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Publisher's Summary

Study more than three dozen works that span the timelines of Western history, from ancient Greece and Rome to the modern age. Whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago, the enduring works of literature still speak to us and place our unique experiences into a larger perspective, offering invaluable lessons for every important moment in life.

Every Great Book you explore over these 36 insightful lectures-from the Odyssey and the Gospel of John to Hamlet and Animal Farm - is a unique expression of the human spirit and a fountain of advice, from how to conduct yourself in times of trouble to how to better appreciate the simple moments in your life.

You'll discover six broad themes that run through history's most compelling stories: the unconquerable human spirit, youth and old age, romance and love, adventure and courage, laughter and irony, and patriotism. In exploring these themes within the context of these Great Books, you learn new ideas about both the works themselves and the broad scope of the human condition.

If you haven't read these Great Books before, the warmth of Professor Fears's storytelling and his insightful approach to literature will have you heading to the library to learn more. And if you've already read these works, you'll discover new themes and ideas that will help you get more out of them.

Regardless of your previous familiarity with these works, you'll come to understand why these masterpieces remain eternal testaments to the variety of human experience and the powerful ways in which literature can guide and inspire us.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses

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Average Customer Ratings

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Interesting but a bit scattered by Prof. Fears

If you could sum up Life Lessons from the Great Books in three words, what would they be?

Insightful. Entertaining. Scattered.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Life Lessons from the Great Books?

Recounting the story of the Odyssey, he reads his interpretation of the lesson from the book and you get a real feeling that this one struck him just a bit deeper then some of the rest.

Have you listened to any of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Prof. Fears has done tons of wonderful content for TTC and this one is not an exception.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His descriptions of the lives of Washington and Lincoln in discussing their farewell and inauguration speeches rekindled a desire to research both.

Any additional comments?

Two minor quibbles: Prof. Fears structures the course as a series of themes, so the books feel a bit disjointed - he'll be talking about Greeks, then suddenly he'll be in early America. It also felt a bit "Western Civ" oriented (So the Tale of the Genji had nothing to teach us?)<br/><br/>But those two criticisms aside, I can happily recommend this series to anyone who likes to hear a very intelligent, thoughful person talking about something they're passionate about.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Excellent series on lessons from the great books

This was a very well performed series of lectures on the great books. The professor would summarize a book in each lecture and then draw some generalities that we can apply to our own lives. Sometimes these lessons seemed a little too general or strained, but overall it was a good exposure to a number of books I wasn't familiar with, and a good refresher on other books I haven't read in years.

The best thing I can say is that it has inspired me to want to read several of the books covered in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great course!

I really appreciate Rufus Fears classical perspective of focusing on the lessons/wisdom to be gained from the history and the classics as opposed to the composition of the stories. His knowledge of history and classical approach provides context to the classics and does more than just provides a "cliff's notes" version of the stories. After this course I was genuinely interested in reading or re-reading several of these classics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Same exceptional style as The Wisdom of History

This course fits nicely with Professor Fears' course The Wisdom of History, which is by far my favorite of The Great Courses. like it, Fears teaches to specific life lessons he draws from the material. I seldom see this approach. Most teachers give you the dry material with little context and no guidance on what lessons to draw from it. He manages to humanize every person he talks about. On top of all this, he possesses the best lecturing style of anyone I have heard.

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Exceptional Teacher

Professor Fears is an exceptional teacher, his message is captivating and memorable. The best part of the book is his definition of a great book. &quot;A great book possesses four qualities: 1) It deals with a great theme. 2) It is written in noble language. 3) It speaks across the ages. 4) It speaks to us as individuals.&quot; He uses this as a rubric for each book discussed. Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

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one of the best

this is a must read, entertaining and helps you to learn so much about the great books and also this is one of the best narrators in the audible collection

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  • Benoibe
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 09-21-13

A preacher? Religiosity....

This seemed like a great course. However I couldn't listen beyond Part One.

The professor comes across as a TV evangelical. I have no issue with that, except it isn't scholarly or interesting for me. I've had enough of bible studies. I expected great works of literature to be discussed. Not speeches and gospels. From the start of the series, the professor sets a tone that is too preachy for me to continue. Gospel is definitely an interesting subject, but the interpretation here of John's gospel made me very uncomfortable. If were not Christian, I imagine I would be offended that he pulls a Mel Gibson and makes a point to place blame for Jesus' death on Jewish leaders. There is no life lesson there.


Disappointed.

18 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • Bernd
  • 12-02-15

Engaging, inspiring and entertaining

If you could sum up Life Lessons from the Great Books in three words, what would they be?

Hear, amuse and enjoy!<br/>You can learn a lot about history together with human motivations and emotions.

What other book might you compare Life Lessons from the Great Books to, and why?

Some Other books from the series "The great corses" are also fascinating and instructive.

What does Professor J. Rufus Fears bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His emphasis, his intonation and to the same time humour and sincerity make the book more interesting.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A furious ride trough history and mythology.

Any additional comments?

Buy it , hear it and have fun! - And look after the other books from the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Oliver Gajtanski
  • 10-20-16

A great lesson to life

This book will get you interested in history and literature. I loved it and can highly recommend

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rajshekhar
  • 02-02-16

Simply great!

Outstanding stories that teach you good values from the lessons history has taught us. The contextualisation is what makes the stories interesting and easy to understand.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 11-13-17

marvellous

I found it difficult to stop listening. delivered in a very engaging and passionate style. personally challenging and potentially life changing. highly recommended.