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The Persian Empire cover art

The Persian Empire

Written by: John W. Lee,The Great Courses
Narrated by: John W. Lee
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Publisher's Summary

For the past 2,500 years, we've heard about the Persian Empire as a decadent civilization run by despots, the villains who lost the Battle of Marathon and supplied the fodder for bad guys in literature and film. But it turns out this image is inaccurate. As recent scholarship shows, the Persian Empire was arguably the world's first global power- a diverse, multicultural empire with flourishing businesses and people on the move. The key is to look at the Persian Empire from the Persian's perspective. Over the span of 24 fascinating lectures, you'll take on the role of a history detective to discover the truth about this grand civilization.

You'll discover the key to the empire's success lay in its greatest rulers, each of whom played a critical role in shaping and strengthening a civilization we still remember today. But while the great kings were administering justice or waging wars, everyday Persians were just as important to the success of the empire.

You'll also learn about the empire's efficient communications network; the Persian economy and the workers and entrepreneurs who supported it; the role of women in the empire, especially the influence of royal women; and the daily cultural exchanges between the diverse peoples of the empire.

Professor Lee shows you a whole new history of the ancient world - a perspective largely unknown even by students of history. These lectures capture the people, the strength, the rise and the downfall of this great empire, revealing the complexity behind centuries of a previously one-sided history. Take this opportunity to complete your understanding of the ancient world and discover the humanity of the ancient Persians.

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

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Persian Empire

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    4 out of 5 stars

Ahhh those Persians!

The best historical work I've yet listened to or read about the Persian empire. Most of what I've read to date has been boring, academic, a series of facts strung together with little passion about the subject. Professor Lee, who also narrates through twenty or so odd lectures, takes us through an updated history of Persia, tells us who the sources were and how reliable they were, and tells us about the people, culture, religion, wars, court, economy, etc etc of this ancient and great empire. I strongly recommend this for any history buff.

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4 people found this helpful

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Amazing but ..

Great story, great narration, well-structured and much more but the defending stand of the professor is sometimes overweening when he tries to convince the audience they should not believe all the criticism of the empire they hear.

Also, without providing maps, talking about geographic details is usually just confusing. I can imagine that such a course will be accompanied with detailed and annotated maps in an actual classroom. The provided text doesn’t include such maps, unfortunately.

I liked it som much, nevertheless.

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1 person found this helpful

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  • BM
  • 2021-05-11

Just amazing

I truly enjoyed these lectures. It was factual, and gave historical references from multiple sources. The stories did a great job in visualizing how life had been back then at various corners of the empire lived by ordinary people all the way up to the nobles.
I also liked how the author referenced recent archeological discoveries and referred to his academic knowledge and experience to connect the dots and fill in the gaps when necessary.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in ancient world history in general and in the Persian empire in particular.

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Amazing insight, wonderful presentation

I love Lee’s passion and enthusiasm for the subject, it clearly comes across. At the same time it’s so refreshing to have such an objective view of an civilization that has been largely forgotten by many people.

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Another banger from the great coarses.

want to learn about ancient persia? Take the coarse. The teacher is awesome and really helped me understand how tremendous the Achaemenid empire really was.

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enjoyable

great speaker. very clear and interesting. unfortunately not to much history from the actual people but what can you do

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John Lee’s amazing adventure into the past

I have learned so much about the Persian Empire through this course. I have come to appreciate how historians must be careful to examine all the evidence available before making assumptions about history. It is all too easy to take one or two sources as fact when as John Lee shows us, we can find evidence in some of the most unlikely places.
My favorite take away from this course was the thinking of Cyrus the Great who said that to be a good citizen of the empire you must, Ride well, Shoot straight, Speak the truth. Fabulous course!

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King of Kings

I generally do not like history by Americans, but this was an excellent story of the worlds first superpower. The author explores with great sensitivity the strengths and weakesses of the Achaemenid Empire. The attached pdf was disapointting. I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot.

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Great Listen

I found these lectures very interesting and informative in presenting a view of Persian history that is more balanced. Each of the lectures were well organized and covered good topics.

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Excellent

This series added to and corrected our understanding of the "non-western" era of world history

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