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  • France

  • A Short History: From Gaul to de Gaulle
  • By: John Julius Norwich
  • Narrated by: John Julius Norwich
  • Length: 15 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 207
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 186

John Julius Norwich (at 88) has finally written the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colourful story of the country he loves best. From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains to Charlemagne through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, France is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. Full of memorable stories and racy anecdotes, this is the country that has inspired the rest of the world to live, dress, eat - and love better.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Love letter to France

  • By Daniel Johnstone on 09-04-18

Fantastic history, passionately written and read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-10-18

Really excellent book, going through so many fascinating episodes that it requires a re read at some point! Really well written and performed too.

  • Heart of Europe

  • A History of the Holy Roman Empire
  • By: Peter H. Wilson
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 34 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 53
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 47

The Holy Roman Empire lasted 1,000 years, far longer than ancient Rome. Yet this formidable dominion never inspired the awe of its predecessor. Voltaire quipped that it was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. Yet as Peter H. Wilson shows, the Holy Roman Empire tells a millennial story of Europe better than the histories of individual nation-states.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Rather plain, not going to win any converts.

  • By Andrew on 28-09-17

Probably better to read than to listen

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-02-18

Really fascinating and well narrated audiobook, lots of well researched information with well balanced interpretations and conclusions. However I would prefer to have read it physically I think. Because of how hard it is to flick back and forth, I find more linear history audiobooks easier to listen to, whereas this one was arranged by themes, and timelines were hard to follow at times. Still, a good book overall, well worth investing some hours into!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes

  • By: Kenneth W. Harl, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Kenneth W. Harl
  • Length: 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72

The word "barbarian" quickly conjures images of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Yet few people realize these men belong to a succession of nomadic warriors who emerged from the Eurasian steppes to conquer civilizations. It's a part of ancient and medieval history that's often overlooked, but for an accurate view of how the world evolved, it's essential. Covering some 6,000 miles and 6,000 years, this eye-opening course illuminates how a series of groups pushed ever westward, coming into contact with the Roman Empire, Han China, and distant cultures from Iraq to India.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very informative

  • By Nixon on 12-12-14

Great scope and passionate delivery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-17

This is definitely the most interesting Great Courses series I have listened to so far. The scope is vast - 6000 years of history across the whole of Eurasia, starting with the origin of the Proto Indo Europeans and ending with the Mongol conquests. What capped it all was the knowledge and passion of the lecturer, who made every lecture enjoyable to listen to. Would definitely recommend to anyone.

  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

  • By: Jack Weatherford
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
  • Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,106
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 978
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 975

The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing! Wonderful! Couldn't get enough!

  • By Simone Teufel on 30-06-10

Fantastic history of a long maligned people!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-04-16

A really excellent book that utterly reshapes what you think of the Mongols, which have been become the epitome of evil barbarism in pretty much every culture around the world, but were actually for the most part liberal rulers valuing trade and innovation. And through the movement of ideas that the pax mongolica allowed, helped to kick start the renaissance in Europe and by extension the world as we know it today.

The performance by the reader was very good, the most calmly spoken American I have ever heard!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Silk Roads

  • A New History of the World
  • By: Peter Frankopan
  • Narrated by: Laurence Kennedy
  • Length: 24 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,611
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,366
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,349

The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westward on its axis, it now turns to the east.... For centuries, fame and fortune were to be found in the West - in the New World of the Americas. Today it is the East that calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from Eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia, deep into China and India, is taking center stage.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Poor reading.

  • By Paul on 29-08-17

Gets much better throughout

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-03-16

The book sets out with the noble aim of rewriting the history of the world from a brand new, different perspective based around what happened in central Asia, rather than being Eurocentric. However the first half of the book utterly fails to do this, as it is just the same old history of ancient Europe we've heard countless times. However it improves hugely by the middle ages and suddenly its perspective finally becomes about trade, and features bits of history new to me. The final quarter is by the far the best, the history of oil in the middle east, as this was the only section that was completely novel to me.

So persevere, and it ends up being quite a good book!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • SPQR

  • A History of Ancient Rome
  • By: Mary Beard
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,579
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,430
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,412

Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today. SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting and erudite

  • By Mr. D on 01-12-15

Pretty good history of early Rome

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-11-15

What did you like most about SPQR?

The book gives a great account of daily life and political reality of the Roman republic and early empire. It starts out pretty poorly, with the opening chapter flitting about from one point to another as if its desperately trying to explain why Roman history is important, but ends up being confusing, rushed and messy. Similarly the ending also seems rushed, as there is no winding down to a natural conclusion, possibly because the author's chosen ending point for her history is fairly undramatic, although i appreciate it's historical importance.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The most interesting part for me was hearing about the daily life of the average Roman, whether he/she be a slave, worker or senator. It's a fairly fashionable topic to cover in current history books, but it was done well here.

What does Phyllida Nash bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The narrator sounds suspiciously like Judi Dench, giving the strange sensation that you're being briefed by M.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's 18 hours long, so no.

Any additional comments?

One huge problem with this audiobook though (and not the fault of the narrator specifically) is the use of B.C.E. and C.E. which, when being heard and not read, can sound very similar. This is very frustrating at times, particularly when any given event could easily on either side of year 0. It'd have been far better for at least the audiobook to use the more conventional B.C. and A.D. for clarity.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Story of Human Language

  • By: John McWhorter, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: John McWhorter
  • Length: 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 289
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257

Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • entertaining and interesting

  • By Catriona on 05-12-13

Excellent run through of linguistics

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-11-15

Fantastic series on linguistics with a knowledgeable and witty lecturer. Highly recommended for anyone vaguely interested in the subject area

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • By: Edward Gibbon
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 126 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 78
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 68

Here in a single volume is the entire, unabridged recording of Gibbon's masterpiece. Beginning in the second century A.D. at the apex of the Pax Romana, Gibbon traces the arc of decline and complete destruction through the centuries across Europe and the Mediterranean. It is a thrilling and cautionary tale of splendor and ruin, of faith and hubris, and of civilization and barbarism. Follow along as Christianity overcomes paganism... before itself coming under intense pressure from Islam.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Immense book & audiobook

  • By El on 12-12-15

Top quality history

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-08-15

What made the experience of listening to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire the most enjoyable?

The most thorough account you could want for what is effectively a history of Europe, and the rise of the modern states that we see today.

What about Charlton Griffin’s performance did you like?

Excellent narration. The only mistake I found was at one point the narrator said "pause" and silence ensued for a few seconds.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful