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Where does Ancient Empires before Alexander rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I listen to a lot of ancient history lectures. Some are broad, some are basic, some are thematic, some are popular, some are casual. This series is serious. This isn't an "aren't-the-Greeks-amazing," "how-the-Romans-are/aren't-like-us," "Egypt-is-cool" lecture. Don't get me wrong, I love those lectures, but this is University level serious.
This is a deep dive into the ancient bronze age superpowers of the Mediterranean and Near East. Every lecture has so much critical information packed in. I needed to stop more than once and consult maps or just pause to take it all in. The lectures are organized chronologically by civilizations. Some time periods overlap as he follows each empire's timeline from rise to fall. It was helpful for me to listen to a set of lectures for one empire and stop rather than binge on them right after another.
I've listed the lecture outline below. Standouts for me were the Kingdom of David and Solomon, The Mitanni, Every Lecture on Hatti (the Hittites), The Collapse of the Mycenaean World (interesting Sea Peoples ideas), Every lecture on the Assyrians, and the Carthage and early Rome lectures (interesting from the Carthaginian point of view). All lectures are rich with essential details and not much fluff. If you are not already into the ancient world, you might hate this and I'd recommend another audible choice. If you are into the ancient world, I recommend Ancient Empires before Alexander as *THE* advanced course. I absolutely love this series and it's the one I refer back to for comparison to any new ancient world media I come across.
Any additional comments?
Lecture Table of Contents
1 A Meditation on Empire
2 Lands, Seas, and Sources
3 Sargon and the Dawn of Empire
4 The Third Dynasty of Ur
5 The Empire of Hammurabi
6 Mitanni and the Kassites
7 The Rise of Hatti
8 The Government of Hatti
9 Hatti at War
10 The Climax and Collapse of Hatti
11 The Rise of the Egyptian Empire
12 The Imperial Army and Administration
13 The End of the Egyptian Empire
14 The Minoan Thalassocracy
15 Mycenae and the Dawn of Greece
16 The Collapse of the Mycenaean World
17 The Birth of Israel
18 The Empire of David and Solomon
19 The Dawn of Assyria
20 The Rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
21 The Government of Assyria
22 Assyria at War
23 The Climax and Collapse of Assyria
24 The Neo-Babylonian Empire
25 The Rise of the Persian Empire
26 The Outbreak of the Greek Wars
27 Xerxes and the Invasion of Greece
28 From Plataea to the Peace of Callias
29 The Persian Empire from 450 to 334
30 The Government and Army of Persia
31 Alexander and the Fall of Persia
32 The Origins of Carthage and Its Empire
33 Ruling and Defending Carthage's Empire
34 The First War with Rome
35 Hannibal and the Fall of Carthage
36 Ancient Empires before Alexander, and After
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
great courses isn't just a title this is truly a great course. I enjoyed every minute of these lectures listening for hours at a time
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This lecture course covers a large number of ancient empires, leading up to (but not including) Greece and Rome. For more details about content, I strongly recommend looking at the Great Courses web site which includes titles of each lecture (and lots of reviews). I knew very little about Ancient History and this course provided a really good introduction -- relatively brief on each empire, but a good overview. However the course had two main problems from my perspective. One is that the material is very much slanted towards military history -- lots of detail about armour, chariot types etc, while the cultures are treated rather sparsely. This would suit some people but wasn't ideal for me. The biggest problem though is that the lecturer is rather boring. He does not put any personality into the material -- he sounds as if he is just reading written notes and sometimes he sounds rather bored by the whole thing. Overall I'm glad to have listened to this but I had to force myself to keep going at several points.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Yes, it was worthwhile, though I got more from reading the notes alongside my Penguin Atlas of Ancient Civilisations.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I have a soft spot for the Persian rulers, given such a hard time by Herodotus.
Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Robert L. Dise Jr.’s performances?
If the course contained information that I wanted to know about then yes; however, this is by far the worst oral performance I have yet encountered on Audible. 18 hours of droning monotone. Really pretty painful.
Do you think Ancient Empires before Alexander needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
If it does I would rather it was read/presented by somebody else!
Any additional comments?
Good and interesting material but only just about bearable to listen to.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful