploration days of the 1500s to the disintegration of the empire in the mid 1900s (including histories of most of the countries to 2008); Areas of focus include: o American colonies (starting in Virginia) o West Indies (Caribbean islands) o India o Canada o Australia o New Zealand o Africa (east, south, and west) o Hong Kong, China o Ireland (and to a lesser extent Scotland) o Middle East (Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Palestine, Iraq)

Another stroke of brilliance from the professor: he would often read first hand written accounts from people who experienced specific events or were providing descriptions of the times. He does a marvelous job selecting ones that truly paint a picture of the event/what people felt about the event/time so well that you can’t help but feel placed there yourself. I can see how some people would react to the high frequency with "Another reading? Really? Again??" but he always chose one that captured the essence of the time or the event being disucssed. Kudos.

The only minuses I could find were the way he started and ended his lectures.

He would start off each lecture by providing a preview of a major historical event or time period that he was going to discuss in more detail later in the lecture. But he wouldn’t frame it as such which resulted in me thinking that was the one and only time he’d describe something and I was left wondering why he didn’t provide more meat to the event and why he was moving to the next item so fast. If he would’ve explained it was a preview and he would get into further detail later in the lecture then some of the relation of the events wouldn’t feel so disjointed. This approach wouldn’t leave any real drama relating to the result of the event to hold your attention (such as which side would win a major battle) so it was like you had all the answers in a minute and all that was left was repeating it by providing details.

Addiiotnally, he would often conclude his lectures in a somewhat abrupt manner: there wasn’t much summation of the key points of the lecture or a preview of what the next lecture had in store so there were times when the professor would make a point and suddenly there’d be applause to mark the end of the lecture without any warning that it was winding down! This kept me on my toes, never quite knowing for sure if, after he’d made a point, I’d then hear applause marking the end of the lecture!

All in all though I highly recommend this course for anyone with an interest in British history and its worldwide empire. Since this was such a well-done history course I would even recommend it to anyone with an interest in ANY type of history from the 1500s to 2008.