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Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past

Told through enthralling historical anecdotes, these 24 lectures invite you to travel into mankind’s fundamental desire to record and understand the complexities of the world.
Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 80.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Clearer description of course would be helpful The Great Courses description of the course is a bit misleading. The title ("Making History") and the information provided do not reveal that Professor Guelzo presents a largely Euro-centric, anglo-centric and Christian version of the making of history. Almost entirely absent are references to - or even acknowledgements of - how other cultures have understood or "made" history. Professor Guelzo is clearly well informed and enthusiastic about his material, but the course description is unsatisfactory.
Date published: 2024-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Hard Ask AG must be the most animated of TGC’s lecturers. He delivers his comments with verve and appropriate emphasis, whilst his diction is clear and modulated. A joy to listen to, except that, on the downside, he often gets carried away with his own eloquence. It is easy to see why it will elicit strong views of like or dislike. This is a shame because it will tend to lead viewers away from what he is actually saying. Moreover, his movements suggest that he is not reading from a teleprompter. The slant of this Course is an interesting one, in that it addresses HOW and WHY people record history. In itself this is a difficult premise on which to deliver coherent and believable explanations. The first few lectures, to some extent, provide the answer, inasmuch as they compare the storytelling of Homer and Herodotus with the more critical assessments of Thucydides. AG’s comments are both illuminating and, in the best sense, sometimes provocative. They usually are set against a description of the historical times he is alluding to. It gave me the desire to go back and review my other Courses on Herodotus (#2353), the Peloponnesian Wars (#3372) and the Greek and Persian Wars (#3356).
Date published: 2023-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History Comes Alive! I was immediately taken with the Prof's sense of fun and breadth of his knowledge. It is not so much an audio "lecture" as it is an animated evening in a pub with a glass of stout and listening to an old friend! A very enjoyably course to be sure! Once again.."The Great Courses" has a home run!
Date published: 2022-10-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor quality I expected an intelligent study, and instead got a biased and rather boring presentation.
Date published: 2022-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A frustrating course While historiography is a very important subject and Guelzo does raise many interesting and insightful points, I found the course a frustrating endeavor. His delivery struck me as pompous and melodramatic; a true course in historiography needs a more sober, objective presentation. With the ancient historians, I thought he provided too much story-telling and background and not enough analysis. Moreover, it would have been very interesting had he included historians from other geographies – Al-Biruni, Ibn Khaldun and Sima Qian. He was much stronger, however, from Hume onward. His last lecture was a stirring defense of the importance of studying history. I think the Great Courses needs to revisit the subject of historiography and come up with a better program.
Date published: 2022-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mastery Mastery .Never ever I have been exposed to someone who can address the subject matter in the context of history, culture, nation, religion, background, family, character, social, time, politics, literature, economics, ideas and future direction.How these ingredients play roles in defining one' s future..I wish he expanded the course into other areas like the era of Rockefeller, Garnegie, Vanderbilt, ...Morgan to understand Gates, Bemis,.....
Date published: 2022-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THOROUGH AND COMPLETE HISTORY OF HISTORY WRITERS Dr. Guelzo course surveys history writing in a scholarly and entertaining way. Not something you get in historians. He explains trends and ties them together with what went before with prior ancient and current historians. The transcript also goes into timelines, glossary, and bibliographical info. Excellent! I highly recommend the course and transcript to get a full understanding of the subject matter.
Date published: 2022-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making History Good qualified presenter - have watched previous DVDs with this presenter.
Date published: 2022-02-02
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Overview

How did the world's great historians create their monumental histories? What are their unique motives and visions in doing so? And what role does the historian's viewpoint play in what you accept as truth? In Making History: How Great Historians Interpret the Past, veteran Teaching Company Professor Allen C. Guelzo takes you deep inside the minds of our greatest historians—including Herodotus, Thucydides, David Hume, and Edward Gibbon—as they write about and shape humanity's story. Told through enthralling historical anecdotes, these 24 lectures invite you to travel into mankind's fundamental desire to record and understand the complexities of the world.

About

Allen C. Guelzo

For Lincoln, no matter what our political persuasions, moral principle in the end is all that unites us and all that ensures that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

INSTITUTION

Gettysburg College

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is the author of numerous books on American intellectual history, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War era. His publication awards include the Lincoln Prize as well as the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize for two of his books-Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America–making him the first double Lincoln laureate in the history of both prizes. His critically acclaimed book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Professor Guelzo has written for The American Historical Review, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, C-SPAN's Booknotes, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

By This Professor

America's Founding Fathers
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History as the Second Question

01: History as the Second Question

You explore and define the nature of history writing, taking account of the historian's vital act of "choosing" the elements to include in a narrative.

32 min
Homer and Herodotus

02: Homer and Herodotus

You probe the pivotal transition between epic storytelling, the literary or religious interpretation of political events, and written history. Herodotus, in his account of the Persian Wars, breaks new ground, rejecting the causal power of the gods and the right to describe the past without evidence.

28 min
Marching with Xenophon

03: Marching with Xenophon

Leading from Herodotus's conception of history as celebration, Xenophon writes of dazzling military exploits he personally lived. Thucydides' firsthand account of the Peloponnesian War brings a starkly different cast of questioning and futility.

32 min
The Unhappy Thucydides

04: The Unhappy Thucydides

Here you look deeply into the vision of Thucydides - arguably the beginning of true history writing. Thucydides asks uncomfortable questions and draws equally uncomfortable conclusions about chance, free will, human nature, and the fixtures of character that rule civilizations.

31 min
Men of Mixed Motives—Polybius and Sallust

05: Men of Mixed Motives—Polybius and Sallust

The personal character of the historian comes dramatically into play. Polybius, the Greek, living in luxurious exile in Rome, becomes an apologist for Roman conquest. Sallust, the Roman, writes to condemn the moral degeneracy of Rome - while shielding his own complicity.

32 min
The Grandeur That Was Livy

06: The Grandeur That Was Livy

Here you contemplate the monumental achievements of Titus Livius. In his universal history of "the world that was Rome," grounded in centuries of Roman annals, Livy dramatically extends both the timeframe of history and its geographical reach. His complex frame of moral judgment prefigures the writing of history as both rational inquiry and art.

30 min
Tacitus—Chronicler of Chaos

07: Tacitus—Chronicler of Chaos

Tacitus, the second Roman giant of history writing, records the murderous string of emperors of the 1st century. You meet the first philosophical historian, who reflected deeply on the nature of purpose, action, and fate in a world turned upside down.

31 min
The Christian Claim to Continuity

08: The Christian Claim to Continuity

The rise of Christianity brings a radical new twist to history. The claim reconciles Christianity with its roots in Judaism and with the bloody history of Rome.

32 min
Augustine's City—Struggle for the Future

09: Augustine's City—Struggle for the Future

Augustine's theological writings spurred far-reaching innovations in interpreting history. You witness his passionate defense of Christianity against the pagans, in the dynamic opposition of his spiritual ideal to the corrupt societies of men.

31 min
Faith and the End of Time

10: Faith and the End of Time

You trace the twisting, regressive path of history writing in the Dark Ages. As the Roman Empire disintegrates, Christian annals and chronicles take prominence. The evolving tenets of history writing dissipate, often revealing a grim vision of apocalypse - a radical, divine ending.

29 min
The Birth of Criticism

11: The Birth of Criticism

You focus on the dramatic transformations in historical method in the Renaissance. A new brand of intellectual turns in disgust from the church, setting forth a secularized conception of human events. Classical history writing is reclaimed, then challenged, in defining history as a wholly reasoned inquiry.

29 min
The Reformation—The Disruption of History

12: The Reformation—The Disruption of History

Martin Luther's protest against church corruption ignites religious wars and a Protestant reconstruction of the church across much of Europe. You probe the far-reaching conflicts of historical interpretation that flowed from these events.

30 min
The Reformation—Continuity or Apocalypse?

13: The Reformation—Continuity or Apocalypse?

You track the intimate embrace of historical interpretation and politics. In Britain, Protestant history writing legitimizes both the monarchy of Elizabeth I and the early, pre-Catholic English church. In the civil war under Charles I, the apocalyptic vision of the Protestant Puritans does battle with the king's claim to divine authority.

30 min
Enlightening History

14: Enlightening History

Hume interprets English history as containing the seed of political and intellectual liberty. In charting the rise of commerce as an equalizing force, Hume becomes the first historian of progress and freedom.

29 min
The Rise and Triumph of Edward Gibbon

15: The Rise and Triumph of Edward Gibbon

Hume interprets English history as containing the seed of political and intellectual liberty. In charting the rise of commerce as an equalizing force, Hume becomes the first historian of progress and freedom.

31 min
History as Science—Kant, Ranke, and Comte

16: History as Science—Kant, Ranke, and Comte

You enlarge the scientific frame with Kant's bold "propositions" on universal history. Following Vico's notion of an inevitable pattern in historical development. Leopold von Ranke embodies Kant's challenge, writing histories based in meticulous study of primary sources, while Auguste Comte urges a rejection of the Divine, aiming to make history writing consummately rational.

29 min
The Whig Interpretation of History

17: The Whig Interpretation of History

Contrasting markedly with scientific principle, the worldview of the British Whigs serves a different purpose. Thomas Macaulay traces British political life to its "ancient constitution," based in deep notions of liberty. You probe the validity and role of this version of "celebration," one of history writing's original impulses.

29 min
Romantic History

18: Romantic History

Romanticism rises to oppose the Enlightenment ideals of reason and order. In Germany, Johann von Herder champions the unique essence of the "Volk" in shaping historical events. Hegel argues history charting the dialectical evolution of nations as a divine movement toward ultimate freedom.

33 min
The Apocalypse of Karl Marx

19: The Apocalypse of Karl Marx

You explore Marx's influential ideology and its roots in historical thought. Marx adopts Hegel's "dialectic" of progress but applies it to economics and materialism. With echoes of Augustine, Marx predicts an inevitable political apocalypse as the bourgeoisie engineers its own destruction.

32 min
Culture and History

20: Culture and History

In the latter 19th century, Wilhelm Dilthey and Jakob Burckhardt define the notion of cultural history, at the crossroads of individual experience and the larger social existence of the individual.

30 min
Civilization as History

21: Civilization as History

You study the larger patterns of civilizations. Oswald Spengler's "arc of Destiny" prefigures the rise of Fascism. Freud and followers extend psychoanalytic theory to cultural and historical issues. Arnold Toynbee maps patterns of growth and deterioration of civilizations.

31 min
The American History Lesson

22: The American History Lesson

The tenets of history writing arise in startling contrasts in narratives of the American "experiment" - strong currents of decline and apocalypse figure in accounts of the Puritans. Conversely, the founding of the new nation is heralded as a fulfillment of the ideals of the Enlightenment.

28 min
Closing the Frontier

23: Closing the Frontier

Here you follow deepening complexities of historical interpretation. The first great post-Revolution historians glorify the triumph of liberty and political autonomy. Darker views appear with the closing of the frontier and the disillusionment with the Civil War and its aftermath.

29 min
The Value of History

24: The Value of History

You follow changes in the discipline of history over the last century, considering the influence on history writing of philosophy and ideology. You mark trends in history writing through Marxist, structuralist, and postmodern phases, in ruminating on the history writer's dedication to truth.

36 min