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Publisher's Summary

History is made and defined by landmark events - moments that irrevocably changed the course of human civilization. They have given us

  • spiritual and political ideas;
  • catastrophic battles and wars;
  • scientific and technological advances;
  • world leaders both influential and monstrous; and
  • cultural works of unparalleled beauty.

Now a series of 36 captivating lectures explores some of the most important and definitive events in the history of the world - events after which our world would never be the same.

Taught by a remarkably gifted teacher with more than 25 teaching awards to his credit, these lectures form an intriguing and engaging tour of thousands of years of human history, from the creation of the Code of Hammurabi to the Battle of Lexington to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and beyond. It's a chance for you to gain new insights about world history from a truly riveting historian.

Using his expert knowledge and impressive ability to draw out invaluable lessons from the past, Professor Fears has chosen the events he discusses based on three criteria: how the event in itself fundamentally changed history, how the aftermath of the event changed history, and how the event and its impact still resonate with us today.

The result is a comprehensive and authoritative selection of subjects, each of which played a crucial role in transforming human civilization. Whether the event is an obvious or not-so-obvious choice, Professor Fears takes great care to tie each to the 21st century, pointing out just how influential these and other moments were in shaping who we are and how we live.

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

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

The world was never the same:Events that changed history.

Professor J. Rufus Fears was one of the best lecturers I have ever heard. He is remarkably candid and always gets the point across. He makes studies very easy to comprehend with a sense of humor. A fantastic professor!!!!!

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Disappointing; very religion-centric

I found this book very disappointing. There was little history, and that was well salted by myths, fables, and speculation presented as fact. Large sections of the first three hours were simply credulous readings out of the bible, or Torah, recounted as if they were uncontested histories. If I had known this was a "history of the world as told by important events in religious books" I would never have purchased it. First great course I have not finished. I honestly wanted my money back.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dianne
  • Cape May, NJ, United States
  • 04-09-16

Captivating history

I would have loved to have a professor like Professor Fears when I was in college. If I had, I might have decided to change my major to history. He brings to life with great reality, color, and sometimes humor, 36 events and people who impacted world history forever. I have listened with enjoyment and new insight to his lectures several times, and they will be a permanent audible on my iPod.

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Serious errors of fact

Robert E. Lee did own slaves and property in Virginia. Arlington plantation, in fact. Christopher Columbus did not discover a new world. There were people here before him, including some Europeans. Also, if I choose a history title, I do not want to be preached to about any religion. Not recommended.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Untrustworthy

What disappointed you about The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History?

As a cheerleader for the Great Courses, it pains me to say: Stay Away!

Announcing that there is nothing implausible about the stories of Abraham and Joseph, and a pointed refusal to question even the literal parting of the Red Sea, should be a huge red flag. Professor Fears goes on to tell us that Sparta was a democracy, that Caessar didn't want power for ambition's sake but only to serve Rome better, and that Robert E. Lee owned no slaves. Neglecting to add that this last is true only by the hairsplitting legality of the slaves belonging to Mary Custis amounts to deliberate deception.

Alongside such whoppers, Fears offers a lot of half-truth, mixing imaginary scenario with fact or conspicuously ignoring pivotal elements. One typical example: in seeking causes for the Wall Street crashes of 1929 and 2008, he delivers a lengthy and fictive tale of a consumer buying irresponsibly on credit. Banking deregulation gets mentioned only once, in passing, without elaboration. Monetary policy, regulatory capture, and corporate malfeasance aren't even mentioned, much less fairly examined. Nope, the market collapse was caused by small consumers buying too much, end of story.

Sermonizing asides push a mix of American exceptionalism, biblical literalism, and Horatio Alger bromides. This is not history; it is ideology culling history (and historical myth, when necessary) for validation.

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Excellent and insightful

What made the experience of listening to The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History the most enjoyable?

The professor was engaging, dynamic and made interesting points. He described the downline implications well and plausibly as well as situating the occurrences among the contemporary history.

What other book might you compare The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History to and why?

What if? just because it describes pivotal moments in history that had far reaching impact.

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

No, but I would listen to him in a heartbeat.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Fort Wayne, IN, United States
  • 10-17-13

Informative

Would you consider the audio edition of The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History to be better than the print version?

Haven't seem the print version.

What did you like best about this story?

The speaker was very knowledgeable. Did not get stuck on any one era, except too much emphasis on modern America. Disagree with some of his choices, Michelangelo can not have the same impact on history that the invention of: railroads, steam engines, corporations, radio, television, or the internet.

What about Professor J. Rufus Fears’s performance did you like?

Very passionate.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • AUSTIN, TX, United States
  • 09-28-13

*not actually history

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor J. Rufus Fears?

No

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s performances?

No

What character would you cut from The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History?

The bible stories

Any additional comments?

I was pretty disappointed to hear Prof. Fears telling the story of the Jews in Egypt and the first Passover as if these were historical events; they're not. I thought I was getting a serious history course, not a sermon or a course on myth and legend. If you're looking for a serious course presented with academic rigor, this isn't it. I'd like to get my credit back, honestly.

14 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant if a bit US centric

I loved it. Fears brings heart and humanity to history and reminds us all that we are speaking about events populated by real people with real motivations. I hoped for more events outside of the traditional western view, but overall the content is great.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extremely annoying presentation

The events covered are fascinating, but unfortunately the presentation is slow, shrill and irritating. I couldn't finish this course.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful