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Publisher's Summary

No understanding of the past is complete without an understanding of the legal battles and struggles that have done so much to shape it. Inside a survey of world history's greatest trials are the key insights to critical issues we still talk about today, including freedom of speech, the death penalty, religious freedom, and the meaning of equality.

Join Professor Linder for these 24 lectures that investigate important legal cases from around the world and across the centuries. From the trials of Socrates in ancient Athens and Thomas More in Henry VIII's England to the Nuremburg Trials in the wake of World War II and the media frenzy of the O. J. Simpson murder case, you'll discover what each of these trials has to teach us about ourselves and our civilization.

Professor Linder takes you back in time to revisit some of history's most famous trials from fresh perspectives that ground them in the evolution of human ideas of law and justice, including the Salem Witch Trials, and the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. You'll also encounter less familiar (but equally important) legal battles, including medieval trials by ordeal and the Trial of Giordano Bruno, which would impact the later trial of Galileo.

For years, Professor Linder has studied the fascinating intersection between history and jurisprudence. Now he's crafted these lectures to share that fascination with you.

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

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2017 The Great Courses (P)2017 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Good intro to a range of famous court cases

One of the great things about the Great Courses series is that they can give the listener a 101 level introduction to a new (or renewed, for courses forgotten decades ago) area of study. I am a dedicated listener (and in some cases, watcher) of Teaching Co. courses of this kind. Of course, a 101 level course that is completed in only, say 12 hours, can also seem somewhat superficial, since a true 101 course on the same topic in freshman year of college has lots more hours as well as lots of reading materials the college freshman must read if he or she hopes to get a good grade. The Teaching Co tries hard to achieve a balance between their own 101 by bridging toward the college 101, without getting all the way there.

I found this course to be closer to the superficial 101, which means I hungered for more information about the cases about which I knew little or nothing (mostly the in the first half of the course) while I came away slightly dissatisfied with those about which I already knew a good deal (mostly in the last 1/4 of the course). I still give it 4 stars overall, it has already driven me looking for more material on the few cases about which I knew nothing, so I can make my own bridge in the direction of the freshman 101. In that sense, this course and this professor has accomplished the key objectives of Teaching Co courses -- giving me a broad understanding of this topic and making me thirsty for more information on particular lectures.

The lecturer is quite entertaining, and brings in plenty of ancillary information to give the listener context about the case itself. Each lecture is structured in such a way that the entire 30 minutes is not dominated by the trial itself, but gives background on the times, the "crime," the players, and where appropriate, the consequences of the event.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting material, but . . .

The material covered in this course is undoubtedly interesting, and the lectures improve as the series progresses. But given Professor Linder's credentials and accomplishments, I had hoped for more analysis and scholarship. Instead, we get straight-up story telling, often delivered from the cinematic perspective of an omniscient narrator. This makes for light, entertaining listening, but the legal and historical significance of each trial are only touched upon briefly, if at all.

Professor Linder's reading of his script is also distracting. He is likeable and has a pleasant enough voice, but each lecture is marred by a dozen or more slip ups and mispronunciations. The overall impression is of a cold reading captured in one take and presented unedited. Great Courses lecturers are usually much more polished.

Despite these reservations, I listened to this course in its entirety and enjoyed much of what I heard. I appreciated the Professor's knowledgeable rehearsal of the details of each case, but was frustrated that he never went deeper. As mentioned above, I had hoped for a course exploring the legal, moral and social issues raised by these trials.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good snapshots of society at the time and place

Interesting history of social environments at each time of the trials. Selection of cases was good and impact analysis good discussion starters.

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

Interesting overview

The lectures provide an interesting overview of some famous trials. The audio quality is slightly poor compounded with a tendency by the speaker to clip the last words of his sentences. There are occasions when I could not figure out what he was saying which is very frustrating.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved the whole book! Incredible historical cases

I couldn't stop listening. I hadn't heard about most of the cases so very educational

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but limited.

This was an interesting lecture with two caveats:

1. In the newer trials it is incredibly US centric.
2. For some reason Audible or the Great Courses decides to bleep our “bad words” when they were cited.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great General Overview

A very entertaining listen covering a major court cases. This is clearly meant to be an introduction to the subject, so lectures are composed more of dramatic summaries of the title, and less on scholarly subjects surrounding them. Absolutely wonderful listen for the layperson I would say

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

24 little slices of history seen from jury box

Interesting selection of great trials through the millennia. The lecturer is pleasant to listen to. He has a bias in favor of the defendants, but it is not disabling.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike Davis
  • COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States
  • 04-13-18

Love the variety

Would you consider the audio edition of The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us to be better than the print version?

Just listened to this but wouldn’t pick up a book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Thomas Moore

Have you listened to any of Professor Douglas O. Linder JD’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

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

Listening to how Thomas Moore held to his beliefs in the face of the outcome he faced.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating material, well developed.

Great subject, great presentation. I think the Salem Witch trials would be nice to include.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dan H
  • 02-17-18

Excellent, but title a little misleading

I found this hugely enjoyable - hence still offering four stars. Where many of the historical lecture series from the great courses concatenate as a single thematic narrative, one to the next, each lecture here is a self-contained story, insightfully told. My one and only gripe is how few of these trials take place outside of America. Sure, we begin with Socrates, and there's Bruno and Nuremburg, but one feels these are included only to warrant the title. The vast majority of these trials are American, and I suppose I was hoping to hear something of a more mixed, international flavour. Highly recommended nevertheless. Interesting, informative, and even shocking in places.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful