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If you could sum up The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History in three words, what would they be?
Storytime with Grandpa
Any additional comments?
I LOVE The Great Courses, but this was the first course I've listened to from the late Rufus Fears, and he is definitely not for everybody.
If you are on the fence, check out The Great Courses podcast in which Professor Fears was recently featured. It will give you a sense of what he's like (of course, you can also just take the plunge and check out the course, because of the Audible/Great Courses terrific satisfaction guarantee).
This was my first course with Rufus Fears. I know a lot of Great Courses fans and most of them LOVE Rufus Fears. Visit The Great Courses Facebook page and the fans there just can't get enough Rufus Fears. Why is this so? As far as I can tell, it's all about style. In the recent podcast I learned that Professor Fears was one of the only Great Courses professors to lecture without scripts or notes. That makes sense, because listening to Rufus Fears is like listening to your grandpa tell stories. He is first and foremost a storyteller.
Don't get me wrong. His courses are fact filled, educational, and definitely entertaining, but the criticisms in some of the other reviews are also accurate. His approach to history is to embellish. For example, he recounts events of 3000 years ago by imagining conversations between the key players of the time. Fun, yes. Illustrative, yes. Accurate historically? Obviously not.
And then there are his opinions. His worldview is distinctly Christian and distinctly American (and a flag waving American at that). So it should be no surprise that Fears' list of events that changed history is heavily weighted towards western civilization, and particularly towards 20th century America. If that sort of thing bothers you, you will be bothered.
I recommend checking out one of his courses, because if you like Fears, the good news is that he has a large library of interesting courses that will keep your Wish List busy for months. But if all this makes you pause, then I recommend starting with a different one of The Great Courses. If you like history, there are many great ones. The two they have on Foundations of Western Civilization are outstanding.
P.S. - He is a slow speaker. I recommend using the speed controls on the app to go faster.
61 of 64 people found this review helpful
This is the second of the Great Courses I have read which is done by Professor Fears, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. He has a very lively and at times humorous way of telling his stories which is very easy to listen to. Also, he goes into detail enough about background and culture so that we can really understand why these stories matter to us today.
He covers a really large variety of topics, too. There are political events like Caesar crossing the Rubicon or the Athenians driving off the Persians or the ascension to power of Adolf Hitler. There are religious events like the life of Buddha or Jesus. There are scientific or medical events like the lives of Hippocrates, Pasteur or Darwin. There were a few events I had never heard of, but there were many more events I had heard of but didn't know much about. He brought these events into sharp focus and helped me understand that my life today would be very different than what it is if this or that event had not taken place.
Many of the events in the early part of the course were religious in nature--because, I suppose, religion was such an integral part of the lives of ancient peoples. I am not a believer in any religion, but I can see that these events were still very important in shaping our world into what it is today, so they needed to be included in this course.
Bottom line: I really enjoyed this, and I recommend it to you.
20 of 23 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History the most enjoyable?
This course had a great start, he covered a wide range of topics and covered a wide range of countries. The only problem I found with this lecturer was when he started talking about the U.S. He is very patriotic and this comes across clearly in his lectures, particularly when he started talking about events that mainly just affected America whilst claiming it changed the entire world, as in his words "the U.S.A. is the defender of all that is good in the world".
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is the only book in this series that has disappointed. While the identified events are mostly interesting he (author and narrator) disappears into being an apologist for American exceptionalism. It was so bad it made me turn it off and I will be deleting the book from my library and hopefully getting a substitute from Audible. If a member of the Tea Party buy it otherwise give it a complete miss.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sadly this course was not great. It might have been if I thought that the 'USA is the greatest force for good the world has ever seen.' That only works if you ignore alot of recent history. This course was based on that premise and history seen in that light. As a result it was very westerncentric. Somehow 8 of the events were in the last 100 years. Really? Not one of the great courses!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful