The Great Courses: Civilization & Culture

22 books in series
4.5 out of 5 stars 10,700 ratings

The Foundations of Western Civilization Publisher's Summary

What is Western civilization? According to Professor Noble, it is "much more than human and political geography," encompassing myriad forms of political and institutional structures - from monarchies to participatory republics - and its own traditions of political discourse. It involves choices about who gets to participate in any given society and the ways in which societies have resolved the tension between individual self-interest and the common good.

Within this series of 48 lectures, you'll discover the many ways in which Western civilization has addressed those questions, from its first stirrings in the great river valleys of Iraq and Egypt in 3000 B.C to the beginning of the 17th century and the dawn of the modern world. Your learning will cover vast amounts of territory and thousands of years, beginning in the ancient Near East and moving to Greece and then Rome. You'll explore ancient empires, including those of Persia, Alexander the Great, and Rome.

You'll watch as western Europe gradually expands, both physically and culturally. And you'll examine the globalizations of Western civilization with the Portuguese and Spanish voyages of exploration and discovery.

This broad and panoramic series, ripe with the telling detail on which history can turn, will help you pull an enormous sweep of history together into one coherent - though by no means closed - framework as you watch history develop under the influence of such critical factors as ecology and environment, geography, and climate; government and economics; technology; religion; work and leisure; philosophy; literature; art and architecture; and virtues, values, and aesthetics.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses
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    • The Foundations of Western Civilization

    • By: Thomas F. X. Noble, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Thomas F. X. Noble
    • Length: 24 hrs and 54 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 824
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 720
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 718

    What is Western Civilization? According to Professor Noble, it is "much more than human and political geography," encompassing myriad forms of political and institutional structures - from monarchies to participatory republics - and its own traditions of political discourse. It involves choices about who gets to participate in any given society and the ways in which societies have resolved the tension between individual self-interest and the common good.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Highly recommended

    • By Mike Keith on 08-08-16

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World

    • By: Robert Bucholz, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert Bucholz
    • Length: 24 hrs and 38 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 693
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 626
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 623

    Beginning with the Renaissance, the culture of the West exploded. Over the next 600 years, rapid innovations in philosophy, technology, economics, military affairs, and politics allowed what had once been a cultural backwater left by the collapse of the Roman Empire to dominate the world. This comprehensive series of 48 lectures by an award-winning teacher and captivating lecturer will show you how - and why - this extraordinary transformation took place.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • An Excellent Overview

    • By Lee on 12-21-14

    Regular price: $52.95

    • The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History

    • By: J. Rufus Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: J. Rufus Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 402
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 363
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 359

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Fun course but Professor Fears is not for everyone

    • By Quaker on 11-04-13

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity

    • By: David Christian, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David Christian
    • Length: 24 hrs and 25 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,335
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,202
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,202

    How is it possible for the disciplines of cosmology, geology, anthropology, biology, and history to fit together? These 48 lectures answer that question by weaving a single story from accounts of the past developed by a variety of scholarly disciplines. The result is a story stretching from the origins of the universe to the present day and beyond, in which human history is seen as part of the history of our Earth and biosphere, and the Earth's history, in turn, is seen as part of the history of the universe.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • The Big Picture of Big History

    • By John P. Gillespie on 09-01-13

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Peoples and Cultures of the World

    • By: Edward Fischer, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Edward Fischer
    • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 146
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 124
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 122

    As the "science of humanity," anthropology can help us understand virtually anything about ourselves, from our political and economic systems, to why we get married, to how we decide to buy a particular bottle of wine. This 24-lecture course reveals the extraordinary power of anthropology - and its subspecialty, cultural anthropology - as a tool to understand the world's varied human societies, including our own.

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • The world is not only made of tribes

    • By Pedro M on 11-19-14

    Regular price: $34.95

    • The Development of European Civilization

    • By: Kenneth R. Bartlett, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Kenneth R. Bartlett
    • Length: 24 hrs and 31 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 188
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 175
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 175

    In almost every way that matters, historical Europe was the laboratory in which the world you now live in was conceived and tested. And you'll be living with the consequences for the rest of your life. These 48 lectures lead you through the doors of that laboratory and guide you through the development of Europe from the late Middle Ages through the eve of World War II.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • The Development of Some European Civilizarion

    • By Sunshine Reader on 02-23-15

    Regular price: $52.95

    • From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History

    • By: Kenneth J. Hammond, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Kenneth J. Hammond
    • Length: 18 hrs and 13 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 751
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 654
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 646

    For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. These 36 eye-opening lectures deliver a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.You'll learn about the powerful dynasties that ruled China for centuries; the philosophical and religious foundations-particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism-that have influenced every iteration of Chinese thought, and the larger-than-life personalities, from both inside and outside its borders, of those who have shaped China's history. As you listen to these lectures, you'll see how China's politics, economics, and art reflect the forces of its past.From the "Mandate of Heaven," a theory of social contract in place by 1500 B.C.E., 3,000 years before Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, to the development of agriculture and writing independent of outside influence to the technologically-advanced Han Dynasty during the time of the Roman Empire, this course takes you on a journey across ground that has been largely unexplored in the history courses most of us in the West have taken.In guiding you through the five millennia of China's history, Professor Hammond tells a fascinating story with an immense scope, a welcome reminder that China is no stranger to that stage and, indeed, has more often than not been the most extraordinary player on it.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • "Only powerful people have liberty." Sun Yat-sen

    • By Kristi Richardson on 07-25-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • The African Experience: From 'Lucy' to Mandela

    • By: Kenneth P. Vickery, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Kenneth P. Vickery
    • Length: 18 hrs and 18 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 293
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 268
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 265

    The story of Africa is the oldest and most event-filled chronicle of human activity on the planet. And in these 36 lectures, you'll explore this great historical drama, tracing the story of the sub-Saharan region of the continent from the earliest evidence of human habitation to the latest challenges facing African nations in the 21st century. By learning with these lectures, you'll finally be able to bust myths and correct potential misunderstandings about Africa.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Africa Found!

    • By Logical Paradox on 03-12-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past

    • By: Allen C. Guelzo, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo
    • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 46
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 41
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 40

    How do historians create their histories? What role do the historian's viewpoint and method play in what we accept as truth? Answer these questions and more as you go inside the minds of our greatest historians and explore the idea of written history as it has shaped humanity's story over 2,000 years

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Professor Shows Amazing Breadth of Knowledge

    • By cmurrell on 03-23-16

    Regular price: $34.95

    • War and World History

    • By: Jonathan P. Roth, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Jonathan P. Roth
    • Length: 25 hrs and 1 min
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 203
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 179
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 176

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • War & Its Interactions with History & Civilization

    • By Jamie Nettles on 12-06-15

    Regular price: $52.95

    • Foundations of Eastern Civilization

    • By: Craig G. Benjamin, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Craig G. Benjamin
    • Length: 23 hrs and 21 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 519
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 448
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 446

    China. Korea. Japan. Southeast Asia. How did Eastern civilization develop? What do we know about the history, politics, governments, art, science, and technology of these countries? And how does the story of Eastern civilization play out in today's world of business, politics, and international exchange?

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • A worthwhile "big-history" survey

    • By Acteon on 11-22-13

    Regular price: $41.95

    • 36 Revolutionary Figures of History

    • By: The Great Courses, Bob Brier, Allen C. Guelzo
    • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo, Bob Brier
    • Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      3.5 out of 5 stars 124
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 109
    • Story
      3.5 out of 5 stars 112

    Alexander the Great, Jesus, Darwin, and Churchill are just a few of the many politicians, religious leaders, scientists, philosophers, authors, inventors, and generals who transformed our world in ways that still resonate today. Now, with this unique collection of 36 lectures from our extensive course catalog, meet the remarkable people without whom the world would never be the same.

    • 1 out of 5 stars
    • A hodgepodge

    • By Sean on 10-16-14

    Regular price: $41.97

    • History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration

    • By: Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius
    • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,006
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 915
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 906

    Mutiny. Disease. Starvation. Cannibals. From the ancient wayfarers to modern astronauts, world explorers have blazed trails fraught with danger. Yet, as History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration vividly demonstrates, exploration continues to be one of humanity's deepest impulses. Across 24 lectures that unveil the process by which we came to know the far reaches of our planet, you'll witness the awe-inspiring and surprisingly interconnected tale of global exploration.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Captivating from start to finish!

    • By Quaker on 04-19-15

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Understanding Cultural and Human Geography

    • By: Paul Robbins, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Paul Robbins
    • Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 278
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 243
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 243

    In addition to the study of the environment, Professor Robbins examines the wide-ranging implications of a world economy. You'll explore the wellspring of culture and delve into the thorny issues of geography, ethnicity, and statehood. When you complete this course, you'll have all the tools you need to look beyond the headlines and analyze world events in a whole new way.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Really enjoyable

    • By M. Gann on 01-29-15

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Understanding Japan

    • A Cultural History
    • By: Mark J. Ravina, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Mark J. Ravina
    • Length: 12 hrs
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,419
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,269
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,263

    In an exciting partnership with the Smithsonian, The Great Courses presents these 24 lectures that offer an unforgettable tour of Japanese life and culture. Professor Ravina, with the expert collaboration of the Smithsonian's historians, brings you a grand portrait of Japan.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Very interesting and informative

    • By Amazon Customer on 04-04-16

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Turning Points in Middle Eastern History

    • By: Eamonn Gearon, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Eamonn Gearon
    • Length: 18 hrs and 6 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 996
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 904
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 896

    The Middle East is a critically important area of our world. And, with its current prominence in international affairs, media images of the Middle East reach us on a daily basis. Much media coverage, however, is incomplete at best, failing to take account of either the complexities or the historical background of this pivotal region. For most of us, the real story of the Middle East remains untold. What made this crucial geopolitical area what it is today?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Closest thing the GC has to a study of Ottomans

    • By L. Ritchie on 03-24-16

    Regular price: $41.95

    • A History of India

    • By: Michael H. Fisher, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Michael H. Fisher
    • Length: 18 hrs and 28 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 549
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 483
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 482

    Over 5,000 years, India has been home to a rich tapestry of peoples and cultures. Two of the world's great religions - Hinduism and Buddhism - have their origins in South Asia, and the lands east of the Indus River have long been a central hub for trade, migration, and cultural exchange. Today the subcontinent contains 20 percent of the world's population and is a thriving center for global business, making this region one of most significant economic powerhouses in the world.

    • 2 out of 5 stars
    • For beginners only

    • By Lams63 on 02-10-17

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Native Peoples of North America

    • By: Daniel M. Cobb, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Daniel M. Cobb
    • Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 230
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 210
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 210

    The Great Courses has partnered with Smithsonian to bring you a course that will greatly expand your understanding of American history. This course, Native Peoples of North America, pairs the unmatched resources and expertise of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian with the unparalleled knowledge of Professor Daniel M. Cobb of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to provide a multidisciplinary view of American history.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Could be much better

    • By Amazon Customer on 04-26-17

    Regular price: $34.95

    • The Big History of Civilizations

    • By: Craig G. Benjamin, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Craig G. Benjamin
    • Length: 17 hrs and 49 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 238
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 217
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 215

    The history of human civilization is an astonishing story of migration, innovation, and social development. Now, the exciting new field of "big history" allows us to explore human civilizations in ways unavailable to historians of previous generations. Big history scholars take a multidisciplinary approach to study great spans of time, unlocking important themes, trends, and developments across time and space.

    • 1 out of 5 stars
    • By lecture five I gave up

    • By Marie McCaffrey on 07-31-17

    Regular price: $41.95

    • The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

    • By: Eamonn Gearon, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Eamonn Gearon
    • Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 118
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 111
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 110

    The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the Dark Ages, and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But amid the "dark" Middle Ages, the Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia from 750 to 1258, serves as a vitally important but often overlooked bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • You gotta get smart to see how dumb you are”.

    • By Richard on 08-08-17

    Regular price: $34.95

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