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This is a really fine course, well organized, superbly presented, and unique in its content. Since most of us will never make it through Gibbon's masterpiece (the unabridged Audible versions take up over 140 hours), this enlightening overview explains how great the book is, not only in the field of classical history, but also from literary and philosophical perspectives.
From the description of Gibbon's "periodic" writing technique to the seamless integration of Roman history and the "big questions" that face all civilizations, Dr. Damrosch's course is both fascinating and important, and his lecture style is delightful. Well done, Dr. Damrosch!
Written during the last half of the 18th century, the history Gibbon presents so exactingly in "The Decline and Fall" was filtered through the lenses of the European enlightenment and also through the perspective of a nation (England) with its own Empire. The fact that Volume 1 appeared in 1776 is not insignificant in the overall scope of the book.
So, even though most of the lectures describe the content of the book, and thus constitute a history of, well, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," the overall impact consistently speaks to much larger issues that are still important. This truly is one of the "Books That Matter."
Well done, Mr. Gibbon!
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I had the pleasure of taking an undergrad course with Prof Damrosch decades ago. Listening to this series was better than revisiting the classroom--it was more like listening to an old friend, a very well-read old friend, talk about this interesting book he had just read. The fact that it was the 6 volume Gibbon and the chat went on for hours was not a bother in the least. I listened generally during my 30-45 minutes in the car each day, and was always glad to pick up where we had left off. Prof D proceeds at a good pace, hitting the highlights, sometimes giving a preview of what's ahead, sometimes refreshing something we covered a while back, and always with a nice sense of humor and side references that bring other eras and other bits of culture and English Lit into play. My only regret was coming to the end of the course. I think the Prof would be pleased that I am also inclined to dig out my set of Gibbon and settle into a comfortable armchair for another visit.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful