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Publisher's Summary

For the past 2,500 years, we've heard about the Persian Empire as a decadent civilization run by despots, the villains who lost the Battle of Marathon and supplied the fodder for bad guys in literature and film. But it turns out this image is inaccurate. As recent scholarship shows, the Persian Empire was arguably the world's first global power- a diverse, multicultural empire with flourishing businesses and people on the move. The key is to look at the Persian Empire from the Persian's perspective. Over the span of 24 fascinating lectures, you'll take on the role of a history detective to discover the truth about this grand civilization.
You'll discover the key to the empire's success lay in its greatest rulers, each of whom played a critical role in shaping and strengthening a civilization we still remember today. But while the great kings were administering justice or waging wars, everyday Persians were just as important to the success of the empire.
You'll also learn about the empire's efficient communications network; the Persian economy and the workers and entrepreneurs who supported it; the role of women in the empire, especially the influence of royal women; and the daily cultural exchanges between the diverse peoples of the empire.
Professor Lee shows you a whole new history of the ancient world - a perspective largely unknown even by students of history. These lectures capture the people, the strength, the rise and the downfall of this great empire, revealing the complexity behind centuries of a previously one-sided history. Take this opportunity to complete your understanding of the ancient world and discover the humanity of the ancient Persians.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By John Wayne on 05-19-14

Ancient History Does Not Get Much Better Than This

Would you consider the audio edition of The Persian Empire to be better than the print version?

Not sure. I do not have the print version of any of the Great Courses. This category of Audible products is unique.

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

Not yet but if he has any others available I definitely will consider purchasing them.

Any additional comments?

John Lee really made the history of the Persian Empire come alive for me. This is a difficult subject to teach because so much of the evidence was destroyed by Alexander the Great--and then buried under so many later layers of history. However, John Lee did a fantastic job of putting all of the evidence in context (in a manner that did not require one to have a PHD in Archaeology to understand) which allowed listeners to form more complex conclusions about the ancient Persians than the remaining biased sources state.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful


By Knute on 09-08-15

Fantastic thematic historical exploration

As a student of history, I found this exploration to be filled with both crucial details that made me re-think ancient times and anecdotal cultural cues that wove a fascinating tale in my mind. Great balance of archaeological historical evidence, secondary sources and myth debunking!

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Andrew M on 01-27-15

fascinating insight into the unknown (for me!)

What made the experience of listening to The Persian Empire the most enjoyable?

The material is fascinating; well put together and well read.I know something of Egyptian, Greek and Roman history but very little of the Persian empire- other than the view that comes from Greek sources.This was an eye opener- not just about the Persian Empire, but also it's relationship to other things I know more about such as Thermopylae, Alexander the Great;...

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed all of this audio book: content and narration.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Details of things like Artemisia- the woman Persian leader; the strengths and weaknesses of various leaders -especially the Achaemenid period with the likes of Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes...- people whom I'd heard of vaguely but knew very little about.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I kept making time to listen to this- a good sign for an audio book!

Any additional comments?

It's raised my interest to know more about the history of Asia- especially in a world of globalisation.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Louis Eguchi Wale on 07-20-15

Love Persian history and this book is great. The great courses never let me down!

This is a great unbiased view of Persian history with lots of unknown facts from this learned lecturer. If you have a view on Greek history this audiobook offers a fair and fresh opposing view from the history writers from Ancient Greece and Alexander the Great.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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