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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World Lecture

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

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Publisher's Summary

Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

The past truly comes alive as you take a series of imaginative leaps into the world of history's anonymous citizens, people such as a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx; an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with her husband; a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates; a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion.

Put yourself in the sandals of ordinary people and discover what it was like to be among history's 99%. What did these everyday people do for a living? What was their home like? What did they eat? What did they wear? What did they do to relax? What were their beliefs about marriage? Religion? The afterlife?

This extraordinary journey takes you across space and time in an effort to be another person - someone with whom you might not think you have anything at all in common - and come away with an incredible sense of interconnectedness. You'll see the range of possibilities of what it means to be human, making this a journey very much worth taking.

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

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Susan K Treiman new york city 08-04-13
    Susan K Treiman new york city 08-04-13

    streiman

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best approach to history"

    Really enjoyed hearing the history of civilization as witnessed by the ordinary person of each period. The subject matter is fascinating, the lectures are well-written and impeccably researched and the delivery is fine - if not perfect. I would have listened around the clock if I hadn't had the inconvenient interruptions of life and work.

    This is recommended reading/listening for any dedicated history buff! I've already suggested 'The Other Side' to many friends...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 03-29-15
    Jennifer 03-29-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Wasn't as thrilled as prof; warning- he lisps "s""

    I didn't love this course. Some parts were good, and I learned a *couple* of new things, but overall it seemed slow and not unfamiliar. It was a good premise, to explore history from the perspective of your average ancient Greek craftsman, Roman wife, or medieval nun, but I found much of it intuitive and even redundant. Professor Gardner was clearly enthused and enthralled by his topics, and loved telling his story in a first or second person as if actually in ancient Egypt touring Alexandria, or watching a chariot race... But I was not as invested.

    I would have been interested to hear a bit more, in fact, on some of the periods and peoples which he covered quickly - Babylon, Persia, pre-Roman Britain... And what about the folks not in the greater European region during those times? He mentions the Saracens in the crusades lecture, but we get very little on them and the Arabic culture that's been developing while we were preoccupied with the Battle of Hastings... Not to mention the other folks beyond the Western World... I understand that he could elaborate more and greater varieties of folks when there was more info from archaeology to give evidence, but I think his discussions of the lives of women and slaves, of the poor and infirm, were all so similar that they might have been combined somehow.

    Even when it wasn't redundant feeling, I felt familiar with a lot of the material already. I think I got 98% of what he discusses on Egypt from the Great Course devoted to Ancient Egypt. And I felt like little was new in Greece and Rome - though perhaps I just had a good high school history teacher. And I did have the advantage too of having traveled to many of the Hellenistic sites mentioned on a school sponsored trip - so having been to Olympia, Epidurous, Athens, and Delphi, I was familiar with those stories if the healers, the games, the temples, and the oracles, etc. On that trip too, we visited Rome and Pompeii, so I have imagined the Gladiators, the forum, the baths, etc. so not much was new to me in that era of topics either. Actually, some of the only unfamiliar material was in his more detailed discussions of the death practices. I took a class too, during my study abroad in Scotland, on the Celts and wrote papers on Boudicca and Roman architecture in Britain, so nothing new to speak of from those lectures. Most of what he discussed in the Medieval section I knew from having read the really great historical fiction Katherine by Anya Seaton - that book had everything from Chaucer himself and the royal court, knights, the peasants, the plague, the castles, the heretics, and more...

    I did like that he put being a knight and a crusader into better perspective, that is so very romanticized generally. The penultimate lecture on relaxing - sports and music etc was good too.

    Basically, I have reaffirmed that I would not have wanted to live in any of those times or places. If I had, I'd have likely been abused if I lived past childhood at all, and would have likely have died in childbirth by now, and if not, I still can't expect to live more than another ten years and will likely do so in poverty. And thank goodness for modern medicine!

    Oh, and I can't forget to mention this cause it bugged me the whole 24+ hours : Prof Garland is a good lecturer and really into his stuff, but his lisp drove me nuts. He sounds completely normal, even stereotypical British classicist -until he pronounces the letter "s"... Having studied some articulatory phonetics, I think I can say fairly that his sibilants were overly lateralized, creating a big messy "shh" sound amidst otherwise good elocution. I don't mean to hold it against him, but it Drove me nuts. Listen to the sample before buying, in case that's a deal breaker for you.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie Magoo San Francisco 08-15-13
    Maggie Magoo San Francisco 08-15-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Kept me engaged, but wasn't great"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The time didn't drag, but I didn't learn much new, having read many well-researched books about these eras.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    I was expecting richer content, total immersion on other cultures and times, like what's in David Hackett's Albion's Seed. This didn't come close to that.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    For a college professor, his delivery was excellent. Could tell he'd rehearsed, researched, and written about the content extensively.


    Could you see The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No. This is more for background use by film producers and set and clothing designers.


    Any additional comments?

    If I'd paid Colgate's tuition for this course, I would have been shocked. For one thing, I can't imagine how someone could come up with in-depth exam questions from content this light.

    12 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dam Duck 09-04-13
    Dam Duck 09-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable content"
    What would have made The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World better?

    A different reader. I have two issues with Robert Garland's presentation. First, he has a fairly noticeable lisp. I don't think this would bother me if it didn't somehow compound his far bigger shortcoming. He reads one. word. at. a. time. With great emphasis on each word in a way that if I was just learning the language I would love. He doesn't do it in the part that you can hear in the sample and on other occasions he is clearly speaking off the cuff and sounds perfectly fine. The other 90% are very difficult to listen to. If the subject were just slightly less interesting, I could easily delete the whole thing.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Robert Garland’s performances?

    Not even a little.


    10 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc 01-09-15
    Marc 01-09-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great content, diction hard to follow"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    This tour-de-force overview over several hundreds of years of popular views on human history is, content-wise, well selected, easy to follow and gives a great first introduction into what historians believe to be next-to-true about "people like you and me living throughout the times".


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    Since the course only gives a broad overview, a lot (and I mean A LOT) of details are left out, variances in people's life and believes are ignored (and have to be).
    Mr. Garland says his area of expertise isn't the "middle ages" (roughly about 1000 years of enormous changes to the way people lived), on the other hand reliable knowledge about people before that time is very limited, no matter how convinced Mr. Garland may seem to know.
    So the lectures have to be taken with several spoons of salt.

    What bothered me the most was the - sorry for the word - arrogance of a "modern Christian guy" seriously JUDGING the way other people, especially in times long gone, believed or saw the world. Passages like "there couldn't be a more absurd way of believe system" (this aren't his exact words, it is just what I FELT he was saying) about a multi-god-believe-system are absurd themselves, since the very concept of "any god" isn't exactly science. But it isn't just the believe-systems, but also the "state of mind" people were in. The constant comparisons between ancient ways of thinking and modern "we know what is right" attitude made the course hard to follow at times.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Mr. Garland ... separates ... every ......word ......from ......... the ......... next ...(you get the picture, don't you?)
    His intonation stays very alike throughout a lecture. It sounds as if he is more or less reading from a script and, although he sounds excited about what he is saying, the CONSTANT excitement along with the ... separation ... of ... words ... without ... any ... professional ... dramaturgy ... would make me fall asleep if I listened to Mr. Garland in a life lecture at university.

    I converted parts of the audio book to mp3 and used an audio editing software to narrow down the gaps (without speeding up the actual spoken words), which allowed me to follow the content a lot better.Mr. Garlands narration is, unfortunately, a typical "university professor style":
    He knows a lot, he loves his topics, he WANTS to take people part in this and the energy he puts into his efforts to drag students along is overpowering him.Yet: He DOES love his topic and he DOES have a lot to offer. I am very interested in reading his books now and I'd love to chat with him :-)

    My original verdict was "1.5 stars on performance". That would have been unfair, there are, by far, worse narrators present on Audible. Mr. Garland is easy to understand, he does not derail from the topic, he gives a lot of good examples and tries to match limited time to an enormous amount of content.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    On the negative side my most intense reaction was that the constant "judging" of non-Christian believe-systems along with a very, VERY limited distance to the "modern western" religions shocked me*.
    The lack of pointing out a lot of POSITIVE social achievements (that the Christian churches have destroyed by force), especially along the lines of equal rights for men and women, but also regarding the understanding of what a slave is, was sad, it's not as if human society only has improved over the last 2000 years.

    On the positive side Mr. Garland tried hard to make "every day life" as understandable to a modern "next door guy or girl" as possible without getting into too much detail. You do not need ANY knowledge of history to understand what he is talking about (this may be part of my issue here).

    It is the broad picture, the parallels throughout thousands and thousands of years of human history that gives the listener a glimpse of what "history" is about.

    * As an example: Mr. Garland puts Aristoteles, Platon and Sokrates in the same sack, although those three present such fundamental changes in the "image of what a human being is" (including slaves and women). One could easily say that, the closer we get to "modern times", the "worse" (in modern understanding) it got, while nowadays "ethic and moral" are mainly based on the later philosophers (Aristotels in particular), it's exactly those later theories that are racist, sexist and ignorant. But, pointing this out would have contradicted the (unmentioned) theory of the course that "things constantly got BETTER throughout the times" ...


    Any additional comments?

    Did Mr. Garland succeed in making me understand how "the people on the other side of history" thought, lived and changed (meaning those of whom the history books do not tell you)?
    No.
    This course covers too large a time span to really make me UNDERSTAND what a Roman Citizen "ticks" like or what a peasant in 1300 in North-England really believes in.
    Mr. Garland takes it as granted that "there is but ONE GOD" and that believing the Christian way is the "natural order of things". NO, he is not teaching religion here, don't get me wrong! He just assumes that his listeners "know their god".

    Many - seemingly strange - ways of living in the past are very closely related to the respective religion and/or philosophy. Mr. Garland concentrates on describing official practices (such as sacrifices), but did not succeed in making me understand how people could believe one way or another and let this (religious) believe actually govern their whole lives. I _do_ have some grasp of that topic from other courses (real life) and some decades of personal studies, but I still find it very hard to really comprehend.

    To be fair, I can only repeat: It is the span of time this course covers (topic-wise) and the strong simplification owed to that fact that leaves me unsatisfied. 48 lectures seem like a lot, but to really understand the life of someone you just need more than 15-30 minutes of arbitrary examples from every day life.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 08-29-13
    Deep Reader 08-29-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Expected more"

    The lectures start off well, explaining aspects of life to you and explaining how life would be like for you to have been an ancient Egyptian, a Persian, a Greek, a Roman and a Celt, and explains in detail how you'd live your life and what you're likely to believe if you were poor, rich, male, female, a soldier or an outlaw.

    I took a star from Overall and Story because it spends the final 30% of the book covering England and turns the book into a history lesson. It wasn't what I paid for.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    catgirl29 06-22-17
    catgirl29 06-22-17
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    "Disappointed the "Daily Life" Aspect Was Missing"
    Where does The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I haven't listened to many historical or course-type audiobooks but I had to listen to this one at a faster speed, which made it more palatable.


    Would you recommend The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World to your friends? Why or why not?

    My friends are weavers, spinners, and craftsmen. I had hoped to hear more about the food, about the daily life. I feel that the lecturer did include little bits of info where this was concerned but the moments were too brief.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book made me thankful to be a woman in our current era. Only 45 years ago or so, women were only slightly more human than they were in the Middle Ages in the eyes of some men. It did make me a little melancholy for all the women throughout history who probably had very decent and capable minds but suffered the indignities of whatever their husbands, brothers, etc. wanted for and of them. I recognize that this is my judgement, rather than what they might have felt.


    Any additional comments?

    I feel like the title of the book is misleading. The professor spoke so much about ideology and religion that the "daily life" aspect was missed. Of course, I know it was a very large part of life, but I wanted to hear more about how people did things - I wish it had been more thorough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Palday 06-20-17
    Palday 06-20-17 Member Since 2016
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    3
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    "A Peek Inside Daily Life in Ancient Times"
    What did you love best about The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World?

    A very refreshing and in-depth look at the daily struggles of ordinary citizens (and slaves) of ancient history. Kudos to the professor for bringing these utterly fascinating stories that to life.


    Any additional comments?

    My only minor gripe is that like most academic lectures, ancient history is confined to Egypt, Greece, and Rome with the rest of the globe largely left in the dark. However, the professor has such intimate knowledge of these subject matters that it's obvious why he chose to focus on them, and he does an excellent job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liam Desmond Greene 06-15-17 Member Since 2015
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    "excellent "

    well researched and even better presented.
    a pleasure to listen to all the way through, and a joy to imagine.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Cowan 06-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Too much moralizing"

    Although a decent review of daily life in different historical cultures, this course is weakened by the lecturer's frequent moralizing about the sexism, brutality, etc of ancient civilizations. This seems out of place in a course that should be more about trying to understand civilizations on their own terms.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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