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Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World

Narrated by: W. Bernard Carlson
Length: 17 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)
Regular price: $41.95
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Publisher's Summary

We’re surrounded by inventions. Clocks, appliances, cars, televisions, cell phones...the list goes on and on. Where did all these inventions come from? How do they work? And how do they reflect - even define - the values of our culture?

Now, you can learn the remarkable stories surrounding monumental inventions - and how consequential these inventions were to history. Taught by Professor W. Bernard Carlson of the University of Virginia, who is an expert on the role of innovation in history, these 36 enlightening lectures give you a broad survey of material history, from the ancient pottery wheel to the Internet and social media. Along with recounting the famous inventions you might expect, such as the steam engine, the airplane, and the atomic bomb, this course explores a number of surprising innovations, including beer, pagodas, and the operating room.

From ancient China to 21st-century America, from the English coal mines to the high-tech companies of Silicon Valley, this course takes you around the world and across the ages to introduce you to some of the most innovative moments in human civilization. This unique approach to history will boost your technology literacy and give you a completely new appreciation for the everyday objects around you.

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

©2013 The Great Courses (P)2013 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Great content but poor editing on the delivery

So many places he stutters or slurs the words... This made it very hard to listen to. The content is top notch so I persevered, but, it was very annoying to listen to an audiobook that is not 'edited'. Also, this is the audio from a 'visual lecture', so there are parts where he visually demonstrates something that you of course cannot see.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ambitious course and needs more work

I have great interest in history of science/innovation and avid reader. Covering such a broad range of topics in 17.5 hr is a huge challenge, which left the instructor no choice but being selective.
I have technical expertise in a very narrow field, which is covered in a few lectures in the last 1/3 of the course. I found his technical description of some of science/technology (around those topics) quite inaccurate, which could be misleading for those not familiar with those technologies.
Also, noticed that a few data and factoid were incorrect.
Combination of inaccuracies and wrong data adversely impacted my trust for the rest of materials. I will not quote anything from this course, unless it is verified by independent/trusted sources.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great content, but needs visuals and is full of distracting narrator mistakes

Overall, this is a very engaging and interesting journey through history. However there are some major flaws that diminish the experience. First, you can tell that this series of lectures was intended to be viewed, not just heard. There are several occasions where the narrator refers to diagrams and images that he is showing the audience. Video would be a better medium. Even without visuals, the content is still largely accessible and easily understandable. The main reason why I rated this audiobook only three stars is because of the performance of the narrator. He constantly trips all over his words and struggles vocalize his lecture. It is very distracting and frustrating to listen to. Honestly, I would probably do the same thing if I was in his shoes, but that's why I don't narrate audiobooks.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Exciting stories. Bad editing.

The stories told by the narrator are engaging and lively, they cover inventions in a unique and rewarding manner.
As many others have stated, as an audiobook, this recording is very difficult to listen to. The narrator frequently refers to props and charts, which are of no use to a listener. The narrator also struggles at times in the recording of this audiobook, which makes it is difficult to follow along.
Recommend Audible or Great Courses go back and edit this recording.

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fascinating book but...

I feel at a disadvantage because I could not see the inventions that the author demonstrated nor the diagrams that he referenced. However, I think this is a well-written very interesting book and worth the inconveniences.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting subjects, arid delivery

The events are worth listening to. This is not an intellectual presentation. The professor has an extremely dry delivery.

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  • Peter
  • 01-16-19

Not an audiobook

This is the audio track to a visual lecture. It is littered with reference to pictures and items being shown, but are not reflected in the accompanying material. Nevertheless it does a decent job of explaining a number of important inventions and their place in history and society.
PS: author should get his history straight though: ‘WW1 was fought between Britain and Germany’. Really?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Duncan
  • 01-18-19

Interesting Content - Sub standard narration

I found the content of interest, the narration in my opinion was poor, lots of mistakes and re-starting of sentences. The American accent does not work for me either.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful