The Wisdom of History : The Great Courses: Intellectual History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor J. Rufus Fears
  • Series: The Great Courses: Intellectual History
  • 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Do the lessons passed down to us by history, lessons whose origins may lie hundreds, even thousands of years in the past, still have value for us today? Is Santayana's oft-repeated saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," merely a way to offer lip service to history as a teacher - or can we indeed learn from it? And if we can, what is it that we should be learning?
In this unflinching series of 36 lectures, a world-renowned scholar makes the case that we not only can learn from history, but must.
Drawing on decades of experience as a classical historian, Professor Fears explores history's patterns to conclude that ignoring them - whether by choice or because we've never learned to see them - is to risk becoming their prisoner, repeating the mistakes that have toppled leaders, nations, and empires throughout time.
In this personal reflection on history, Professor Fears has taken on the challenge of extracting the past's lessons in ways that speak to us today, showing us how the experience of ancient empires such as those of Rome and Persia have much to teach us about the risks and responsibilities of being a superpower.
He shows how the study of those who left their impact on an earlier world - Caesar Augustus or Genghis Khan, George Washington or Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi or Josef Stalin - can equip us to make responsible choices as nations, citizens, or individuals in a post-9/11 world where those choices are more crucial than ever.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Anecdotal over fact

What disappointed you about The Wisdom of History?

After many hours of listening, the author made his way to Abe Lincoln, a subject I know a bit about. In order to tidily fit his narrative of connecting Lincoln's contribution to history as some sort of divinely directed happening, he makes a point that Lincoln died on Good Friday. This detail works great for his "last great hope" tale and messianic purpose of Lincoln - only thing is - it's just not true! Lincoln died the day after Good Friday. As a scholar of history, he surely knows this, and while it may be a small detail, it made me wonder how many other areas of history were scrubbed for nicely fitting anecdotes to work. If I elect to listen to an 18-hour lecture, I want the truth not hyperbole.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

Not knowing if I was being hoodwinked.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


Read full review

- Robert A. Sabo

A great performance on the myth of history

If history is a lie we choose to believe, than these lectures deliver it in a palatable form. I think of this as a counter balance to Zinn revisionist history. It gives clear, almost simplistic "lessons" we learn from all of history. Dr Fears always gives a performance that, to me, even rivals Dan Carlin.
Read full review

- Jason

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses