Brief Reviews of Select Great Courses Lectures

This year I discovered the Great Courses lecture series on Audible, and it’s basically been my brand new addiction. I decided to briefly highlight some of my favorites, and a few short (very short and informal) reviews of each of them. If you like the Great Courses, I’m always looking for new ones to listen to. What are your favorites? Which ones would you recommend?

This lecture series is pretty self-explanatory. I really enjoyed it, though it was more of an overview, in my estimation, than really in-depth information, and that’s really what my biggest complaint was. That being said, I’ve spent damn near three years reading everything about Russia I could get my hands on, so that’s probably why this felt more like an overview than anything else. (Basically, I did it to myself.) There are lots of jumping-off points here for rabbit holes, if you’ve got the desire to jump down any. Furthermore, the lectures are well done, and really engrossing, and Steinberg really knows his topic.

4/5 stars

Oh, fair reader, let me give you some background before I tell you how HOLY SHITBALLS AMAZING this lecture series is.

I almost didn’t get this lecture series, because it seems very intro-level and I am *not* intro-level. I studied art and music history for YEARS on a university level. I have played French horn for damn near 25 years now, in more classical symphonies than I could possibly ever count. I have played the piano for 30 years, performance level. I *know* music. But, I was feeling a bit… I don’t know… frustrated. This year has been hard for me due to health issues… and I wanted something artistic. Something that would remind me that the world is still a beautiful place despite my weird headspace and the drama circulating around me. So I took the leap and started listening.

I *DEVOURED* these lectures. I mean, granted, music is my bag. I love music. I get lost in it. I always have. That being said, Greenberg has such a fresh and revitalizing perspective into so much of this stuff, and while some of it was just a refresher course for me, I learned SO MUCH I didn’t know before. And the fact that he peppers his lectures with snippets of the songs/music he’s talking about makes it just that much more captivating. (I am still absolutely tickled by the fact that Beethoven wrote a symphony about his gastrointestinal distress, and now I will hear farting noises every time I listen to that symphony due to this lecture series, thank you very much.)

Look. You can’t go wrong with these lectures. They are amazing. Captivating. Informative. I never wanted it to end. In fact, I’m in the middle of listening to this series a second time because I loved it so much.

5/5 stars

First, you need to take into consideration that I read about tyrants for fun because the darker side of the human psyche — how far people are willing to go to realize their vision of the ideal society — FASCINATES ME.

So, basically, this right here is my jam.

It’s hard to get really in-depth information in a series of 30-45 minute lectures, but Liulevicius does an amazing job. I felt like I knew more coming out of this lecture series than going into it, and that’s always what you want for something like this. I was captivated, and it gave me so much information to expand on and learn from.

5/5 stars

This might be one of my favorite things I’ve listened to in a really long time. It’s long. I mean, you’ll be investing quite a number of hours into this lecture series but it will positively fly by. McWhorter is incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about his subject, and it really comes through in every lecture. I learned SO MUCH from this. Sometimes he went on little side tangents that didn’t mean a whole lot to me as he kind of quibbled with the nuances of some linguistic thing, but he generally veered back to the topic at hand pretty quickly.

I was particularly captivated by how words change over time, and how history and the evolution of language mix and merge.

This lecture series is positively AMAZING and it really made me wish I’d taken classes like this when I was in college.

5/5 stars

I’m not really a person who goes “WOO, EGYPT.” I mean, it’s interesting, and I like learning about it, but what interests me more than pharaohs and pyramids and stuff is all the weird inbreeding and backstabbing done by the Ptolemies (They really took “keep it in the family” seriously.). Color me weird. Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a “Great Courses” binge this year, and I ran across this one. It had great reviews and I figured “Why not.”

Brier is really passionate about his topic, and he knows so much about it. He’s been on some television shows. I believe he says in one lecture that he’s the first person to mummify a body in our modern times… or something to that effect? I mean, dude really enjoys the topic. The lecture series is mostly linear, though he does sometimes go off the timeline to discuss one thing or another, like, for example, we’re going along and then BAM, there’s two or three lectures about hieroglyphics and all the details of them/reasons behind them, and while that was interesting, after two lectures on it I was sort of tuning him out and I wanted to get back to the point.

Anyway, this lecture series covers everything you could ever want covered, by a man who probably knows more about the stuff than I ever thought possible. If he does get a little sidetracked occasionally, it’s usually worthwhile. I left the lecture with a new, broader understanding of Ancient Egypt, and a new appreciation for it. 

4/5 stars


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