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Publisher's Summary

Macedonia, 336 B.C.E. - King Philip II is murdered under mysterious circumstances amid a cloud of intrigue.

Constantinople, 532 C.E. - The Byzantine Emperor Justinian nearly abandons the city to an angry mob until his wife, Theodora, persuades him to stay.

France, 1095 C.E. - Pope Urban II gives a speech that inspires thousands of his subjects to embark on a crusade to Jerusalem.

Time and again, moments shape history. We often examine history from a distant vantage, zooming in on a few kings and battles. But history is made up of individuals who were as alive in their time as we are today. Pausing on a few key individuals and magnifying specific moments in their lives allows us to experience history in a whole new way-as a vibrant story, full of life.

Living History: Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds takes you back in time and throws a spotlight on two dozen turning points where the tide of history changes irrevocably. These 24 dramatic lectures examine key events from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to medieval Europe and Asia. Spanning thousands of years and three continents, this course illuminates fascinating historical dramas on the individual scale.

More than covering great events that change the contours of history, Professor Garland takes you into the scene and allows you to hear what he terms the "heartbeat of history". Rather than merely reviewing the facts of events such as the Battle of Marathon, the arrest and trial of Jesus, and the coronation of Charlemagne, you'll engage with a variety of firsthand accounts and authentic primary and secondary sources to experience what it was like to live these events as they occurred. From reports by historians such as Herodotus and Livy to official scrolls and administrative records, these eyewitness sources and ancient documents take you back in time through the eyes of people who were there.

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

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

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Entertaining but biased and inaccurate

The episode dedicated to the battle of Poitiers between Franks and Arabs in 732 AD is full of misstatements, from the claim Jews and Christian’s had equal status in the Baghdad califate (ignoring the status of dhimmi, however well documented, for example in the Pact of Umar, 644: Christians shall wear special belts, clip the front of their head, stand up when a Muslim wishes to sit, not ride horses, not build houses overtopping Muslim houses…) to the statement the Quran never encourages war… I wonder why some « historians » feel the urge to distort the facts and embellish one specific religion or culture.

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Kept me listening and delivered

The course delivered on its promise to present historical events in such a way we could feel apart of them. I was impressed by the detail and the effort by the professor to achieve that in every lecture.

A couple of the lectures felt somewhat tedious; less interesting than others due to the event it was based on. I ended up skipping over them because they were too difficult to get through.

Overall, I was kept interested and wanted to continue listening. My only gripe was that I usually expect to take something profound after listening to an entire course; something that delivers beyond what was expected. This one didn't and simply met expectations, which is fine and made for an enjoyable experience.

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  • Mike McGuire
  • 2015-06-26

Excellent material, engaging presentation.

Dr. Garland has a very engaging style of presenting historical events by taking us into those events as though we were direct participants.

I would recommend this course to anyone with historical interest, in particular the ancient world, who has been bored/turned off by dry, recital style of historical presentation.

I intend to seek out any other of his history courses - they are simply a pleasure to experience. You will seldom get better value for your listening dollar.

47 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew W. Wong
  • 2015-06-12

Excellent but with some notable flaws

Any additional comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Garland's previous series on Daily Life in the Ancient World and was eager to pick up his latest work.

It is a scintillating journey through a series of events in which decisions or actions that took hours, minutes and even seconds shaped our world. It is told with Dr Garland's usual flare for dramatic interpretation with the expected scholarship that he is known for.

The good: The lectures on Julius Caesar, Marc Antony and Alexander the Great were fascinating with meticulous attention to detail while preserving a sense of what actually happened given that playwrights have taken liberties with some of the details. (eg: 'Et tu, Brute?' is a fabrication of Shakespeare as is Marc Antony's famous eulogy of Caesar.)

The not so good: I was disappointed with several factual errors, mostly involving the Jesus lecture and Charles Martel lecture. Dr Garland quotes from the Bible as his source, as is appropriate given that our evidence for Jesus trial is limited to that text, the writings of the Church Fathers and historians such as Josephus and Tacitus. However, during Jesus' trial Dr. Garland states that Jesus never explicitly says He is the Messiah. If we are to use our only available source, the professors statement is untrue: in fact Jesus does state that He is the Anointed One by saying "I AM".

With respect to the Martel lecture, the lecturer shies away from saying that the emerging Islamic empire was bent on conquering the known world and even seems to deny the point altogether. Surely, the Muslim onslaught within a generation of Mohammed's death as well as the words of the Quran itself belie this assertion. Though to be fair the Professor does state that as a matter of counter factual history if Martel had not succeeded that the Muslims would have conquered Europe and Arabic would be taught at Oxford as the primary language.

Overall an excellent series though not without some flaws.

37 people found this helpful

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  • Googloogun
  • 2015-08-24

Better Than Going to the Movies

Any additional comments?

Light up a bowl, burn a fat boy. Sit back and listen. You are there! The narrator kicks ass!

36 people found this helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 2016-04-05

A Difficult Review

This course covers twenty-four significant events in ancient and medieval history with the goal of making the listener feel present at the event. I have gone back and forth whether to give this a positive or negative review. There are aspects of the course that I really like—the professor selected a mix of interesting historic events and provided an often exciting description of what took place. On the other hand, the professor often inserted personal opinions and sometimes snarky comments that were distracting at times. With this criticism noted, I still appreciated the professor's enthusiasm. I also feel like I learned something from each lesson, which is how I ultimately try to judge courses like this. So, I have to give this a somewhat mixed review—not a bad course but not as great as some other history classes I have taken through the Great Courses. Since the professor only spends thirty minutes on each topic while running through a couple thousand years of history, I would not recommend this class for a beginning history student. I majored in history in college and have read many history books, so I had a good background for the lectures. Someone missing that background might have difficulty understanding all aspects of the course or could be confused.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Alisa M. Cravens
  • 2016-09-25

Biased

I enjoyed that he told history like an exciting story that you were taking part in, but he became biased against Christianity in a very negative way. His dislike and distrust of Christ and christians was evident.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2015-11-12

Another Great Course From A Great Professor

After listening to another course from the same professor, I was pleased to see this one become available.....and it did not disappoint. Well researched and expertly delivered, "Living History" draws the listener into great historical moments, allowing you to look around yourself and see them come to life.

25 people found this helpful

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  • dan
  • 2015-09-09

Loved it

One of the challenges of reading history books is that they are often dry and boring. This professor presents history through the eyes of those people that lived it. His passion shines through his telling of the stories from different times of history. I thoroughly enjoyed this purchase.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Margaret Strauss
  • 2015-08-09

Totally enthralled the whole way through.

Where does Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Totally enthralled the whole way through.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds?

Realizing just how much small decisions changed out world.

What about Professor Robert Garland’s performance did you like?

I had to get used to slight hesitations in the presentation, but once I had it was good that it was presented slowly enough to take in the information.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but each chapter has a different main character.

Any additional comments?

Anyone who loves history should get this book.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Steven Levinson
  • 2015-11-05

Very good

I am a huge fan of the professor. He has a very interesting perspective on historical subject. The primary sources very much come alive with his narration. This was my second one, after the other side of history. Will be on the lookout for more.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Shaun Spalding
  • 2015-07-30

try his other course first

Five star course, but not as good as his other one. I listened to that one first. it has a bit of overlapping content with this one and was, overall, more compelling. But his presentation here is 5 stars

14 people found this helpful

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  • roland
  • 2022-05-01

Doesn't feel like a course

I thought I'd get details and a new view on historical events I knew about but it was mostly a normal audiobook with a little bit of sentimentality sprinkled on top. Maybe that's what the book is going for, but this felt more like a documentary than a course.