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Editorial Reviews

The complete guide to a classical education is heard in A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You’d Been Taught At School written by freelance editor Caroline Taggart and narrated in this audiobook by British actor and voice artist Bill Wallis. The scope and depth of research in this book is staggering. It covers innumerable topics of educational and historical significance. Listeners are taken to the roots of ancient civilisations, learning how the first pioneers in these subjects made advancements that paved the way for the world we live in today. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

Is the Greek alphabet all Greek to you? Is geometry your Achilles heel and does your knowledge of Homer have more to do with The Simpsons than the Sirens?

From engineering and architecture to drama and democracy, the world around us is founded on the principles and discoveries of the Ancient World, yet our understanding of it is episodic at best.

So if you've ever struggled with Socrates, wished you could formulate a logical argument or wondered whether the Romans really dined at vomitoria, then carpe diem and listen to this audiobook it's never too late to learn.

©2009 Michael O'Mara Books Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Reader's Digest approach to the classics

If you read a lot you probably don't need this book. If you don't read a lot you really don't need this book.

That said, it's a nice fluffy overview of some key figures of classical times. The author may be a touch condescending initially, but her love of the material shines through and her writing is witty and light. (Indeed, I don't know where else you'd get such an overview that wouldn't just put you to sleep).

My major problem with this version is that, though the narrator is quite skilled, he seems to be dropping his voice volume at times and it sometimes makes it hard to hear if you're listening in a car. (Haven't had this problem with other Audible books and I suspect it's the narrator, not the recording). If the volume were better, I'd rate this at least a 4 star performance.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Pompous circumlocution without significant intellectual content

Imagine being trapped in a broken elevator with a pompous drunk Oxford undergrad, or an unemployed but class-privileged grad whose never worked an honest day...and you can imagine the nonsense babble of this book. Do yourself a favor and buy Gary Cox's "Deep Thought 42 quotes...". Both are well performed. And one of them has worthy content.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • catherine
  • 12-01-10

Light but not insubstantial

An appreciation of the 'Classics' always seemed to be just out of reach. This book provides an instructive and accessible opportunity to dip a toe into this wonderful world.
I do not doubt that more learned scholars may scoff at the delivery but I found it very entertaining. There are so many fantastic stories, surprisingly relevant events and moments of recognition - dare I say enlightenment?
A gem for all ages and sensibilities.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-28-10

Content is great but not as audio

There are some very interesting bits and pieces in this but it is definitely a book that is better as a book. I am not sure if this lends its self to the audio book format due to the complexity of some of the content.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 07-06-13

An amusing run through

A little odd having the obvious female voice of the author read by a man, especially as some of the jokes about the place of women are written in a very personal style, but once you learn to treat Bill Wallis as a woman it's very worthwhile! Worth a listen as a fairly short title. Very enjoyable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Hanna
  • 05-07-12

I should just have read the book

Couldn't go further than 20 minutes. The book seems to be nice, but the narrator sometimes drops his volume and breaths loudly. And also he doesn't use a neutral inflection, it appears to be his everyday voice...
I think that most people would like to forget that someone is narrating, but I just cannot do this.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-22-16

Surprisingly good!

What made the experience of listening to A Classical Education the most enjoyable?

The combination of written style and the way of narration made this book beyond perfect, at least for me.

What does Bill Wallis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His way of narrating exceeded my expectations. If I go back to this book in the future, it will be by a big part due to his performance.

Any additional comments?

It has been ages ago since I have purchased the book and I was delaying listening to it as, for me, it represents only a repetition of something I already know. Well, I did not expect such a vivid style of writing combined with a superb and far from boring narration. This is a topic that could be handled in a formal rather dry manner, however Caroline Taggart managed not only to add a humorous side to it all but also added quite a few facts I was not aware of. I really enjoyed her style. To choose Bill Wallis as an interpret was an excellent idea. I believe that some might not appreciate his way of speech, but for me he added even biger value to already well written book. I intend to purchase other books by the author and the narator, alas, they have not combined them in more audiobooks and they go separately since now on.

I would recommend this not only to people interested in the given period but also to students whose curriculum includes parts of classical education. Good way to start digging deeper in the topic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Liz
  • 06-07-18

Wonderful book, beautiful read

I very much enjoyed this book. I was rather hoping it would be read by the author. However, the narrator was perfect and caught the style and the author’s huge wit marvellously.

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  • Steve
  • 06-02-18

Fun and educational

Loved the content and the narration. Learnt a lot and has piqued my interest in further reading more about classical history

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  • Yeh C.
  • 02-22-18

Excellent narrator to an enjoyable book

An excellent short introduction to the subjects comprising the classics including Philosophy, Language, Science and the Arts. This was made all the more enjoyable by the impeccable narrator Bill Wallis

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  • Alex Gerard Black
  • 12-21-17

Fascinating fun

A great book that I've read twice before and now listened to. By far the strangest decision is having a man read this - he does a fine job, but the author's voice is very clearly female and it's jarring at times.

A great book to ease oneself into the classics with, nice and accessible. Now onto the Iliad...

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  • Gibran Butt
  • 11-13-17

great whistle stop tour.

this is a great short summary, although i would have prefered it to elaborate on some stories.

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  • JOHN W
  • 10-01-17

Fun, Fast, Interesting and Intriguing.

You may think this book is an academic exercise in classical literature, however the author has done a great job of bringing a classical education into a fun forum and given us a contemporary edge to the topic. I totally enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone that has even a passing interest in the subject.

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  • Victor
  • 08-01-17

Return visits will happen

I enjoyed this - the reader, channeling Derek Jacobi, was spot on for the job, if a little stagey here and there. The material is fascinating. The book well written. I'll be returning to this one.