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Publisher's Summary

A lively and engaging narrative history showing the common threads in the cultures that gave birth to our own.

This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This narrative history employs the methods of "history from beneath" - literature, epic traditions, private letters, and accounts - to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled. The result is an engrossing tapestry of human behavior from which we may draw conclusions about the direction of world events and the causes behind them.

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

©2007 Susan Wise Bauer (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The History of the Ancient World

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Iffy narration, abrupt ending

This is old school history - names, dates, places. Not a lot of synthesis and so what, absolutely no cultural or material history if that's what you're looking for. Major blindspots (Aristotle isn't even mentioned I don't think), and the narration feels rather forced. Nice that it includes eastern history, but very hard to follow it.

8 people found this helpful

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weirdly religious

Although it used the historical method to analyze most societies, it has a strong Judeo-Christian bias that takes away its credibility.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting listen

Was nice to listen to this history in chronological order. In histories own word's. enjoy

2 people found this helpful

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Ancient History

Anyone wanting to learn about history through the ages should listen to this book. I am struck by the violence that litters our past as countries rose up to become their own. The privilege of hindsight is something that we could all learn from. History continues to repeat itself as violence over power, land, and religion still dominate our existence.

1 person found this helpful

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listening to it on repeat

Like how unbiased the author tries to be. And how everything is usually accompanied with dates and context when being explained. I enjoy it greatly

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Very pleased

I enjoyed every single chapter. The presentation of the history was most exhilarating. Looking forward to the Middle Ages book!

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Good

In comparison to some of the other history books, this one has a bit more of an interesting in story telling/reading then some other I've listened to of the same topic.

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Incredible Knowledge through Mind Numbing Delivery

Maybe it's just a personal preference, but as someone who finds this arguably "mundane" and "boring" collection of knowledge fascinating; it becomes incredibly difficult to hold interest with the way its delivered.

No sense of tonal shift, or general expression of interest by the performance. Lead me to slowing down the audio in or to comfortable digest and reflect on the information being passed using mental emotional ques to keep it interesting.

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Nice clear timeline of ancient history

A great read for the chronology, connecting so many histories together was very well done. Lacking alot of the color and texture that more concise topics usually have but was a great primer to add context to all other ancient history books. I'll def. be continuing with this whole series.

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Excellent book

This book was very informative. Some reviews on it were not so good.Not sure what those people were looking for. I will move on to the next book in the series today!

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  • serine
  • 2016-01-23

Fast paced history

Fast paced history of the ancient world. Wile reading, I could not help but visualize the earlier humans marking their territory as they competed for power and resources, spread out from every corner of Earth to build the cities and civilizations we see today. It's always a good idea to remember from where and from whom we came. This book, though long, will take you on an extremely compact tour from the first kings of whom we are aware through the fall of Rome. It covers how power and land were gained, how laws were written and followed (or not followed), and how ideals were born or killed in different regions of our globe.

Since this book provides a history for such a long stretch of time, at no time does it go into great detail of any particular period or king. The book is already longer than most books. If Wise Bauer were to go into more detail, the book would simply be another book. Rather, this book gives the reader a mere glimpse into each time period as it races along. I made of note of the time periods and leaders I would like to read more about later.

At times the author, like all authors before her, had to construct the story from sources that are difficult to verify or are included in religious texts that might be unreliable in providing an accurate history. In those cases, she did a great job and informing the reader about the speculative nature of the narrative. Excellent writing. Excellent timeline. Excellent history.

157 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. Carpenter
  • 2015-04-09

Overall good

This was an incredible journey through the ancient World bouncing seamlessly from one end of it to the other and everything in between. My only real suggestion for improvement would be in the delivery. The narrator failed to pause when something momentous was to happen like the death of a ruler. He just blew through it like any of the rest of the facts. It is a tone, rate of speech and emphasis thing. To be fair, maybe that is the point. With so many leaders being poisoned, hacked to death, back stabbed, suicidal, etc. maybe it is better to just plow through.

55 people found this helpful

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  • Ellen S. Wilds
  • 2014-04-25

An Historic Achievement

If you could sum up The History of the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

Colourful, In-Depth, Informative

Who was your favorite character and why?

Considering this book covers a vast portion of early human history it is impossible to assign particular value to a single character.

Which scene was your favorite?

Picking just one episode is difficult, but the most memorable to me was the exchange between King Croesus of Lydia and King Cyrus of Persia on the night the Persians looted the fabled wealth of the Lydians. Noting that the defeated monarch was quiet as his city burned, Cyrus asked how he felt about losing his wealth in this manner. "It is not my wealth they are stealing," Croesus replied. "It is yours." Valuable insight into the nature of conquest even today.

Any additional comments?

Although my field is 19th century Victoriana, I have an interest in many periods of history, in particular the Aegean Bronze Age and the early Celts in Europe. This book blends ancient historical accounts, myths, legends, religious texts to weave a tapestry of early human history, including civilizations as diverse as Mesopotamia, India, China and Europe. It is a massive undertaking.

I accept that accuracy is not always possible when the only texts available are those that have been translated, interpreted, and even deified. While experts may disagree on the finer points, the overall effort is worthy of credit. To keep all these many threads separate and clear is a mighty undertaking and I applaud the author for the attempt.

No historical account can be perfect as new discoveries come to light all the time, from archeological digs and manuscript finds to revisions of classic literature. If we waited for historians to agree on the details, no history would ever be written. And that would be a great loss. This is a fine historical overview and what it lacks in depth is more than made up for in breadth.

213 people found this helpful

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  • Zombie Reader
  • 2016-08-22

A Sermon on World History

Any additional comments?

I wanted to like this book. I really tried. I love history. If you want a lot of history; Bauer has provided it herein. Starting with the beginning of the recorded events of humanity much like your High School and College courses likely did. Unfortunately, it drags. It really, really drags. Not a single character stands out as interesting. In the preface it is pointed out that historians, unlike archaeologists, need to hitch their version of events to the stories of the people who did interesting things and not just lists of facts and dates. Then the book goes on to be lists of names, dates & facts for thousands of years. Lists of Kings and their offspring are batched with tiny banal factoids about their reigns are followed by more lists of Kings and factoids. Narrator John Lee has an amazing voice but unfortunately it does not fit well with this material. He sounds like a Minister delivering a veeery loong Sermon and it begins to grate on the nerves. He would do better narrating Epics & Biblical novels. Bauer knows a lot of history and Lee has a booming voice and clearly a lot of work went into the material but in this format it just doesn't play well.

76 people found this helpful

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  • S. Seccombe
  • 2016-01-10

Entertaining history lesson with dry telling.

I enjoyed this brief history. My only complaint is that the voice of the author is completely lost with the choice of narrator. I can hear the levity in the words, but the dry presentation of this material causes a loss of the authors attempt to make the story engaging. In fact some of her hilarious editorial comments are completely lost.

51 people found this helpful

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  • dan
  • 2015-06-21

Great review of Ancient World History needs maps

An Excellent Ancient History Review but would be better with Outline. maps and illustrations in PDF to accompany the great lecture and make it easier to follow and understand.

152 people found this helpful

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  • Troy
  • 2014-04-28

A Fantastic Overview!

I find that in my studies of history, comprehensive and sweeping overviews are invaluable, both to help keep people and events in perspective, and to give me an idea of where I might want to dig deeper later on. I've gone through a number of such overviews over the years, though not one as ambitious as this one. From the mists of legend through to the fall of Rome as the title suggests, Bauer weaves together all of the broad strokes of human history in this time period. For the earlier accounts, history is extrapolated from mythology and archaeology, translating symbolism into human events. Another high point of praise is that most overviews like this will pick a single nation or perhaps a hemisphere. This covers East and West, putting the rise and fall of various dynasties on a timeline that allows the reader to compare and contrast in an way that I've not seen with such effectiveness. Bauer has similar titles for Medieval and Renaissance history, and I'm looking forward to connecting those stories as one larger tapestry.

83 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Hendriks
  • 2016-02-03

Bloodshed

More than a little I'm disappointed for there is no attention for anything else then lust for power, no culture, no daily life, no architecture, no emerging of social phenomena, etc, only war between and within royal families, emperors, generals ...

56 people found this helpful

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  • Dan
  • 2015-05-09

Disappointing

Perhaps reading this would have been a better experience. It was hard (for me) to get a decent grasp of where we were in the overall storytelling. It just jumped around too much for me. Perhaps some transitional thoughts would have pulled things together...like "Meanwhile, in Persia....." or something.

81 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • K. Doerr
  • 2015-10-19

A twenty six hour sketch

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Most folks my age (mid fifties) who grew up in the States took their 'ancient history' class when they didn't talk about China or the Middle East (aside from Israel) at all. If I had a friend who never took the time to fix that blind spot in their education, I might recommend this book.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was the Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's book on that one subject is five times longer than this entire work. Like so much of this book, the ending seemed rushed.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

The tone of his voice.

Could you see The History of the Ancient World being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

This is a good question. The book *would* make an interesting BBC/PBS series. That said, I have to point out that a person usually looks for more depth from a book, than a television series provides.

Any additional comments?

What the author is attempting to do here is very ambitious, but I don't think it succeeds. I'm not sure anyone could have done any better in 26 hours. It is an enormous span of time and geography.

35 people found this helpful