Read Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life (Great Courses, #4600) by J. Rufus Fears Online


Professor Fears presents his choices from some of the most essential writings in history, ranging in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America. He focuses on intellectual history and ethics, taking underlying ideas of each great work and revealing how these ideas can be put to use in a moral and etProfessor Fears presents his choices from some of the most essential writings in history, ranging in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America. He focuses on intellectual history and ethics, taking underlying ideas of each great work and revealing how these ideas can be put to use in a moral and ethical life.Course Lecture Titles36 Lectures 30 minutes / lectureBonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison Homer, Iliad Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Bhagavad Gita Book of Exodus Gospel of Mark Koran Gilgamesh Beowulf Book of Job Aeschylus, Oresteia Euripides, Bacchae Plato, Phaedo Dante, The Divine Comedy Shakespeare, Othello, the Moor of Venice Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag ArchipelagoShakespeare, Julius Caesar George Orwell, 1984 Vergil, Aeneid Pericles, Oration; Lincoln, Gettysburg Address Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front Confucius, The Analects Machiavelli, The Prince Plato, Republic John Stuart Mill, On Liberty Sir Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part 1Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part 2 Henry David Thoreau, WaldenGibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Lord Acton, The History of Freedom Cicero, On Moral Duties (De Officiis) Gandhi, An Autobiography Churchill, My Early Life; Painting as a Pastime; WWII Lessons from the Great Books...

Title : Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life (Great Courses, #4600)
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ISBN : 9781598030228
Format Type : PDF
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life (Great Courses, #4600) Reviews

  • Jessica Meyers
    2019-05-22 06:56

    This was TERRIBLE!!!! I'd seen so many good reviews about this book, so I decided to buy the audio book, narrated by the author. This was worse than going to church! He has the classic "Fire and Damnation" Southern Baptist pulpit speech style, which I can't stand. But not only that, ALL the books he's chosen has one thing or another to do with a "higher power" SERIOUSLY!!!! If I would have known this was a Sunday school lecture in disguise, I wouldn't have wasted my money.

  • Laurel
    2019-04-28 07:12

    This is another audio lecture series by The Teaching Company, which records some of the top professors in the country on audio and DVD (with an accompanying booklet) in order to make courses on a variety of topics accessible to anyone who is interested.In Books That Have Made History, Professor J. Rufus Fears presents his picks of some of the most important writings in the world's history from the 3rd millennium B.C. to present. Professor Fears describes "great books" as those that offer wisdom and make you think about the meaning of life, death, morality/ethics, society, war and spirituality/religion. There is also a lot of focus on intellectual history.Books/papers discussed are listed below in order of their respective lecture. 1. Bonhoeffer -- Letters and Papers From Prison 2. Homer -- Iliad 3. Marcus Aurelius -- Meditations 4. Bhagavad Gita 5. Book of Exodus 6. Gospel of Mark 7. Koran 8. Gilgamesh 9. Beowulf10. Book of Job11. Aeschylus -- Oresteia12. Euripides -- Bacchae13. Plato -- Phaedo14. Dante -- The Divine Comedy15. Shakespeare -- Othello, the Moor of Venice16. Aeschylus -- Prometheus Bound17. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn -- The Gulag Archipelago18. Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar19. George Orwell -- 198420. Virgil -- Aeneid21. Pericles -- Orations; Lincoln -- Gettysburg Address22. Remarque -- All Quiet on the Western Front23. The Analects24. Machiavelli -- The Prince25. Plato -- Republic26. John Stuart Mill -- On Liberty27. Sir Thomas Malory -- Morte d'Arthur28. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe -- Faust, part 129. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe -- Faust, part 230. Henry David Thoreau -- Walden31. Gibbon -- Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire32. Lord Acton -- The History of Freedom33. Cicero -- On Moral Duties (De Officiis)34: Gandhi -- An Autobiography35: Churchill -- My Early Life; Painting as a Pastime; WWII Some lectures were better than others, of course, though that could have been due to my interest or lack of interest in the particular book being discussed. I especially appreciated the summaries of books I have long been curious about, but am fairly certain I will never, ever read (e.g., Beowulf). The professor clearly had a passion for the topic, and was very enthusiastic in his presentation. I wasn't riveted, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.

  • Suncerae
    2019-05-09 04:52

    Professor Rufus J Fears presents his top picks of Books That Have Made History: Books that Can Change your life in 37 30-minute lectures. The title is appropriate in that these are primarily historical works (only 3 from the 20th century). Prof Fears stipulates from the beginning that a great book, as he defines it, has 1) a theme, 2) noble language, 3) speaks across the ages, and in general, a great book "elevates your soul".Most of the lectures consist of a summary of the book in question, so that Prof Fears spends little time on analysis. In fact, on the question of themes, he generally choose one theme per book. Themes of god, fate or chaos, ultimate evil, duty and morality dominate the chosen books, which I often felt significantly simplified the story in question. For example, Dante's Divine Comedy is, for Prof Fears, ultimately about redemption and God's true love. George Orwell's 1984 is ultimately about duty to one's government. For me, these books are so much more. Why must a book have only one enduring theme?The second defining characteristic of a great book is beautiful language, but I can only recall in one case (Goethe's Faust) in which Prof Fears actually reads an excerpt from the book, in this case demonstrating the power of the language in its original German. Lastly, the works in question must be relevant to today. Many of the beginning lectures consisted of religious books, and their summaries were tedious at best. However, I must acquiesce that these ancient works of religion still speak to many people today, despite being the source for so many disputes and wars throughout the ages.For all my nitpicking, these series of lectures did achieve their original goal - to encourage the audience (me) to read these books for themselves. I have read or at least studied about half of the books presented, and I am now eager to pick up Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, and Churchill's 3 autobiographies, My Early Life, Painting as a Pastime, and WWII, among many others.I would recommend this series of lectures for anyone interested in expanding their historical literature exposure, but these lectures serve only as introductions, and not substitutes for reading the real thing.

  • Robert Vlach
    2019-05-04 08:08

    Vynikající výběr, který ukazuje, jak by se měla na školách přednášet literatura.Ještě před pár lety měli mnozí z nás za to, že technologie, která nejvíce změní podobu knihy coby média, budou elektronické čtečky jako Kindle. Zatím to však vypadá, že největší proměnou kniha prochází v podobě audioknihy. Ty sice existovaly už dávno na deskách, později kazetách a CD, ale teprve nástup chytrých mobilů a masová distribuce po internetu přes servery jako Audible posunuly namluvené knihy do středu zájmu vydavatelů. Očekávané bestsellery (jako třeba detektivní pokračování The Silkworm od J. K. Rowling) tak dnes vychází rovnou i jako audioknihy.Zároveň tedy stále více vydavatelů (či spíše producentů) experimentuje s formátem audioknihy jako takové. Objevují se prvotřídní dramatizace (při zachování textu knihy slovo od slova), ale také knihy s dramatickou podkresovou hudbou (v tom vyniká španělská produkce od FonoLibro) a také komponované výukové programy. Zdaleka nejlepší je v tomto ohledu produkce The Great Courses, která představuje špičkové světové akademiky, vědce a intelektuály v dlouhých sériích tematických audiopřednášek, připravených speciálně pro čtenáře audioknih, včetně textové přílohy.Příkladem budiž seminář Your Deceptive Mind o kritickém myšlení od überskeptika prof. Stevena Novelly, který je (jen tak mimochodem) mnohem lepší než opěvované, avšak nudné Kahnemanovo dílo Myšlení, rychlé a pomalé. Tam kde se Kahneman točí v sáhodlouhých popisech experimentů a vlastních myšlenkových pochodů, je Novella chirurgicky přesný, střídmý, míří k podstatě a je zábavný do té míry, že se od jeho přednesu nedokážete odtrhnout. Ovšemže bez ztráty odborné úrovně, prostě borec.Nyní jsem doposlouchal další výjimečný program stejného vydavatele s názvem Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life (Knihy, které psaly historii a mohou změnit váš život). Uznávám, že druhá část názvu zní dost pitomě, ale naštěstí je pouze klíčem, který přednášející prof. Rufus J. Fears použil k výběru. Velkou knihu zde definuje jako dílo, které mělo významný dopad a zároveň je v něm něco, co k nám promlouvá napříč staletími dodnes, ergo co může změnit náš život. Tolik suchý úvod, ale tím není řečeno to podstatné!Fearsův knižní výběr i celkový přednes je totiž jedním slovem geniální. Nikdy jsem neslyšel nikoho přednášet takovýmto způsobem a garantuji vám, že když bude Rufus rozebírat dávno minulá díla antická, představovat jednotlivé postavy, měnit hlas a předvádět klíčové dialogy, vyvstane před vámi obraz knihy živější než kniha sama.Fears není herec, ale profesor historie, přesto má něco, co školený herec nikdy mít nebude — hluboký vhled do literární historie a schopnost spojovat za běhu souvislosti do ohromujícího celku, kdy před vámi najednou, během několika hodin, vystaví literární korpus, na jehož základě stojí (a padá) naše civilizace. To je také hlubší podtext Fearsova semináře, že totiž velké knihy minulosti nejsou mrtvými epizodami, ale svítícími majáky, které navádějí mořeplavce mysli dodnes. Adolf Hitler měl na nočním stolku Machiavelliho Vladaře coby pohádku na večer a knížku z nejmilejších, divíte se? Velké knihy povstávají z Fearsovy přehlídky coby titáni zápolící napříč věky o vládu na lidskou myslí a dějinami.Brilantní, mocné a nezapomenutelné! Doporučuji a rozhodně se chystám na poslech dalších Fearsových seminářů, zejména těch o Churchillovi a Římské politice. Pro zajímavost připojuji z přílohy úplný seznam knih, které Books That Have Made History zahrnuje, včetně dohledaných překladů:Bonhoeffer: Letters and Papers From Prison [Listy z vězení]Homer: Iliad [Ilias]Marcus Aurelius: Meditations [Hovory k sobě]Bhagavad Gita [Bhagavadgíta]Book of Exodus [Exodus]Gospel of Mark [Evangelium podle Marka]Koran [Korán]Gilgamesh [Epos o Gilgamešovi]Beowulf [Béowulf]Book of Job [Kniha Jób]Aeschylus: Oresteia [Oresteia]Euripides: Bacchae [Bakchantky]Plato: Phaedo [Faidón]Dante: The Divine Comedy [Božská komedie]Shakespeare: Othello [Othello]Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound [Upoutaný Prométheus]Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Gulag Archipelago [Souostroví Gulag]Shakespeare: Julius Caesar [Julius Caesar]George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four [1984]Vergil: Aeneid [Aeneis]Pericles: Oration [Periklova smuteční řeč]Lincoln: Gettysburg Address [projev u Gettysburgu]Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front [Na západní frontě klid]Confucius: The Analects [Hovory]Machiavelli: The Prince [Vladař]Plato: Republic [Ústava]John Stuart Mill: On Liberty [O svobodě]Sir Thomas Malory: Morte d’Arthur [Artušova smrt]Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust, Part 1 [Faust. 1. díl tragédie]Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust, Part 2 [Faust. 2. díl tragédie]Henry David Thoreau: Walden [Walden aneb Život v lesích]Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [Úpadek a pád římské říše]Lord Acton: The History of FreedomCicero: On Moral Duties [O povinnostech]Gandhi: The Story of My Experiments with Truth [Můj život]Churchill: The Second World War [Druhá světová válka], My Early Life, Painting as a Pastime

  • Amy Prosenjak
    2019-05-17 08:09

    Book info was great, professor narrator was annoying!

  • Christabelle
    2019-04-25 08:10

    Loved this one!

  • Skylar Burris
    2019-05-04 12:16

    This is one of the best Teaching Company lectures series to which I have listened. Dr. Fears is a truly gifted lecturer, such that he uses the lecture almost as a performance art form. He does not conduct in-depth literary analysis of the works he discusses, but rather retells them with flourish and pinpoints their major themes, tracing these themes throughout the wide variety of great books he has selected and frequently linking back to previous books he has discussed. There is nothing dry in his approach to literature, which is a way of looking at the great books as existing not to be dissected for tropes and metaphors or analyzed through feminist, Marxist, or psychological lenses, but rather to be read and learned from, to be treated as the source of great truths. It is these truths he explores throughout the works, which stem from a variety of ages and cultures. I do not quibble with his selections; there are certainly more books I wish he had covered, but none I did not enjoy learning about. He retells the works in such a way as to make them more understandable, more immediate – these are not dull summaries, and there are several I would listen to again. I have read less than half of the books he discusses, but even when I had read a book, I found his retelling just as interesting as when I had not.

  • David
    2019-04-30 08:49

    I have been watching this series of recorded lectures on DVD with my coworkers. It is our Thursday lunchtime activity. I can honestly say that I have never encountered another lecturer who is as simultaneously engaging and thought-provoking as Professor Fears.The lecture in this series that has had the most impact on me is his lecture on Lord Acton. Although Acton never wrote a book, his lectures and papers nevertheless well deserve their place in this series on "Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life." Acton accurately predicted the politics that lead to World War II and even predicted America's slow decline into its current political climate.Fears certainly knows the books about which he lectures, be he certainly knows Acton best. Immediately after watching his lecture on Acton, I put Fears's three-volume collection of Acton's writings on my to-read list.I cannot praise this series enough. I urge you to buy it or find it at your local library. You'll do yourself a great disfavor if you do not.

  • Brian Eshleman
    2019-05-09 03:54

    This series was actually a little overstimulating. It is hard to assimilate all of the great ideas Dr. Fears touched on in his series of 30 minute lectures. If you are under the conviction that you need to read more of the Great Books and don't know where to start, this is a good series for you, because his summaries can help you identify which works touch your soul right now.SECOND READING: Some of these lectures can be a bit dry, but this professor's passion for his subject deserves to be commented upon. He certainly seems sincere in inviting the listener into these works.

  • Darryl
    2019-05-22 12:00

    Professor Fears is a story teller more than a lecturer. He relates the stories in and about these great books and keeps the listener enthralled. At the same time, he emphasizes the books' themes, some of which are opposed to others, but all pointing to universal moral truths. Very highly recommended.

  • Mike Jensen
    2019-05-15 10:01

    I enjoyed this lecture series, but I am a Shakespeare scholar so when Fears gets the Shakespeare wrong, I have to wonder what else he got wrong.

  • Emily Purcell
    2019-05-17 11:08

    I really tried to give this one a chance because I like to love all the books he was covering in this audio course. However there were two related issues with the author's point of view that I just could not get past. First was his slavish devotion to the "Great Man" view of history and the idea that "great books make great men." This leads him to an insurmountable problem in his very first chapter on Nazi-era German dissident, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If the strenuously classical curriculum of the German Gymnasium made Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of A Testament to Freedom, a "great man" why did it turn many of his fellow students into flaming Nazis? Professor Fears is not afraid of this question. He argues that the Nazis did not benefit from their choice in literature because they were moral relativists. Fears is either a simpleton or a liar. The Nazis had an extremely clear sense of right and wrong, they were just....well wrong.

  • Adrian
    2019-05-04 10:54

    It felt too much like listening to a sermon than a lecture series. The first half of each lecture is often interesting, placing the author and his book in the context of history. Yet then the lecturer stumbles into a sort of pantomine as the plot of each book is retold as if reading a night-time story to a child.However, there are books here that I am now inspired to read, and as such the course is successful in helping to explore and appreciate great literature.

  • korally
    2019-05-11 10:07

    I hate reading books when I was young so I decided to read this audible to know the great books in history. The author is really good to keep the attention of the listeners. I will definitely read 2 or 3 books mentioned in the courses.

  • Laura Schrillo
    2019-04-25 09:01

    The only problem with this course is that is added to my TBR. He is a great lecturer . I really enjoyed this course. I was especially intrigued by Cicero.

  • Verena Wachnitz
    2019-05-03 05:08

    Wonderful audiobook that covers a vast selection of classical works of literature in an engaging and accessible way.

  • Nicole Dunton
    2019-05-22 11:55

    This audio book is more of a series of lectures than an actual novel. It talks about some of the books that have changed lives throughout history. Some of the greatest books ever written are included in this. All of the lectures are split up in thirty minute (or so) increments. I really enjoyed these lectures. I'm ashamed of myself for not having read most of these. I now have them in quick access so I can read them in the immediate future. The lectures were all easy to follow. They were straight forward and to the point. I feel that a lot of view points I've learned in my life were analyzed and I was shown a new point of view. I love when these things happen. There's nothing better than having your beliefs and view points expanded, in my opinion. Normally, I'd include a review of the narrator. I don't feel I can really do that in this case being as the narrator is a professor being recorded. I do have to say that I wish all professors could explain things like he could. He made things very easy to understand and relate to. Like I said earlier, I feel that things explained helped broaden my beliefs.I fully recommend this audio book. I have now listened to three different Great Courses audio books. I've loved all three of them. I can't wait to dive into more audio books by Great Courses. I fully recommend they be looked up on Audible. They have a huge selection of subjects to get into.

  • Sunil
    2019-05-17 11:05

    Another wonderful teaching series lectures, presented by Professor Fears is a monumental compendium of the most significant books written in human history. He qualifies his choices of the books on the following attributes - its theme, the noble language of the book, the universality and timelessness of what the book espouses ( mostly values) and finally the books that elevates the soul. The series is broken into 30 lectures dealing with a book each ( hence perfect for short commutes). The presentation is commendable and passionate. I had little knowledge of some of the books ( Gilgamesh) , a few were religious texts ( Book of Exodus and Quran ) and a few very well known spiritual texts ( bhagvadgeetha and Gandhis autobiography) The assortment is a brilliant primer to an emerging interface of history, psychology, philosophy and anthropology of our times. The books were delivered with great enthusiasm and passion. It made me wonder what impact the series would have had on me if I had come across at 12. Professor Fears goes through all the thirty books without analysing them in detail or just simplifying them into a undergraduate essay. He weaves them with his eloquence, humour and a sense of wonder, jus enough for the reader to look more. He concludes the series in the final chapter, identifying precisely what had running through my mind - of relevance, especially to our 21st century post-modern world. His ending analysis is incisive. As Socrates had said centuries back - the great virtues of wisdom, bravery, moderation, duty, honesty, and justice are timeless and eternal. It is us in the postmodern world are losing their meaning and maybe with all the technological assault around, are unable to find the 'reflective time' to learn what they are. Not all works and choices are perfect, but For its ambition, its taste, its value, and for its ability to introduce or incite interest in some of the invariably unknown or so called uninteresting books to our generation, the series of lectures deserve a five star. In one word, inspiring! And I never use the word loosely.

  • Kristi Richardson
    2019-05-23 06:52

    This course is about exploring the greatest books ever written that changed the world. It also explains why they are great and how they affected those around them. Professor Fears is a great lecturer and always keeps things interesting. Each lecture is around a half hour each so great to listen to on your commute or when you have a short time to devote to the lecture.The books per Prof. Fears are:1. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer2. Homer 's Illyiad3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius4. Bhagavad Gita5. Exodus by Moses6. The book of Mark in the New Testament7. Koran8. Gilgamesh9. Beowolf10. Job11. Oresteia by Aeschylus12. The Bacchae by Euripides13. Phaedo by Plato14. The Divine Comedy by Dante15. Othello by W Shakespeare16. Prometheus Bound17. Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn18. Julius Caesar by W Shakespeare19. 1984 by George Orwell20. The Aeneid by Virgil21. Gettysburg Address by A Lincoln22. Pericles Funeral Speech23. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque24. Confucius25. The Prince by Machiavelli26. Plato's Republic27. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill28. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory29. Faust Parts One and Two by Goethe30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau31. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons32. Lord Acton's History of Liberty33. On Duties by Cicero34. Autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi35. My Early Life, The Second World War series and Painting as a Pastime by Winston ChurchillThe last lecture goes over the books quickly and talks about the lessons taught and that the best way to pursue knowledge is to open your minds and meditate on each book in order to let what the author is trying to tell you sink in. I highly recommend this class. It opened up a whole new world to explore for me.

  • Karen
    2019-05-21 11:53

    Professor Fears takes readers on a wondrous journey through the compelling messages of titles that can have a pivotal influence in the lives of those who read them. He begins by defining a great book as one having a great theme, as being written in noble language which elevates the soul, that speaks across ages and that possess universality. He further states that reading a great book means sitting with the book and allowing it to speak. It will only speak if we open our minds. The titles explored include The Iliad by Homer, The Book of Job, Letters and Papers From Prison by Bonheoffer, The Prince by Machiavelli, The Republic by Plato, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon, My Early Life; Painting as a Pastime; WWII by Winston Churchill and All Quiet on the Western Front, by Remarque are often assigned to readers in their youth. Professor Fears states that at time in life there is little life experience in place to appreciate the richness and the history of the times portrayed in these titles. He artfully distills the message in each that is a challenge that if grasped will propel the reader on a quest to identify their values and bring the most to the world around them through their talents.Listening to these 36 lectures on 18 CDs was like going back to school and really digesting the messages conveyed by the authors. Not only did I benefit from this listening experience, I was able to move back time when I first read many of them and crystallize the meaning now and back then when I was first introduced. If you have a long commute or if Audio is your preferred method of reading…do pick this one up! The information is very accessible to listeners.

  • Josh
    2019-04-26 10:13

    Professor Fears had a unique gift for storytelling and he does a masterful job summarizing his selections, even though he is often preachy and bit overly theatrical. He is entertaining, insightful, and obviously passionate about his subject matter. I didn't really care that the professor was interpreting these books from a conservative Christian viewpoint -- I find the culture wars and American politics tiring and largely not worth my time -- but it is something I think readers/listeners should be aware of before commiting. Professor Fears does a decent job paying lip service to opposing viewpoints, but he often does so dismissively, without really pursuing a line of thought that might contradict him. If this sort of thing bothers you, beware. I probably would have avoided this course if I had known about his agenda in the beginning, but I would have missed out on something very unique. In a way, it's his bias that turns a potentially dull recitation of dusty texts into a masterful dialogue on morality, honor, and liberty. The only thing worse than a biased professor is one who is apathetic to the material. At least with the former you are bound to learn something if you are willing to keep an open mind.

  • Monica
    2019-04-23 10:59

    I was truly looking forward to this course but found myself disappointed overall with the content and presentation. It took several lectures to realize that Fears was pigeonholing each great "book" that he chose into imposed categories that reflected the point he wanted to make - mainly that all great books point to universal truths in direct contrast with our current moral and social relativism. While I'm deeply schooled in said current relativism, and while I'm sympathetic to his goals of offering a needed moral compass based on the themes of great books - throughout his lectures he simplified these massive and thought provoking texts into mere minutes of theme. He rarely took time to offer that there are a variety of interpretations found in any one great test. He devoted one whole lecture to highlighting disparate papers he has compiled from Lord Acton (not a great book, but simply highlighting some of his own scholarship), and he never once, in 36 lectures, found a book authored by a female to be great enough for inclusion. By the end of the lectures I was forcing myself to complete just so I could give the series a fair listen before giving in to my disappointment.

  • Jeff Keehr
    2019-05-09 09:10

    I was curious to see what books Fears included in his course. He included many that I have not read: The Republic, The Aeneid, Meditations, the plays of Aeschylus, and a slew of others. He didn't include works that I think made history, such as Ulysses and Remembrance of Things Past. But there are only so many books you can teach in one course. His personal politics began to emerge and I had a strong feeling that he and I are poles apart in that regard, so I found myself disliking him for no apparent reason. I think it began when he taught Julius Caesar, whom he regards as one of the greatest figures in history. But Shakespeare does not paint Caesar as a great man. He portrays a vain man who doesn't like competition. So while I enjoyed the survey of great books, I did not agree with much of what Fears claims that these books teach. They are too complex to be characterized in a few words like courage and honor and wisdom.

  • Sherri
    2019-05-23 04:06

    Love this series, probably because I am a geek and as far as I'm concerned, what's not to love about 30 plus lectures on great books--or as the narrator explains-- books that can change your life or at least change the way you live your life. I thought the professor was great, except his tendency to say "literatour" instead of literature which made him sound a little snobby and high-brow. He really gets into the telling of the great classic stories like Beowulf and Gilgamesh. I was entertained the entire time and learned a lot too. I do have one complaint. One of his lectures was about Exodus in the Old Testament. I thought he misstated what I thought was accepted history regarding Abraham and left out some critical things about Moses' story too. This made me wonder if he was taking liberties with some of the other stories and books with which I was not as familiar.

  • Anastasia
    2019-04-24 07:55

    The lecture series was a good introduction to what Fears considers "great" books and Fears is truly a professor in the literal sense of the word. Not an easy task to discuss absolute morality and the virtues of wisdom, truth, courage, and moderation in a 30-minute lecture format. I quite enjoyed his sense of humor and dramatic flair, especially in his summaries of Greek tragedies. At times, however, he professed a little too much and the "greatness" of some books was less great than...well...others. It was also a little sad that Prof. Fears couldn't find a single book by a woman that he considered life-changing.

  • Victoria Drob
    2019-05-11 09:03

    I'm a big fan of The Great Courses lectures, however, these were not so great. I was hoping for a more profound book analysis, whereas this is more of a book synopsis. The first few lectures seemed to do a good deal of preaching, almost gospel style. In general the course offered little to nothing on the books I've already read, piqued my interest to read several other titles discussed, and offered general overviews on books which I know I'm unlikely to ever read but wanted to know a bit about.

  • John Doyle
    2019-05-01 10:54

    Professor Fears executes 38 high-energy lectures that offer context, summaries, and poignant excerpts from "Great" books. Any avid reader is likely to discover familiar titles, new books for their queue, and a few favorites missing from the series. In every case, Dr. Fears' passion for the material makes the lectures entertaining enough to look forward to each day. For me, the lectures on Letters and Papers From Prison (Bonhoeffer), The Gulag Archipelago, On Moral Duties (Cicero), and Churchill, My Early Life; Painting as a Pastime; WWII were highlights.

  • Adrienne
    2019-05-14 04:52

    I always love these Great Courses lectures and this one was no exception. Rufus Fears is very entertaining and the information is excellent. The only thing that kept it from being 5 stars for me was that there wasn't enough time in the 30 minute lecture format to go into too much detail about some of the important ideas that were being discussed. I've read about 40% of the books that were covered, and while I may never tackle some of the others, there are several that will go on my lifetime reading list.

  • Aubrey
    2019-05-14 05:58

    Professor Fears selects 30 works of history that can impart wisdom for a set of Universal values: power, courage, moderation, honor, duty, honesty, and justice. Having only read half a dozen of the 30 recommended works, I now have a good starting point for incorporating more classical literature into my 2014 reading list. Professor Fears speaks as southern preacher from a pulpit, in broad sweeping grandeur statements. He is an excellent storyteller and well worth the 18 hour investment of listening to his course. Learned a tremendous amount!

  • Scott_flaxman
    2019-04-26 04:08

    This is a series of lectures about books that are not only classics, but that have in some way shaped the world in which we live. A key theme is picked out of each work, and that theme is explored in detail. Key themes include: dealing with our mortality, living a good life, interpreting 'duty' (and understanding what responsibility we have for the actions we do in the role of duty) and, more importantly, the nature and role of 'truth'.Well presented, thorough and inspiring.