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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

Spain has played a unique and essential role in Western civilization. To understand the unfolding of Spain's epic history is to come to terms with one of the West's great cultures, and to grasp its enduring presence and impact on the world stage.

In these 24 accessible lectures, Professor Salisbury presents a broad and enthralling panorama of Spanish history, covering the centuries from the first prehistoric settlement of the peninsula to Spain's 20th-century civil war.

Linking one seminal era with the next, the course begins with how early Spain drew a range of peoples from ancient Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, who formed vibrant communities on the peninsula. From there, you'll witness the rule of the peninsula by both Rome and Visigothic peoples, leading to the spellbinding drama of Islamic Spain and the Reconquista, Catholic Spain and the Inquisition, and the opening of the New World. Finally, you'll travel into the kingly dynasties and the dazzling artistic heritage of the Habsburgs and Bourbons, and you'll track Spain's emergence into the modern world.

Together with the unfolding of Spanish history, Professor Salisbury illuminates Spain's iconic cultural forms - such as flamenco music and dance, and the ritual of bullfighting - and its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, theology, and learning.

Across the centuries, you'll explore jewels of Spanish architecture, from the resplendent Moorish Alhambra and Alcázar of Seville to the sublime Sagrada Familia cathedral of modernist Antoni Gaudí. And you'll encounter Spain's geniuses of the visual and written arts, including such masters as the painters Velasquez, el Greco, Goya, and Picasso, and writers from the philosophers Averroes and Maimonides to literary greats Lope de Vega and Cervantes.

Travel with us to this remarkable culture, and savor the beauty and the great human drama of the history of Spain.

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Excellent

I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series and learned a lot. It has inspired me not only to visit the Iberian Peninsula, but to delve into the histories of other nations as well.
I enjoyed Prof. Salisbury's presentation and the overall presentation in general.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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As much travelogue as history

Prof Salisbury starts her first lecture acknowledging her love for Spain and Spanish culture, which is fair enough, perhaps even to be expected. She follows through with a parade of colorful highlights, a 12-hour whirlwind from Phoencians to Franco.

Often she gets a little carried away. Spain's is not all that fertile a soil, for example, nor do I think she really believes it's difficult to think of an architect on par with Gaudi. This kind of cheer-leading, paired to a brisk, skimming pace, can gives the lectures more of a feel of travelogue or a pre-collegiate world cultures course than of collegiate level history. Good news for casual listeners, bad news for history buffs in search of some meaty analysis. As a history buff, I was disappointed, but recognize that this kind of enthusiasm can go a long way to holding the interest of someone who typically finds lectures dry and awful.

Sometimes, however, she takes the adoration too far, charitably understating the more... problematic aspects of topics like colonialism, bullfighting, slavery, guerillas, and the Spanish Inquisition. She prefers celebrating reform to identifying the problems needing reform. Bring a healthy dose of cynicism to your listening.

Full marks for Salisbury's speaking voice, which I could follow even in a noisy work environment, and for an unusually low incidence of verbal tics.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best Great Courses Yet

I have listened to about 20+ great courses, and this one has absolutely been my favorite. The professor has a contagious enthusiasm for the subject matter, clear and consise speaking style, and organizes the material in a way that is engaging and helps bring the lectures to life. I never once "spaced out," and found myself looking forward to the next commute. I am now hoping to travel to Spain to experience some of its rich history and culture and hope the professor will have other Great Courses soon! Thanks!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good

I was expecting a bit more in depth about history. Was mostly a broad view. It did cover some elements of culture which I found very interesting

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Far more than just a history of Spain

I was really surprised just how much I got out of the Great Course. Not only is it a really good survey course of Spanish History, but the Professor Salisbury covers a wide variety of material that, while was a part of Spanish History, impacts upon other parts of World as well.

Definitely worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Eagle's View of Spain's and Europe's history

Great lectures to our usual stereotypes and bits of knowledge about our country in perspective.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A fabulous presentation about a fascinating land.

Before listening to this course, I never realized the Importance of Spain to the thread of history running from the ancient Roman Empire through the evolution of Europe to the wider world of today. It has put together many pieces of information into a coherent whole for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good Overall Despite Some Mistakes and Bias

Provides good overview spanning politics, religion, culture, arts, and more.
Smong of the shortcomings that one may observe are the following:
1. Some historical events are not presented accurately. For example, the author stated that the Fatimis established their state in Egypt and then expanded westward into western north Africa while they in fact established themselves in Morocco and then moved much later into Egypt. It appears to me that this is attributed to ignoring Arabic reference materials which are very essential for studying the history of Spain and North Africa.
2. While Spanish history is always linked to the famous bloody Inquisition, especially for Muslims, the author opted to skim lightly through it. In fact, her short highlight of the subject is almost limited to the treatment of the Jews.

  • Overall

It's a pleasure to hear!

My recommendation for all the lovers of the Spanish history. Undoubtedly, Joyce passion for Spain is manifested is this audio program.

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  • Phebe
  • Joppa, MD, United States
  • 11-23-17

History of Spain tilted left

I didn't like it. It wasn't awful, but the lectures are annoyingly tilted left politically, and the lecturer's voice is strident. She prefers whatever outgroup wandered into or around Spain, stealing everything they could, like the gypsies (still a big problem after centuries) and the Muslims (still a big problem despite the Reconquista in the 1490s). The normal decent citizens trying to make a living are just background. This is the standard leftist tilt, and since I am particularly interested in the 1930s Spanish Civil War, because of the possibilities for something similar to happen in the U.S., I didn't much like her blaming the generals for everything and cheering on the communists, despite their ever-escalating calls to eliminate everyone in the middle class and higher social groups. And that well before the war started. When I noticed she calls all the leftist groups "intellectuals" I realized what was going on, as it's a common modern ploy.

Politics aside, she covers a lot of Spanish history, from prehistory on through the Romans, the conquest of the New World, and art (considerable contribution there by Spain). The tactic is to inform us what was going on generally, such as the rise of Islam, and then bring it back to Spain, which works. If you are leftist, you might like it as a quick and dirty introduction to Spanish history. Spain is a very interesting country. It used to be quite important.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean luke
  • 10-01-17

Inspiring

She is as marvelous a narator as she is an author and combined you are in for a treat.

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  • Tristan Fisher
  • 09-14-17

A fascinating insight into Spain

The series is a fascinating insight into Spanish history, discussing the events, the culture and the arts of Spanish history.

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  • Zenouf the Birdcatcher
  • 09-07-17

An enthusiasm shared,<br />

As an extramural resident for many years, I approached this course with some trepidation given perceived American attitudes towards Islam and Communism. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and centeredness of the lectures. The carefully told story of the second Republic and the subsequent decades of Franco was well done given the complexity and the polar opinions these issues still maintain. I would warmly recommended this course to anyone interested in this remarkable country.