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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.
©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Ian on 11-01-16

Best set of lectures in the great courses

I have listened to many of the lectures given by the great courses and this is by far the most relevant, most eloquently performed and the most informative of all of the lectures I have listened to so far. The professor was engaging, the subject matter was well prepared and the information was brought into the perspective of our own day and age. Rufus Fears shall indeed be missed.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful


By Eric S. White on 10-22-16

History in broad strokes

Any additional comments?

An insightful, entertaining search for the patterns of history. Reminds me of a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes".

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Deus on 01-19-17

A lecture by Uncle Sam himself

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

It will be enjoyed more by the jingoistic crowd from America. The America F&$k yeah type.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Removing factual inaccuracies. His grasp of history seems very slim.

What about Professor J. Rufus Fears’s performance did you like?

Nice storytelling.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Wisdom of History?

The later aspects involving Lincoln, Roosevelt and the Vietnam war.

Any additional comments?

Please do not label this as "The wisdom of world history". That is false advertising. This should be labelled as "An American perspective on world history" or something of the sort. This is the most biased course I've ever listened to. Even things I generally agree with come out as propaganda in the manner with which it is told.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By Atreides on 10-31-14

The wisdom of history (assuming you're American)

Prepare to have history analysed from an American perspective and to have it assumed that you are also living in America. This was the strongest impression I got from this book, which was otherwise quite easily forgettable. The lecturer's voice is pleasant to listen to, and he tells a good overview of history as an engaging story. However I don't think that I have taken away much wisdom from this lecture.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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