The Histories

Customer Reviews

379 Ratings

Overall Ratings

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4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 05-21-12

Pater historiae: Latin, b/c who gets Greek jokes?

The narration was solid, but not top shelf. The Histories, however, is one of those books where an audiobook helps. Reading Herodotus, one can often get bogged down in the loops of geography, people, history, culture and meandre through miles of esoterica. The audiobook gives you a good pace and force-marches you through to the end. I enjoyed the audiobook, but utilized it more as a tool as I read the Landmark series. That is another aspect where the audiobook helps. When reading one translation and listening to another, similar translation, the reader/listener is often able to glean additional information.

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28 of 29 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Leslie Grey McCawley on 09-10-10

Pretend the narrator is your favorite Uncle

Every few minutes the oblivious elderly narrator bumps into the microphone or some other object nearby, which is very distracting. If you think of the reading as a favorite uncle or prof telling you his opinion of the history of the known world up to that point, (and who just happens to bump into whatever is near him) that makes it more tolerable. I am surprised anyone thought this narration worth selling as a product or worth paying for; I should have previewed it first, obviously. That said, if you can ignore all that, then the stories are mind-numbing, in a good way. So many civilisations I had never even heard of before! So many tyrants being horrible in ways new to my imagination when I foolishly thought the current evil of humanity was surely the worst. Amazing perspective on human history, in other words, and very worth either reading or listening to. It would be useful to have a map of the ancient world handy, though, as it is hard to envision the rise and fall of all these kingdoms, tribes and empires.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Steven on 07-24-08

Difficult but enlightening

At 29 hours long, this is at a times a difficult listen. The story can be dry and lacks the imaginative preoccupations of fiction. That being said, the narration gives the feel that you are hearing the stories from the mouth of Herodotus himself. Like an entrancing old man who rambles on and on, you half listen out of respect to him, and half in wonder at things you've never heard before. I enjoyed the story and narration, but the audio quality was a little lower than I would have liked.

For a fan of ancient history, this is a must listen which sheds new revelations into other pieces of classic literature and in many respects sets up the mental stage for them.

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24 of 25 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jefferson on 07-03-11

Fascinating and Well-Read History

I really enjoyed Herodotus' The Histories, about the background and main events of the epic wars between the ancient Persians and Greeks (translated by George Rawlinson). I was hooked by "the Father of History's" enthusiastic accounts of interesting historical and cultural information and impressed by his appealing balance of objectivity and subjectivity. And I savored his many digressions amplifying the historical context, as well as his detailed accounts of the different ancient exotic cultures (like the Egyptians shaving their eyebrows when their housecats died or the Scythians making capes from the scalps of their fallen enemies), which were in a sense all similar in their violence, heroism, treachery, brutality, ethnocentrism, and superstitious following of prodigies and omens and oracles. We haven't changed so much in 2000 plus years???

Despite some listeners complaining about the reader, Bernard Mayes, I quickly came to enjoy his handling of The Histories, easily imagining myself listening to an elderly, experienced, and decent Herodotus. I appreciated Mayes' subtle changes in tone to express a variety of moods, from Xerxes' waxing wroth at some unpleasant advice and the Athenians getting peeved by the Spartans worrying that they would ally with the Persians, to the suspenseful accounts of battles like those at Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis that helped decide the course of world history. I found Mayes always to be right on task, always speaking with effective clarity and rhythm, always perfectly expressing Herodotus' humor, disbelief, admiration, and criticism of his historical subjects.

The only flaw in the audiobook is the too frequent, sudden flash of a kind of static, which distracts from the overall experience to the point that I'm giving what should be a five star audiobook four stars. I highly recommend it.

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25 of 27 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Aleks on 02-18-06

Excellent Book, Lousy Sound Quality

The sound kept fading in and out to the point of distracting from this classic. A shame.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Malcolm on 10-24-08

Worth the Time to Listen

Keep a good history book handy for reference (maybe the first two volumes of Will Durant's Story of Civilization), don't be concerned during the first few hours when Herodotus seems to go off on tangents, and trust that all of this ultimately comes together in entertaining and informative fashion. Also keep in mind that new research is beginning to show that the information Herodotus relates, though often fantastic, generally had kernels of truth. He clearly made a good faith effort to collect and relay what he considered honest and correct information.

Also be prepared for some pretty graphic material as the grandfatherly narrator with his professorial voice suddenly and matter-of-factly begins relating stories that sound more like something out of the Silence of the Lambs than a history book. Quite incongruous, but interesting.

I enjoyed this throughout, and my 16 year old son, who thought I was quite daft when he initially encountered me listening to this in the car, began to get intrigued himself as we got close to the events conveyed (somewhat incorrectly) in the movie "300."

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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