War and World History

Narrated by: Jonathan P. Roth
Length: 25 hrs and 1 min
Categories: History, Military
4.4 out of 5 stars (303 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This fresh and challenging inquiry into human societies takes a deep look at the effects and roles of war. As the most complex of all human endeavors, warfare - from ancient to modern - has spurred the growth of essential new technologies; demanded the adoption of complex economic systems; shaped the ideology and culture of nations; promoted developments in art and literature; and spread faith across the globe.

Over the course of 48 highly provocative lectures, Professor Roth explores armed conflict across five continents. Far from a traditional approach to military events, this panoramic series is not the history of battles or military campaigns, but the story of the intimate interconnections of war with human cultures and societies and how these connections have shaped history.

You'll study the complex effects of culture, economics, politics, and religion on war - and war's influences on them. In this context, you chart the colorful history of the practice and methodology of warfare. Among many other things, you'll learn about

  • the development and evolution of history-making military weapons such as bows, horses, swords, and gunpowder;
  • the interface of warfare with religion, which has bred some of the most unusual and poignant conflicts in history;
  • the 17th-century European nation-state, where militaries were "nationalized" into central governments and military service was imbued with ideology of citizenship and loyalty to state;
  • the crucial military underpinnings of nationalism, Communism, Fascism, and other political movements from the modern era.

Probe these pivotal and revealing features of history and deepen your understanding of our extraordinary, evolving world.

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

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses

What listeners say about War and World History

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War & Its Interactions with History & Civilization

If you could sum up War and World History in three words, what would they be?

War in Context

What did you like best about this story?

Not only does Professor Roth discuss all aspects of warfare from the stone age to the present, including technology, tactics, strategies, training, organization, major historical figures and major events and trends, he also illuminates how war has affected the rest of society and how the rest of society has affected war. Here are just a few examples:

He discusses the adoption of iron not just from a weapons effectiveness point of view, but also from an economic point of view, which was at least as important, if not more so.

He discusses how banking grew out, to a great degree, of the need of European monarchs to finance wars which had become far more expensive due to advances in technologies such as gunpowder.

He discusses how ideology influenced both the successes and failures of Nazi Germany.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The only real negative of the book was the strange emmmphaasisss that Professor Roth often employed, drawing out sooomme words and enunciating otheeerrsss LOUDLY.

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

Opened my eyes to the full range of factors involved in warfare through the ages. Of special note were the extremely long times it took certain technologies to be properly utilized. For example, when cannons were first placed on ships, they were positioned in the bow in place of a ram, instead of along the side where firepower could be concentrated in a broadside on the opposing ship.

11 people found this helpful

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World History > War

This course seems more like a survey of World History than the title would suggest. I found the lack of detail regarding both Military and World history often left me wanting more. Given the scope of the course - from the dawn of mankind to the present - I guess this isn't surprising. I stuck it out to the end, but I was more than ready to be done with it.

8 people found this helpful

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A Sweeping Panorama of War and History

As a student of world and military history, this outstanding series answered a lot of questions. Dr. Roth brings to light the not-so-obvious effect that war has on all of us: on our culture (men’s ties and jazz music), on our artifacts (jet travel and microwave ovens) and our psyche (the romanticization of war in the 19th century and its current rejection). I was very moved, especially by the last chapter, in which Dr. Roth reveals the brutal killing of his correspondent friend in Afghanistan and its effect on him: to study war in order to end it. God bless you Dr. Roth in your mission.

1 person found this helpful

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An essential history of war as a human condition

This series of lectures is an unapologetic look at warfare as a human condition which explores the ways it developed technologies from the stone age up to the 2000's and how it influenced, and was influenced by, economic, political, social and religious factors.

7 people found this helpful

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Confusing layout

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Only if they are very interested in war and history

What did you like best about this story?

This book had great information, I felt that I learned a lot.

Any additional comments?

Not put in chronological order, maybe this is why I was often confused about when, what, and whom he was talking about. The lecture was hard for me to follow.

7 people found this helpful

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The best Teaching Company lecture!

What about Professor Jonathan P. Roth’s performance did you like?

I've listened to easily about 50 or so lecture series from The Teaching Company and Great Courses and so far this one is my favorite! I've listened to lectures which have covered some of the same topics that he covers, such as early human history, and yet he brings many new details to them that I had not heard elsewhere and is very good at making things interesting.

I would even recommend this to people who aren't as into military history as I am. I think many historians now downplay war as a factor in history to focus more on social change, but this is a mistake as looking at how war has evolved along with human civilization leads to some very fascinating insights on how both have evolved together. For instance, most historians tend to simply accept as a given that iron working was a revolutionary technology, but Roth actually goes into detail about the pros and cons of switching from bronze to iron and why some civilizations, such as the Egyptians, waited for hundreds of years to adopt it.

6 people found this helpful

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He should listen to some of the other courses.

First, terrible speaker. His voice ranges from very quiet to very loud. He says "uh" a lot, and seems to forget what he's talking about. Second, he drones on and on about irrelevant, trivial facts at the expense of the bigger picture. Third, he may be a university professor, but he doesn't know his facts. His account of early Islam is alarmingly inaccurate, and elementary. There's a Great Course about Islamic history that attempts to tell the story from a neutral view and does a fair job. This author, however, referenced an incident in early Islamic history of which the only source is laughable at best, having had been written several centuries after the event in question. I don't expect Western historians in the modern era to be entirely accurate or fair when telling Eastern history, especially Islamic history, but that wasn't worthy of a Great Course lecture.

8 people found this helpful

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Interesting But Not My Favorite Organization

Overall, this is an interesting course and worth the time to listen. However, it was not may favorite from an organizational standpoint. The course is very broad and jumps around a little too much for my personal tastes. The professor does a good job overall tackling the topics even if it is a little jumpy from a topical perspective. I recommend it, but the listener should expect broad overviews rather than too much in the way of specifics.

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Excellent overview

A lot of historians and social scientists mostly ignorant about how war. This series of lectures does a wonderful job in presenting the history of war and how war has interacted with economics and culture to form our modern world.

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Think. Then speak.

Could not finish. Far too many "uhhh's and ummm's" to stay interested. It's far too distracting.

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  • Kazi
  • 12-17-14

Intriguing research into military history

Where does War and World History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Really enjoyed this, especially towards the 20th century era to modern times it really picks up.

What about Professor Jonathan P. Roth’s performance did you like?

All round great performance.

Any additional comments?

A chapter or two a day is the way!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 01-11-17

epic

This is gonna be one of my favourite reference books,so much info,I enjoyed every minute.

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  • Niko H.
  • 05-17-15

Great, nay, epic lecture!

This is one of the most interesting and engaging lectures I've listened to from this series. Such a passionate lecturer, articulate, knowledgeable and engaging. Very well thought out and presented perfectly.

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  • Adam
  • 09-27-18

excellent wide ranging lecture series

very well put together series of lecturers. a critical examination of war as a cultural, social and economic phenomenon. two small criticisms: it was a bit brief discussing the developments of the industrial revolution- we had a whole lecture discussing chariots and, later, the same amount of time discussing all the military innovations that occurred during the industrial revolution and probably missed a bit of detail. secondly, the lecturer often has an odd rising tone at the end of his sentences which got a bit annoying at times.

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  • J
  • 07-28-16

Unexciting

Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Jonathan P. Roth?

Not a good performance, the narrator seemed lethargic, his accents troubled me at times. He seemed to be disinterested in the subject matter. The coverage was great, but the presentation could have been made more interesting.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from War and World History?

I would shorten the part on early history, most of which was mere speculation.