The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes : The Great Courses: Ancient History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Kenneth W. Harl
  • Series: The Great Courses: Ancient History
  • 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The word "barbarian" quickly conjures images of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Yet few people realize these men belong to a succession of nomadic warriors who emerged from the Eurasian steppes to conquer civilizations. It's a part of ancient and medieval history that's often overlooked, but for an accurate view of how the world evolved, it's essential.
Covering some 6,000 miles and 6,000 years, this eye-opening course illuminates how a series of groups - from the Sacae and Sarmatians to the infamous Huns and Mongols - pushed ever westward, coming into contact with the Roman Empire, Han China, and distant cultures from Iraq to India.
Along the way, you'll learn how these nomads caused a domino effect of displacement and cultural exchange; meet fascinating figures such as Tamerlane, the "Prince of Destruction"; witness struggles to control the legendary Silk Road; trace the spread of Buddhism and Islam, and more.
By looking past the barbarian stereotype, you'll understand who these people were, the significance of their innovations - which include stirrups, saddles, and gunpowder - and the magnitude of their impact. Of course, these warriors did wage campaigns of terror, and you'll hear many accounts of violence as well.
Led by an award-winning professor, these 36 lectures provide new insights on how the world was shaped and introduce you to cultures and empires you've likely never encountered.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

More than You Ever Wanted to Know re Steppe Nomads

Would you consider the audio edition of The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes to be better than the print version?

This is a fabulous course. The course covers over 3 thousands years of Central Asian and Near Eastern history and is a wonderful introduction to the Empires that have flourished there over this period. You come to appreciate the mounted archer and the savagry of the great warriors of the plains as well as their military sophistication.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The discussion of Ghenghis Kahns, his sons and the history of their empires is fascinating. This is the best structured overview of this topic that I have ever hear (or seen). Really a wonderful course and presentation.

Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

To say that Professors Harl has an encyclopedic knowledge of Central Asian, Near Eastern and European history is an incredible understatement. You will be constantly dazzled by the facts, figures and analysis that rolls of Professor Harl's tongue seemingly without end.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Ninja's of the dessert--3,000 years of the horse archer.

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- Christopher


I loved parts of this and I hated parts. I loved the parts on Attila the Hun and Genghis and his sons and grandsons. Attila was two lessons. Genghis and Sons about 10 lessons. There was some other interesting lessons, but there were about 12 lessons that were torture. Not about torture, but torture to lesson to. A lot of places, names and dates are thrown around.

Overall it was worth the money. Did you know that, even though Attila is a popular name in Hungary, the Huns did not come from there? Did you know that the Turks' Homeland is Mongolia? A Hoard is an army.

If you listen to the sample, you may be surprised that this guy gets paid to speak. I admit that it bother me a little, but only a little. Even though the Professor knows his stuff and he is an academic, he showed humility. He seemed like someone you would like to meet. Mostly his enthusiasm for the subject is very evident and infectious. He seems to get very excited. He stutters, says and a lot, but he delivers when it comes to the lesson.
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- Jim "The Impatient"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-10-2014
  • Publisher: The Great Courses