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The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes Lecture

The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes

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Publisher's Summary

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 - from the Sacae and Sarmatians to the infamous Huns and Mongols - pushed ever westward, coming into contact with the Roman Empire, Han China, and distant cultures from Iraq to India.

Along the way, you'll learn how these nomads caused a domino effect of displacement and cultural exchange; meet fascinating figures such as Tamerlane, the "Prince of Destruction"; witness struggles to control the legendary Silk Road; trace the spread of Buddhism and Islam, and more.

By looking past the barbarian stereotype, you'll understand who these people were, the significance of their innovations - which include stirrups, saddles, and gunpowder - and the magnitude of their impact. Of course, these warriors did wage campaigns of terror, and you'll hear many accounts of violence as well.

Led by an award-winning professor, these 36 lectures provide new insights on how the world was shaped and introduce you to cultures and empires you've likely never encountered.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Performance


There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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  • Christopher
    Shanghai, China
    25/09/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More than You Ever Wanted to Know re Steppe Nomads"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes to be better than the print version?

    This is a fabulous course. The course covers over 3 thousands years of Central Asian and Near Eastern history and is a wonderful introduction to the Empires that have flourished there over this period. You come to appreciate the mounted archer and the savagry of the great warriors of the plains as well as their military sophistication.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The discussion of Ghenghis Kahns, his sons and the history of their empires is fascinating. This is the best structured overview of this topic that I have ever hear (or seen). Really a wonderful course and presentation.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    To say that Professors Harl has an encyclopedic knowledge of Central Asian, Near Eastern and European history is an incredible understatement. You will be constantly dazzled by the facts, figures and analysis that rolls of Professor Harl's tongue seemingly without end.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Ninja's of the dessert--3,000 years of the horse archer.


    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Christopher
    SYLMAR, CA, United States
    8/02/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One damn thing after another"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The story is fascinating, the presentation is pedestrian


    What did you like best about this story?

    As the professor says,'six thousand years of history across six thousand miles', what's not to like?


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Focus less on dates and more on the big picture.


    Could you see The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I had just come from an incredible history course - 'The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest' by Professor Jennifer Paxton. This suffered by comparison.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mike
    New Jersey
    20/02/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Attila the Hun demands you read this book!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    Are you a lover of history who seeks out those rare books that explain those often mentioned but little known peoples and places of the globe? Have you ever wondered who the Huns, Turks, or Mongols were, where they came from, and why they did what they did? Then this book is definitely for you!

    The excellent lecturer gives a mostly chronological and comprehensive overview of the various peoples or "barbarians" that lived on the eurasian steppes and played a major role in world history. In fact, they play such a large role in world history that I left this read convinced we do a great disservice by not giving them a more prominent role in our textbooks. This book covers a serious blind spot in most of the world's history books.

    He starts from the steppes earliest Indo-European inhabitants and moves through the archaic period with peoples such as the Shueng-Nu, Scythians, and Huns, discusses the medieval period dominated by the Turks, and ends discussing the terrible and glorious legacies of the great Mongol conquests and the subsequent disappearance of the steppe way of life with the advent of the modern age. The series is thorough and detailed and will leave you with few major questions once it has been finished.

    Perhaps the most enlightening part for me was how the lecturer explained so clearly the geography and dynamics of the eurasian steppes. The unique environmental factors of the world of the steppes did just as much to shape their history, and that of the world's, as did the amazing lives of those who lived there. This feature alone makes this a worthwhile listen.

    I cannot recommend this series highly enough to fellow history addicts or those who are just curious. You will not be disappointed. It was definitely one of my best reads this year. Enjoy!!!

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Leif Ole Haagensen
    18/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not a book for a history fan such as myself"
    What disappointed you about The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes?

    Having heard the history fan-friendly Jack Weatherford, and a previous production from The Great Courses (History's biggest military blunders - and the lessons they teach us), this was a downer. I understand that for a student of history, the specificity of the book is probably bullseye. But there was just too much information for anything to stick, and details mentioned seemingly for no reason.Also, I realize that my primary interest is with the Mongols, and that this book was just a bit too broad for me to enjoy as entertainment.


    How could the performance have been better?

    It surprises me that -aaaaah, a university, -aaaaaah, professor, -aaaah, can receive -aaaah, several teaching awards, -aaaaah, having, -aaaah, an extremely annoying habit, -aaaah, of filling in every sentence, -aaaah, with aaaah.Also, the extremely annoying edits with added words and sentences makes the whole prosody go haywire, and makes it tiresome to listen to. Maybe that's common, I don't know. Nevertheless, it makes it a necessity for me to never again buy a Great Course without previewing it first.
    Finally, applauding intro and exit seems artificial.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Levi
    24/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "How to defeat an army of nomadic horse archers."
    Would you listen to The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes again? Why?

    Yes, because it's a great story, but too much information to process in a single time through.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how it filled in the gaps between the major urban societies that one usually learns about. The scope of the material was enormous and putting it together was an impressive achievement.


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    The Harlisms. "How do you defeat an army of nomadic horse archers? You get your own army of nomadic horse archers!" Dr. Harl really makes some of the characters and scenes come to life. His description of Attila's invasion of eastern Europe was breathtaking. I added all of Dr. Harl's great courses to my wish list, because I really enjoyed this one and his one on Asia Minor.


    Any additional comments?

    Several people complained about the lack of a map. Those people should learn how to use google, because the internet is full of excellent maps.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    26/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No Guidebook"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    If they would add the guidebook, which is always available when you buy a course directly from The Great Courses, and often when you buy from Audible


    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Kaleb
    11/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting history, performance leaves something to be desired"

    Professor Harl's breadth of knowledge on the subject matter was top notch, and the information in this course makes it worth the listen. His performance was sub-par at best.

    Professor Harl seemed to belt this course out at the listener, I truly felt like I was being shouted at for a number of the lectures. The consistent "uhh" and "ahh"-ing became enough to make me cringe towards the end, it became extremely difficult to sit through even a whole lecture. I understand that this is the way a human's brain catches up to it's mouth, but this was extreme and I expected better from The Great Courses. There were also a number of mispronunciations, and names used when another was meant. These are small gripes when they are in small doses. They can and should be ignored in most cases. This course was an exception the sheer number of production/presentation problems added on to one another really made the course a struggle.

    I would recommend listening to the sample before buying, make sure you can take it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jonathan Spaulding
    20/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "interesting but confusing"

    a good story, but you really need to have a good grasp of Chinese history, middle eastern, byzantine, and indian, as well as a good map of Siberia. in an audio book, the locations mentioned are tough to picture unless you really know your geography.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Don
    14/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Asian History"

    Great insight into Asian History. It is very informative. The narrative includes the impact of middle Asian cultures on surrounding cultures.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Duy B.
    12/07/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "interesting read"

    some biases present from the lecturer but interesting read nonetheless. worth the cost. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • JS393241
    28/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fills in many gaps of ancient history"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. This fills in so many gaps in the east-west dialogue of history which I have rarely heard about. I found it very important to understand the links between China, the Steppes, the Middle East and the West.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom
    16/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating insight into a huge subject"

    As with many of the Great Courses this deals with a subject I hadn't realised I was interested in until I saw the title and took the plunge. Professor Harl covers an enormous subject both in temporal and geographical terms and makes it manageable by bringing a human element to the characters involved.

    I have seen comments that a map is essential to understanding the subject and it would certainly help but it strikes me that is a limitation of audiobooks in general not specifically this course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nixon
    12/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very informative"
    Where does The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best books I have listened to, it is great to listen to


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how he kept the chronology of the story, but was able to provide great detail about both the western and eastern steppe


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    I liked how he could bring the stories to life with small details about the main characters, and it seemed that he was also interested in the story


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

    The book is very long, it would take a day to listen to it, but if I could I would have


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this as a fascinating listen and a part of history that is often overlooked

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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