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Publisher's Summary

Complete your knowledge of the ancient world with this comprehensive look at the dozen empires that flourished in the 2,000 years before the conquests of Alexander the Great. Over the course of 36 insightful lectures, you'll follow the Egyptians, the Mycenaean Greeks, the Persians, the Carthaginians, and others as they rise to glory, create administrative and military structures, clash with one another, and eventually collapse.

Professor Dise immerses you in the political, administrative, and military details of these thrilling civilizations, analyzing three basic questions: How did this particular empire emerge? How was it governed and defended? How and why did it ultimately fall? These questions raise a host of profound issues on the growth, development, and failures of vast imperial systems.

Grounded in a chronological approach, you'll find no better guide through the palatial halls, administrative offices, and war-torn battlefields of these empires than Professor Dise. Each lecture is packed with a range of rich sources on which our current understanding of the ancient Near East rests, including cuneiform tablets, colorful narratives, and archaeological remains.

As you comb through these intriguing records, you quickly become more informed about how the past is recorded and passed down to subsequent generations. Spanning thousands of years of human history and encompassing regions both familiar and forgotten, this course is a remarkable tour through the farthest reaches of the ancient world - in all its marvelous diversity.

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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University Level Lecture Series

Where does Ancient Empires before Alexander rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I listen to a lot of ancient history lectures. Some are broad, some are basic, some are thematic, some are popular, some are casual. This series is serious. This isn't an "aren't-the-Greeks-amazing," "how-the-Romans-are/aren't-like-us," "Egypt-is-cool" lecture. Don't get me wrong, I love those lectures, but this is University level serious. <br/><br/>This is a deep dive into the ancient bronze age superpowers of the Mediterranean and Near East. Every lecture has so much critical information packed in. I needed to stop more than once and consult maps or just pause to take it all in. The lectures are organized chronologically by civilizations. Some time periods overlap as he follows each empire's timeline from rise to fall. It was helpful for me to listen to a set of lectures for one empire and stop rather than binge on them right after another. <br/><br/>I've listed the lecture outline below. Standouts for me were the Kingdom of David and Solomon, The Mitanni, Every Lecture on Hatti (the Hittites), The Collapse of the Mycenaean World (interesting Sea Peoples ideas), Every lecture on the Assyrians, and the Carthage and early Rome lectures (interesting from the Carthaginian point of view). All lectures are rich with essential details and not much fluff. If you are not already into the ancient world, you might hate this and I'd recommend another audible choice. If you are into the ancient world, I recommend Ancient Empires before Alexander as *THE* advanced course. I absolutely love this series and it's the one I refer back to for comparison to any new ancient world media I come across.

Any additional comments?

Lecture Table of Contents<br/>1 A Meditation on Empire<br/>2 Lands, Seas, and Sources<br/>3 Sargon and the Dawn of Empire<br/>4 The Third Dynasty of Ur<br/>5 The Empire of Hammurabi<br/>6 Mitanni and the Kassites<br/>7 The Rise of Hatti<br/>8 The Government of Hatti<br/>9 Hatti at War<br/>10 The Climax and Collapse of Hatti<br/>11 The Rise of the Egyptian Empire<br/>12 The Imperial Army and Administration<br/>13 The End of the Egyptian Empire<br/>14 The Minoan Thalassocracy<br/>15 Mycenae and the Dawn of Greece<br/>16 The Collapse of the Mycenaean World<br/>17 The Birth of Israel<br/>18 The Empire of David and Solomon<br/>19 The Dawn of Assyria<br/>20 The Rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire<br/>21 The Government of Assyria<br/>22 Assyria at War<br/>23 The Climax and Collapse of Assyria<br/>24 The Neo-Babylonian Empire<br/>25 The Rise of the Persian Empire<br/>26 The Outbreak of the Greek Wars<br/>27 Xerxes and the Invasion of Greece<br/>28 From Plataea to the Peace of Callias<br/>29 The Persian Empire from 450 to 334<br/>30 The Government and Army of Persia<br/>31 Alexander and the Fall of Persia<br/>32 The Origins of Carthage and Its Empire<br/>33 Ruling and Defending Carthage's Empire<br/>34 The First War with Rome<br/>35 Hannibal and the Fall of Carthage<br/>36 Ancient Empires before Alexander, and After<br/>

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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the Dream of Empire.

great courses isn't just a title this is truly a great course. I enjoyed every minute of these lectures listening for hours at a time

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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very interesting story very well told

What made the experience of listening to Ancient Empires before Alexander the most enjoyable?

despite what a couple of other reviewers said about the professor sounding monotone...I found his way of speaking quite interesting and think he actually is a great speaker. I will admit some times I wondered if he was reading his thesis papers but if you pay attention to what he is saying ...it is very interestingly told and actually his "monotone voice" begins to refreshingly stand out from other speakers of Great Courses..some of whom sound like they are imitating Bill Gates or like to use "uh uh, uh" a lot! (not this one!)

Any additional comments?

recommend it highly If interested in ancient civilizations....great stuff here!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great story interesting delivery

Any additional comments?

The author took a long and complex story and made it interesting. Unlike most history lessons filled with facts but very dry this series was filled with useful information and even a bit of humor, It keep my interest throughout.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thoroughly enjoyable.

Professor Dire explains interesting facts in great detail. A few corny one-liners thrown in too.

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No Big Picture; Not Very Engaging

I purchased this course primarily because I was interested in learning more about ancient Mesopotamia. I thought the &quot;History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective&quot; course provided an excellent overview of the region but due to the breadth of the course, it could only dedicate a few lectures to it. I was disappointed with &quot;Between the Rivers: The History of Ancient Mesopotamia&quot; so I decided to try Professor Dise's course. Unfortunately, I had the same general reaction: I just couldn't get into this course. It didn't draw me in.

The professor states up front the course is focused almost exclusively on the political and military narrative history of the empires. Which is usually right up my alley because that is what interests me the most. However, the delivery of the content caused me to zone out way too often. While it was somewhat dry and monotone, the real issue in my estimation is that the professor didn't seem to take the time to pause the narrative every now and then and explain big picture where some of the developments have led us. He went from one battle to another to one kingdom rising to another to the point where it sounded like nothing more than a recitation of straight facts of kings that conquer other kings with no real &quot;story&quot;. While I understand teaching is not about entertainment, alot of the other Great Courses out there combine both which is what keeps one coming back for more and has made me a life-time fan. In that respect, this course is lacking.

Lecture 17 on the beginnings of Israel was about the only lecture that stroke my interest. Comparing the historical account of events in the Bible with other archaeological evidence was thought provoking.

If you are one who is satisfied with listening to just the facts about these ancient empires, their kings, their battles, and their falls in a steady manner with no pause for reflection on bigger pictures then this could be the course for you. If you like a little entertainment with your lectures or more overarching analysis or something to draw you in then I'd say stay away and instead go with the superb &quot;History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective&quot;. Meanwhile, my search for a quality Great Course on ancient Mesopotamia continues...

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Solid Instruction on Ancient Med. Empires

Any additional comments?

This course is great to guide you through the ebb and flow of ancient in Empires of the Mediterranean region. It doesn't end when Alexander dies but continues to speak on the Roman Empire as well. The Professor may incorrectly pronounce a few words here and there, but perhaps his education has taught him differently, and I am the one who is incorrect. I enjoyed this course and found it to be a great stepping stone as I continue learning about history, and now target each individual history of the Empires spoken of in this course.

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Course Guidebook IS available with download

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Robert L. Dise Jr.?

I don't know if Joshua's comment (link below) regarding no support from the publisher prompted the inclusion of the written course guidebook, but it was available as a PDF when I just purchased this lecture series. <br/><br/>http://www.audible.com/listener/Joshua/A104MNV17JU4OX?ref_=a_pd_Histor_c9_1_6_rwTtl&asin=B00DJUK5J4<br/><br/> I will update this review once I listen.

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Boring--

I just couldn't finish this course. I made it through the first 4 chapters but I could go no further. Let me be up front that it was not the material but the presenter. He seemed bored by his own material. His presentation was monotone and just had no life to it. If I was in his classroom course, I would have to sit in the back. I would sit in the back so I hopefully wouldn't be noticed when I dropped off to sleep.

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  • Joshua
  • VALLEJO, CA, United States
  • 08-11-13

No customer support from the publisher

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Robert L. Dise Jr.?

No

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The publisher could have offered the supplemental reading material for a proportional price (they want $10+ to get the course outline. I paid ~$11 for the credit which bought the entire course). Does doubling the price seem reasonable for an outline, an outline that can be made into a simple PDF and emailed with little to no additional actual cost to the publisher?This is not an issue with Modern Scholar courses.

How could the performance have been better?

I don't think the professor looked at this course as if it was for an audio audience; it seemed he was trying to give regular classroom lectures without any visual keys. Lecturing to an audiobook-only audience is a distinct skill from lecturing to a group of people live.

Any additional comments?

Avoid buying courses from this publisher until they update their policy on supplemental materials. Suggest Modern Scholar courses if appropriate.

2 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 10-29-14

Interesting Material but Mediocre Delivery

This lecture course covers a large number of ancient empires, leading up to (but not including) Greece and Rome. For more details about content, I strongly recommend looking at the Great Courses web site which includes titles of each lecture (and lots of reviews). I knew very little about Ancient History and this course provided a really good introduction -- relatively brief on each empire, but a good overview. However the course had two main problems from my perspective. One is that the material is very much slanted towards military history -- lots of detail about armour, chariot types etc, while the cultures are treated rather sparsely. This would suit some people but wasn't ideal for me. The biggest problem though is that the lecturer is rather boring. He does not put any personality into the material -- he sounds as if he is just reading written notes and sometimes he sounds rather bored by the whole thing. Overall I'm glad to have listened to this but I had to force myself to keep going at several points.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr Nik Jewell
  • 02-10-17

Like Listening to Kevin Costner on Tranquillisers

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, it was worthwhile, though I got more from reading the notes alongside my Penguin Atlas of Ancient Civilisations.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I have a soft spot for the Persian rulers, given such a hard time by Herodotus.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Robert L. Dise Jr.’s performances?

If the course contained information that I wanted to know about then yes; however, this is by far the worst oral performance I have yet encountered on Audible. 18 hours of droning monotone. Really pretty painful.

Do you think Ancient Empires before Alexander needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

If it does I would rather it was read/presented by somebody else!

Any additional comments?

Good and interesting material but only just about bearable to listen to.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 09-19-15

Must Try Harder

Has Ancient Empires before Alexander put you off other books in this genre?

It could have if it had been the first "Great Courses" book I listened to

What aspect of Professor Robert L. Dise Jr.’s performance might you have changed?

There are parts of this course where he just sounds bored

Was Ancient Empires before Alexander worth the listening time?

Just about

Any additional comments?

"Professor" Robert L. Dise doesn't sound like a professor. He lacks impartiality on the various peoples. He uses racial epithets when describing some cultures: <br/>For example he compares the ancient Greeks to a bunch of "Drunken Rednecks" and condemns them for daring to resist the Persian invasion.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Clare
  • 02-22-16

Lecturer isn't as clever as he thinks he is

Any additional comments?

I thought I would give the Great Courses another go. Once again the lecturer chosen seems an odd choice, This is a series of lectures on Empires before Alexander so they choose someone whose specialty is the Roman Empire! Why? Surely it should be someone who specialised in the earlier Empires.There are some superficially irritating things, why does each lecture end with some canned applause & some music thousands of years too late? Also the title should have been Empires of Europe, Near & Middle East before Alexander as no mention is made of any empires in China, India or Africa outside of Egypt etc. I don't mind the focus but I mind that it's pretending it's not there.Sadly the lecturer also feels the need to make factious comments every now & then which I imagine is supposed to make the lecture more engaging but actually is just irritating.However, despite this I have managed to persevere & have found it interesting enough to continue. However, niggles of doubt do creep in. The lecturer doesn't appear to know much about archery as he confuses compound & composite & fails to mention recurve when it was relevant. How much else, that I know less about, is similar?All in all Modern Scholar remains superior

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Ibrahim955
  • 02-05-16

Very good book

What did you like best about this story?

The best thing about this history is the linking between the events and the explanation of why such events happened

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

There were few events that made me feel as if I am living with the historical characters especially with the Persian empire

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 07-11-17

hard to follow. bit all over the place

why 15 words? seems a bit silly to me.
why 15 words? seems a bit silly to me.