Friday, November 10, 2017

How Explorers Created Our World: History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration

History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration (Great Courses)
by Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

This is one of the Great Courses, a series of recorded lectures. In this course, Professor Liulevicius describes explorers from antiquity to modern times and our quest to land a man on the moon in the 1960s.

There are 24 lectures of about thirty minutes each, so a total of about twelve hours. Each lecture is presented as a story in rich language not without bits of humor. The lectures focus on explorers everyone knows like Marco Polo but also some less-well-known figures like Xuanzang (at least not as well-known in the United States) and Ida Pfeiffer. Here are some of the explorers included:
  • Pythias the Greek
  • St. Brendan
  • Xuanzang
  • Leif Eriksson
  • Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville
  • Ibn Battuta
  • Christopher Columbus 
  • Magellan
  • Conquistadors - This lecture mentions how Catholic missionaries in the Americas often struggled against those who enslaved and murdered indigenous populations in the Americas.
  • Henry Hudson
  • The Jesuits - There's only one sentence near the end of this lecture in which the professor indicates he doesn't subscribe to the faith of the Jesuits and (maybe) doesn't exactly approve of their evangelization efforts. Overall, this is a surprisingly favorable view of the Church and the Jesuits' efforts to protect and aid those they encountered on their missionary journeys.
  • Captain Cook
  • Alexander von Humboldt - The last five minutes of this lecture included a brief discussion of Humboldt's possible homosexuality. One of my daughter's asked a question about it, which I answered, and then we moved on. I don't think it added much to the lecture and you could easily just skip ahead a few sentences if you're prepared.
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Sir John Franklin
  • Ida Pfeiffer
  • Dr. Livingston and Mary Kingsley
  • A few at the end looking at the exploring extreme environments: Arctic, Antarctic, ocean depths, and space
Some of these are nice introductions to the corresponding descriptions in A Book of Discovery, providing some modern context and framing. (A Book of Discovery is recommended at Mater Amabilis™ ™for Level 3.) Shackleton's ill-fated expedition to cross Antarctica is also included, which is described so vividly in Endurance in Level 4.

The professor also makes the voyages relevant - how these explorations changed the world and helped create the one we live in today.

I listened to this course along with my children without listening to it ahead of time. As I mentioned above, there were really just a few sentences I wish I could have avoided. Though they weren't always entirely excited by the lectures, they mostly enjoyed them. First Son even remembered stories of Maui from an early lecture months later when we saw Moana. I didn't, but he did.

This is an excellent choice if you have an extra Audible credit or if you come across one of the Great Courses sale when you can get two courses for one credit.

I purchased this course using a credit, which I had received as a paying member of, an Amazon company. The links in this post are affiliate links, but the content is my honest opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!