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Publisher's Summary

No understanding of the past is complete without an understanding of the legal battles and struggles that have done so much to shape it. Inside a survey of world history's greatest trials are the key insights to critical issues we still talk about today, including freedom of speech, the death penalty, religious freedom, and the meaning of equality.
Join Professor Linder for these 24 lectures that investigate important legal cases from around the world and across the centuries. From the trials of Socrates in ancient Athens and Thomas More in Henry VIII's England to the Nuremburg Trials in the wake of World War II and the media frenzy of the O. J. Simpson murder case, you'll discover what each of these trials has to teach us about ourselves and our civilization.
Professor Linder takes you back in time to revisit some of history's most famous trials from fresh perspectives that ground them in the evolution of human ideas of law and justice, including the Salem Witch Trials, and the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. You'll also encounter less familiar (but equally important) legal battles, including medieval trials by ordeal and the Trial of Giordano Bruno, which would impact the later trial of Galileo.
For years, Professor Linder has studied the fascinating intersection between history and jurisprudence. Now he's crafted these lectures to share that fascination with you.
©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2017 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Mark on 12-29-17

Interesting material, but . . .

The material covered in this course is undoubtedly interesting, and the lectures improve as the series progresses. But given Professor Linder's credentials and accomplishments, I had hoped for more analysis and scholarship. Instead, we get straight-up story telling, often delivered from the cinematic perspective of an omniscient narrator. This makes for light, entertaining listening, but the legal and historical significance of each trial are only touched upon briefly, if at all.

Professor Linder's reading of his script is also distracting. He is likeable and has a pleasant enough voice, but each lecture is marred by a dozen or more slip ups and mispronunciations. The overall impression is of a cold reading captured in one take and presented unedited. Great Courses lecturers are usually much more polished.

Despite these reservations, I listened to this course in its entirety and enjoyed much of what I heard. I appreciated the Professor's knowledgeable rehearsal of the details of each case, but was frustrated that he never went deeper. As mentioned above, I had hoped for a course exploring the legal, moral and social issues raised by these trials.

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By Brian&Rachel on 01-05-18

Fantastic course!!

History fans will love these lectures over some of the most defining trials throughout history. This was a pleasure to listen to as Professor Linder takes you on a journey through time beginning with the trial of Socrates. The trials are explained in a detailed and entertaining way that isn't slanted towards law students. The lectures are presented in a rational way without a lot of bias or segways into personal tirades. My only reason for the four stars on performance are the pauses when he is likely turning a page or getting lost in the text on a screen. It isn't a problem worth skipping this course and keep in mind he is a professor, not a professional audio book narrator. I highly recommend this course.

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By Dan H on 02-17-18

Excellent, but title a little misleading

I found this hugely enjoyable - hence still offering four stars. Where many of the historical lecture series from the great courses concatenate as a single thematic narrative, one to the next, each lecture here is a self-contained story, insightfully told. My one and only gripe is how few of these trials take place outside of America. Sure, we begin with Socrates, and there's Bruno and Nuremburg, but one feels these are included only to warrant the title. The vast majority of these trials are American, and I suppose I was hoping to hear something of a more mixed, international flavour. Highly recommended nevertheless. Interesting, informative, and even shocking in places.

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