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War and World History

Narrated by: Jonathan P. Roth
Length: 25 hrs and 1 min
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 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 Library section along with the audio.

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

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great until the US exists

Great until the US part of history. Skips over the the less than stellar parts of US history. e.g. the monumental defeat of the US in 1812 is never mentioned. The covert operations in Iran and Iraq are never mentioned. The war crimes in Vietnam are never mentioned.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jamie Nettles
  • Phoenix, AZ United States
  • 2015-12-06

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • Urbana, IL, United States
  • 2014-11-26

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • SAMA
  • 2013-12-11

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 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Samara
  • United States
  • 2013-12-09

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 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • CHAPEL HILL, NC, United States
  • 2014-01-10

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 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Zacharia Gobah
  • 2016-04-06

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 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 2019-10-02

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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  • Alan M
  • 2019-09-22

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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  • Joshua
  • 2019-07-30

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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  • Landon Craig
  • Lake Oswego, OR
  • 2019-05-29

Not impressed with him

I thought I would enjoy the content, but I don't like the lecturer. Should have had someone else. This is my least favorite course. I could not finish it.