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Publisher's Summary

By understanding the dramatic story of the Ottoman Empire - from its early years as a collection of raiders and conquerors to its undeniable power in the 15th and 16th centuries to its catastrophic collapse in the wreckage of the First World War - one can better grasp the current complexities of the Middle East.
Over the course of these 36 enlightening lectures, investigate over 600 years of history that covers the nature of Ottoman identity, the achievements of the Sultan's court, and stories of confrontation and cooperation with the West.
Befitting a story of such epic scope and grandeur, every lecture is a treasure trove of historical insights into the people, events, themes, and locales responsible for shaping the story of this often-overlooked empire. You'll cover everything from Rumi, the whirling dervishes, and the importance of the sultan's grand viziers to the wars of Sultan Suleiman I, the shadowy politics of the Committee of Union and Progress, and the birth of the Turkish Republic under Kemal Atatürk.
Welcome to a fascinating story of the triumph and tragedy, war and peace, intellectual progress and civil insurrection of a great empire that, for all its glory and grandeur, has left an important legacy that will shape the future of the Balkan nation-states, the Turkish Republic, and the Arab world - and those of us in the West as well.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mike R. on 08-09-17

Another A++ series from Prof. Harl!!!

I’d give it 7 of 5 stars if possible. It is superbly organized. It’s terrific to see history unfold from the Ottoman viewpoint. I think it corrects for conceptions of the modern Muslim-majority nation state that is too frequently projected into the past. The course is very helpful in thinking about the Balkans and the lead up to WW1.

I appreciate Prof. Harl most when he’s focused on Antiquity through the Middle Ages, where his style is to tell us what the literary sources say – what the archaeological record (so far) tells us – the relevant ancient anecdotes and excerpts (from Herodotus, Plutarch, Livy) that make history interesting – a few jokes of his own – and then maybe a few comments on the current “state of scholarly debate,” or where he has a bias with which other history profs may disagree.

To contrast, some very good lecturers get too bogged down in what various historical “schools of thought” say about a subject (Fagan, others). Others get too cute in trying to weave a continuous narrative and leave out too many details (Fears, Garland). A few bad apples start with a sociological point of view, and try to read that back into time by cherry picking incidents that support it (Dise).

Harl’s lectures are authentic and flow naturally, without any gimmicks. His mastery of the material is obvious. I have listened to all 11 of his courses, most more than once, and he’s simply the best. I would love to see him do a deep dive on the Iranian plateau – Persians though Seleucids, Parthians, Abbasids, etc. That has yet to be covered in detail by a lecturer of Prof. Harl’s caliber.

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11 of 13 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Nick on 07-01-17

Surprisingly biased

I enjoyed every other series Professor Harl has made, but this one was sub-par. I found myself wondering why he was really hitting hard on the positive stuff about the Ottomans and downplaying the negative, when what I'd admired about his other lectures was the relatively unbiased approach. They weren't apologies but they weren't condemnations either, it was simply history. This series really felt like an op ed piece at times, and Harl often exhibits doublethink (ex: denies that the Armenian genocide occurred because it doesn't fit the UN definition of genocide, but then dismisses the German govt's acknowledgement of the genocide since he "doesn't think politics should play a role in deciding what actually happened"). Once he said he has a Turkish wife though, it started to make sense. There's still some good information in the course, if you don't mind that he glosses over some of the more gruesome aspects of Ottoman society, like how the Janissaries were kidnapped and forcibly circumcized, or the fact that he never really explains that whole silk cord thing or any of the cultural background in which such practices emerged.

That being said, I don't think this course is worth purchasing, you could get all this information on wikipedia and you wouldn't be missing out on any thing really. The most interesting part of the narrative is whenever Europeans enter the scene and Harl has plenty of other quality courses on those subjects, like The Era of the Crusades, World of Byzantium, and Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor.

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47 of 64 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By C M Pihl on 01-18-18

Extremely biased, Pro Ottoman/Turkey

Without a doubt the most biased "historian" I've ever encountered. I understand that the people researching an empire, most likely have a stake in toning down the worst qualities of said empire. I do however expect, at least a resemblance of, objectivity from your Professors, wich most of them attain. Not so i this Course, unfortunately... "Through no fault of the Ottomans" is probably the most spoken or implied sentence in this travesty.

I was looking forward to learn more about this once great empire, as I've successfully done with so many others, but this simply became an example on how NOT to act... when the Professor at times refer to the Ottomans as "we", and also tries to blame the Armenian genocide ON THE Armenians... that was the last straw of an already empty experience.

Also, the entire lecture seems a bit unordered, and can be hard to follow, due to his over enthusiasm and badly structured planning.

Hope you will be more selective in the future, but all other courses I've listened to, has been an absolute pleasure :)

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Thomas on 06-06-18

An excellent overview

Running at 18 hours long it may be surprising to learn that I think this audiobook is too short. However when covering hundreds of years of history as this audiobook does it may be that details were omitted in favour of covering the entire period of history.

I came at this audiobook as a complete novice I have no historical qualifications and my interest in this audiobook was for entertainment/curiosity reasons rather than academic and therein may lie the problem.

I felt like this audiobook was mostly dates and names and a brief outline as we travel through the years. None of the people were really brought to life and there was little to no mention of the day to day population and very little focus on the females in the Ottoman empire (Unless you are a 'scheming' mother of a potential Sultan). Basically unless you are a Sultan or a high ranking male official you aren't getting a mention in this book and even if you are then you may not be given much of a fleshing out.

The narration is excellent as the professor is clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about his subject matter.

In summary a very detailed academic study of the Ottoman empire but maybe not suitable for a layman like me who wants an entertaining account of history.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Anonymous User on 03-14-18

Skip the Armenian genocide

I truly enjoyed it. Shame about the apology of the Arminian genocide. Apart from this is I learnt a lot.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Adam on 10-06-17

Very Educational

well constructed and thought out lecture series. Highly recommended. only complaint is that the lecturer stumbled over names. A lot.

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