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36 Books That Changed the World

36 Books That Changed the World

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36 Books That Changed the World

Course No. 9004
Taught By Multiple Professors
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Course No. 9004
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Course Overview

Since the development of written language, books have played a central role in our culture. They’ve entertained. They’ve instructed. They’ve inspired. But can a book actually change the course of history?

The answer is, resoundingly, yes. And now, with 36 Books That Changed the World, a fascinating Great Courses Collection crafted from our extensive library of courses, you can now get a riveting intellectual tour of the profound impact of books from thousands of years of history and from civilizations around the globe.

The Art of War, the King James Bible, The Origin of Species, and other works of literature, history, science, philosophy, political theory and religion offer powerful examples of how a single written work can spark revolutions, birth great world religions, spur scientific advancements, shape world economies, teach us new ways of thinking, and so much more.

In the company of an unparalleled roster of award-winning professors from a range of disciplines, you’ll get fresh perspectives on books you only thought you knew—and intriguing introductions to some works you may not have known played key roles in getting us to where we are today.

Deep Dives into a Diversity of Great Books

Carefully curated by our subject matter experts, 36 Books That Changed the World takes you between the lines of a diversity of written works, including novels, epic poems, sacred texts, political treatises, reference books, and more.

You’ll get an expert’s take on books long and short, ancient and modern, fiction and nonfictional.

  • The Analects: Collecting the philosophies of the great Eastern philosopher Confucius, The Analects is the single most important book in Chinese history. Learn how this book’s insights became the backbone of Chinese ethics and politics for thousands of years.
  • A Dictionary of the English Language: Explore how Samuel Johnson’s reference book undeniably altered the English vocabulary you use every single day.
  • The Feminine Mystique: Published in 1963, Betty Friedan’s book radically reshaped the role of women in contemporary society and even changed how women thought of themselves. Take a fascinating look at the history of this great social text and its noted author.

Rediscover the Power of the Printed Word

With 36 Books That Changed the World, you’ll spend more than 15 hours in the company of some of the most insightful and engaging (and even witty) professors The Great Courses has ever worked with. Each lecturer uses his or her wealth of knowledge and years of teaching experience to give you a three-dimensional look at revolutionary books you can’t get by simply reading academic introductions or footnotes.

If you’ve taken another course with these professors before, get a reminder of just why you enjoyed them. And if you’ve never heard some of them before, who knows? You may just discover your next favorite Great Courses professor.

More than that, you’ll rediscover just how powerful the printed word can be. You’ll learn that the mark of a truly great book isn’t that it changes the lives of individual readers—but that it affects entire civilizations.

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36 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Epic of Gilgamesh
    How many stories have you read that start with a hero embarking on an epic quest? It’s a narrative structure that unites civilizations around the world and across time. And the earliest example we have of it is the Epic of Gilgamesh. What makes this ancient work - which dates back to around 2800 B.C.E. - so crucial to the subsequent history of world literature? In what ways does it serve as a blueprint for everything from Virgil’s Aeneid to Finnegans Wake? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and others in this captivating lecture. This lecture is from The History of World Literature by the award-winning Dr. Grant L. Voth, Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College in California. x
  • 2
    The Odyssey
    Western literature (and culture) is forever indebted to the treatment of heroism and hospitality found in Homer’s Odyssey - so indebted, in fact, that the poem is considered the foundation of the Western literary canon. Who was Homer? What archaeological evidence supports this ancient adventure story? And how does it reflect what’s included in - and excluded from - lists of important literary works? You’ll find the answers in this illuminating lecture. This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. x
  • 3
    The Bhagavad Gita
    Mahatma Gandhi. Ralph Waldo Emerson. These are just two of the many great minds who have been inspired by the Bhagavad Gita, a landmark text in Asian intellectual history. In this lecture, you’ll discover how this beloved work of Hindu scripture became so renowned in Asia - and across the globe - and how it still speaks to us about effective action, family obligations, personal fulfillment, spiritual values, and more. This lecture is from Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition by the award-winning Dr. Grant Hardy, Professor of History and Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Asheville. x
  • 4
    The Art of War
    Though written well over 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has influenced generations of warriors, statesmen, and other leaders. What makes this fascinating piece of ancient military strategy so enduring - and so historically relevant? You’ll find out in this lecture, which will whet your appetite for a short, spare book that offers captivating lessons on how to win important battles. This lecture is from Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers by Dr. Andrew R. Wilson, Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College. x
  • 5
    The Analects
    Confucius is undoubtedly Eastern intellectual history’s greatest mind. And yet we have no record of any of his own writings. What we do have is The Analects, a collection of Confucius’s sayings written down by his students. This great book offers a fascinating window into moral, social, and political ideas that would become the backbone of everyday life in China for thousands of years. This lecture is from Religions of the Axial Age: An Approach to the World’s Religions by religious studies expert and award-winning professor Mark W. Muesse of Rhodes College. x
  • 6
    The Histories
    With the Histories, the Greek writer Herodotus sought to recount the Greco-Persian Wars that tore apart the ancient world decades before his birth. His technique was to explain the causes of historical events in a narrative manner. The end result was a work that would inform how generations of writers record the past and how readers make sense of it. In this lecture, you’ll meet the man now considered to be the father of history. This lecture is from Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition, by Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, an expert classicist and award-winning professor at Whitman College. x
  • 7
    The Republic
    Plato’s Republic is a blueprint for his grand political philosophies. It also marks the first time this iconic philosopher set forth the idea of power as a noble enterprise. In this lecture, you’ll learn more about Plato’s theories on justice and the creation of a good state. Your windows into these theories are the intriguing parable of the ship of state and the famous allegory of the cave. This lecture is from Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition, by Dr. Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. x
  • 8
    The Nicomachean Ethics
    What is happiness? How does one live a “good” life? These are questions that have perplexed countless philosophers throughout history. And the first work to propose solid answers that would influence later thinkers is Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This lecture provides you with an in-depth reading of Book X, one of the most critical parts of this masterpiece of ancient philosophy. This lecture is from Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Dr. Robert C. Bartlett, the Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies at Boston College. x
  • 9
    The Metamorphoses
    Some of the greatest sources of inspiration in Western art history are classical myths. And our complete (and sometimes only) account of the stories that fueled so many sculptures and paintings is Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In this lecture, you’ll explore what sort of book the Metamorphoses is, what it was meant to do for its original readers, and why Ovid took such pains to record the stories of Apollo, Phaethon, Narcissus, and others. This lecture is from Classical Mythology by Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, an expert classicist and award-winning professor at Whitman College. x
  • 10
    The Meditations
    Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher king whose writing would go on to inspire future generations. Written in Greek and addressed to himself, the Meditations are a fascinating window into the business of ruling an empire during a time of constant turmoil. This book also offered subsequent leaders grand insights into the morals that shaped this Roman emperor’s iconic rule - and that could shape their own. This lecture is from Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists by award-winning professor Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University. x
  • 11
    The Confessions
    One of the key texts of Christian theology is the Confessions by Saint Augustine. Christian writers as diverse as Dante Alighieri and Martin Luther - not to mention everyday believers - have looked to this autobiography for guidance and inspiration. The legacy of this intimate journey from sin to faith has lasted for over 15 centuries. This lecture is an engaging survey of how - and why - the Confessions endures to this day. This lecture is from St. Augustine’s Confessions and is delivered by two instructors from the State University of New York at Geneseo: Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History; and Dr. Ronald B. Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English. x
  • 12
    The Quran
    As the sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an is a daily part of life for more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. What do some of its most important and beloved chapters, or surahs, say? What is the book’s relationship to people and themes originally recorded in the Old and New Testaments? What are some of the book’s original scriptural claims, and can they adapt to a postmodern age? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and others in this intriguing lecture. This lecture is from Sacred Texts of the World by the award-winning Dr. Grant Hardy, Professor of History and Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Asheville. x
  • 13
    The Liber abaci
    Imagine if you lived in a world that still used Roman numerals in everyday transactions. The reason you don’t is because of the Liber abaci, which replaced Roman numerals with the Hindu-Arabic number system that is still in use today. This influential book also had a profound impact on the economy of the Middle Ages and paved the way for future developments in banking, commerce, and even mathematics. This lecture is from Turning Points in Medieval History by medievalist and professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University. x
  • 14
    The Divine Comedy
    It’s a sometimes horrifying, sometimes breathtaking tour through the Christian afterlife. It’s a groundbreaking work of literature that has inspired other great Western authors. It’s a watershed moment in the development of poetry and the Italian language. It’s Dante’s Divine Comedy, and its intimate visions of hell, purgatory, and heaven still resonate with believers and nonbelievers today. This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. x
  • 15
    The Prince
    Like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince is a history-changing book that is still studied today. Written in voluntary exile from Florence, The Prince served as a powerful manual for people looking to attain - and hold on to - political power. In this lecture, you’ll explore the history behind Machiavelli’s short masterpiece. You’ll also learn how he responds to - and sometimes unravels - the ideas of earlier political philosophers. This lecture is from Machiavelli in Context by Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo. x
  • 16
    On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs
    One of the defining moments in the history of science was Copernicus’s assertion that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the cosmos. The topic of this lecture is the book that introduced this radical idea to the world: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs. In this lecture, you’ll take a closer look at Copernicus’s iconic exploration of heliocentrism, and you’ll learn how this concept was received by his intellectual contemporaries. This lecture is from History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 by Dr. Lawrence M. Principe, the Drew Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. x
  • 17
    Hamlet
    Western literature would never be the same after William Shakespeare. And in a catalog of the Bard’s most definitive works, his tragedy, Hamlet, is at the top. An essential part of the Western canon, Hamlet is intricately linked with European history, the rise of Elizabethan England, and the evolution of poetry and drama. In this lecture, you’ll discover why no list of influential books is complete without Shakespeare’s masterpiece. This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. x
  • 18
    Don Quixote
    Don Quixote is considered the Western world’s first novel, introducing a literary form we still engage with today. But is this novel’s claim as being the first of its kind really true? How do its adventures offer biting commentary on chivalric romances? How does it anticipate the complexities of the modern novel? As you’ll discover in this lecture, there’s much more to this fascinating book than meets the eye. This lecture is from Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition, by Dr. Ronald B. Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo. x
  • 19
    The King James Bible
    The King James Bible was a political wedge in Reformation England. It’s a stunning work of literary beauty. It has become the authorized version of Christianity’s sacred text. It’s the most-read book in the history of English literature. The world would not be the same without it. In this lecture, you’ll learn how this work was compiled and translated - and you’ll meet the forgotten individual some believe to be responsible for its existence. This lecture is from Classics of British Literature by Dr. John Sutherland, the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology. x
  • 20
    The New Organon
    Knowledge is power. Natural philosophy must be separate from theology. New facts should be acquired through deductive logic. These are some of the themes found in Francis Bacon’s The New Organon, which revolutionized how philosophers and scientists studied the world. It also changed the face of Western education, which was previously founded on Aristotle’s methods, and helped usher in a new era of intellectual thought. This lecture is from Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition, by Dr. Alan Charles Kors, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. x
  • 21
    The Encyclopedie
    A fundamental pillar of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. This comprehensive reference guide was a daring project. Not only did it aim to change the way people thought, but it also fueled the Enlightenment’s ability to replace tradition and faith with reason and science. In this lecture, you’ll get the full story on the reference book that changed history forever. This lecture is from Turning Points in Modern History by expert historian and award-winning professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. x
  • 22
    A Dictionary of the English Language
    When you’re unsure of a word’s spelling or meaning, your first impulse is to find the nearest dictionary. Because of this, we’re forever indebted to Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1755. How is this reference work a testament to Johnson’s views on linguistic flexibility? How is it a work of autobiography as much as a work of lexicography? You’ll discover the answers to these questions and others in this illuminating lecture. This lecture is from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition, by award-winning author and noted professor Seth Lerer of the University of California, San Diego. x
  • 23
    Common Sense
    Thomas Paine was one of the American Revolution’s least likely heroes. Yet his best-selling pamphlet, Common Sense, redirected the course of the debate over independence in the American colonies. Without his arguments, there may never have been a “shot heard round the world.” In this lecture, you’ll learn why Paine’s remarkable work occupies - and deserves - such a unique place in political history. This lecture is from Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America by noted author, literary expert, and award-winning professor Peter Conn of the University of Pennsylvania. x
  • 24
    The Wealth of Nations
    Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is considered one of the key texts of modern capitalism. It is central to our understanding of how competitive markets work. It also has been a reference point for many of the world’s most influential economic minds. In this lecture, you’ll examine some of the arguments and insights from this landmark book, as well as some of the historical moments that formed the backdrop of their writing. This lecture is from Thinking about Capitalism by award-winning author and professor Jerry Z. Muller of The Catholic University of America. x
  • 25
    The Federalist Papers
    With independence achieved, the next challenge for America’s Founding Fathers was creating a working constitution for the new nation. The Federalist Papers - assembled by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay - put forth powerful arguments for ratifying the Constitution. In this lecture, you’ll strengthen your appreciation for just how much these papers contributed to American history and political philosophy. This lecture is from The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, by Daniel N. Robinson, a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University. x
  • 26
    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    The idea of the self-made man is at the heart of the American dream. And it’s an idea that got its start with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. With this work, the United States was bequeathed its greatest myth: the success story. It’s a central ingredient of the nation’s history, and it would go on to inspire everyday individuals to take their lives into their own hands. This lecture is from Classics of American Literature by noted author and literary scholar Dr. Arnold Weinstein, the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. x
  • 27
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    Women are not inferior to men; instead, they’re made inferior by being denied essential tools, such as education. With this simple argument, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman set out to battle society’s maltreatment of women. In the process, she helped pave the way for subsequent human rights movements and strengthened the case for the power of the female authorial voice. This lecture is from Classics of British Literature by Dr. John Sutherland, the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology. x
  • 28
    Democracy in America
    The greatest book written about American democracy, it turns out, was written by a Frenchman. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is an intriguing examination of how our nation works. It played a role in introducing Europe to the political experiment that was the United States. It’s also a living work - one whose observations and insights challenge us to think not just about America in the 19th century, but also America today. This lecture is from Tocqueville and the American Experiment by Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo. x
  • 29
    The Communist Manifesto
    Many of the 20th century’s most potent revolutions were rooted in communism and socialism. And the leaders behind these powerful political ideologies were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In The Communist Manifesto, they put forth the need for the working class - the proletariat - to revolt against the harsh economic conditions of capitalist society. In this lecture, you’ll read between the lines of this groundbreaking book in an effort to uncover what made its contents so transformative. This lecture is from Thinking about Capitalism by award-winning author and professor Jerry Z. Muller of The Catholic University of America. x
  • 30
    Uncle Toms Cabin
    The debate over ending slavery in America reached a fever pitch in the years before the Civil War, thanks in part to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Even Abraham Lincoln credited Stowe’s work with playing a part in pushing a divided nation to war. In this lecture, you’ll examine this best-selling book from an intriguing new perspective - as a work that celebrates not just freedom from slavery, but also the ability of art and the imagination to break intimidating social bonds. This lecture is from Classics of American Literature by noted author and literary scholar Dr. Arnold Weinstein, the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. x
  • 31
    On the Origin of Species
    There’s the world before the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and there’s the world after it. Darwin’s ideas completely overturned our connection to the natural world. They were met with acceptance and controversy among his contemporaries. And they also were used in ways this iconic scientist would not have endorsed. Welcome to the Darwinian revolution - and the single book that started it all. This lecture is from Turning Points in Modern History by expert historian and award-winning professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. x
  • 32
    On Liberty
    In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argued for a society that actively encouraged and facilitated diverse ways of living and thinking. It was a dramatic, refreshing, and - for its time - radical manifesto. And its illuminating, and sometimes provocative, ideas about freedom, speech, diversity, and individuality would become the veritable lifeblood of healthy civil societies in the modern age. This lecture is from The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions by prolific author and professor Jay L. Garfield of Smith College. x
  • 33
    The Jungle
    Many of the developments in 20th-century America were the result of muckraking journalists who exposed life at the bottom of the social ladder. Prominent among these individuals was Upton Sinclair, whose book The Jungle brought to light the horrors of the nation’s meatpacking industry. As you’ll learn, it was Sinclair’s shocking exposé that paved the way for dramatic reforms in how food was mass-produced. This lecture is from Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America by noted author, literary expert, and award-winning professor Peter Conn of the University of Pennsylvania. x
  • 34
    Being and Time
    To ignore Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time is to ignore the beginning of 20th-century existentialism. Dealing with complex issues about angst, death, existence, and time, Heidegger’s work had a tremendous impact on generations of European students searching for the meaning and purpose of life. How does one begin to make sense of the book’s ideas and arguments? This lecture will help guide you through Being and Time’s perplexing - but undeniably intriguing - pages. This lecture is from The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida by Dr. Lawrence Cahoone, Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. x
  • 35
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    The realities of life in the Soviet Union’s labor camps opened the world’s eyes to the true horrors of the regime. And this revelation was all due to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This stirring book also introduced the world to the voice of a powerful critic of totalitarianism, one who would help show just how appallingly the Soviet Union could treat its citizens. This lecture is from Classics of Russian Literature by Dr. Irwin Weil, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University. x
  • 36
    The Feminine Mystique
    Published in 1963, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was a sweeping indictment of how postwar American women lived their lives. Women, the book argued, should have the right to actualize their own identities - not just live vicariously through their husbands and children. In this lecture, you’ll learn how Friedan’s life inspired this landmark book and how it sparked movements and organizations dedicated to abolishing discriminatory legislation. This lecture is from The American Identity by widely published author and award-winning professor Patrick N. Allitt of Emory University. x

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Your professors

Dennis Dalton Daniel N. Robinson Elizabeth Vandiver Seth Lerer J. Rufus Fears Brad S. Gregory Patrick N. Allitt Luke Timothy Johnson Joseph Koterski, S.J. David Roochnik Thomas F. X. Noble Leo Damrosch William R. Cook Ronald B. Herzman Kenneth J. Hammond Pamela Radcliff John E. Finn Joseph F. Kobylka Charles Kimball John M. Bowers Jerry Z. Muller Peter Conn Dorsey Armstrong Lawrence Cahoone Grant Hardy Andrew R. Wilson Daniel W. Drezner Thomas A. Shippey

Professor 1 of 28

Dennis Dalton, Ph.D.
Barnard College, Columbia University

Professor 2 of 28

Daniel N. Robinson, Ph.D.
Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University; Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Georgetown University

Professor 3 of 28

Elizabeth Vandiver, Ph.D.
Whitman College

Professor 4 of 28

Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego

Professor 5 of 28

J. Rufus Fears, Ph.D.
University of Oklahoma

Professor 6 of 28

Brad S. Gregory, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame

Professor 7 of 28

Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
Emory University

Professor 8 of 28

Luke Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Emory University

Professor 9 of 28

Joseph Koterski, S.J., Ph.D.
Fordham University

Professor 10 of 28

David Roochnik, Ph.D.
Boston University

Professor 11 of 28

Thomas F. X. Noble, Ph.D.
University of Notre Dame

Professor 12 of 28

Leo Damrosch, Ph.D.
Harvard University

Professor 13 of 28

William R. Cook, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Geneseo

Professor 14 of 28

Ronald B. Herzman, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Geneseo

Professor 15 of 28

Kenneth J. Hammond, Ph.D.
New Mexico State University

Professor 16 of 28

Pamela Radcliff, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego

Professor 17 of 28

John E. Finn, Ph.D.
Wesleyan University

Professor 18 of 28

Joseph F. Kobylka, Ph.D.
Southern Methodist University

Professor 19 of 28

Charles Kimball, Th.D.
University of Oklahoma

Professor 20 of 28

John M. Bowers, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Professor 21 of 28

Jerry Z. Muller, Ph.D.
The Catholic University of America

Professor 22 of 28

Peter Conn, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania

Professor 23 of 28

Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
Purdue University

Professor 24 of 28

Lawrence Cahoone, Ph.D.
College of the Holy Cross

Professor 25 of 28

Grant Hardy, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Asheville

Professor 26 of 28

Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.
U.S. Naval War College

Professor 27 of 28

Daniel W. Drezner, Ph.D.
Tufts University

Professor 28 of 28

Thomas A. Shippey, Ph.D.
St. Louis University
Dr. Dennis Dalton is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. He earned his B.A. from Rutgers University, his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Political Theory from the University of London. Professor Dalton has edited and contributed to more than a dozen publications and has written numerous articles. He is the author of Indian Idea of...
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Dr. Daniel N. Robinson is a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he has lectured annually since 1991. He is also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University. Professor Robinson earned his Ph.D. in...
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Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver is Professor of Classics and Clement Biddle Penrose Professor of Latin at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She was formerly Director of the Honors Humanities program at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she also taught in the Department of Classics. She completed her undergraduate work at Shimer College and went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. from The University of Texas at...
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Dr. Seth Lerer is the Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, San Diego. Before taking this position, he was the Avalon Foundation Professor in Humanities and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He also taught at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Lerer earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, a second B.A....
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Dr. J. Rufus Fears was David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he held the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. He also served as David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at the University of Oklahoma, Professor Fears was Professor of History and...
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Dr. Brad S. Gregory is Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Notre Dame. He earned a B.S. in History from Utah State University; a B.A. and Licentiate degree in Philosophy from the Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; an M.A. in History from the University of Arizona; and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Before taking his position at...
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Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt-an Oxford University graduate-has also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow. He was the Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching...
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Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Johnson earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale University, as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, an M.Div. in Theology from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Notre Dame Seminary in...
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A member of the Society of Jesus, Father Joseph Koterski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, where he specializes in the history of medieval philosophy and natural law ethics. Before taking his position at Fordham University, Father Koterski taught at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He earned his doctorate in Philosophy from St. Louis University, after...
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Dr. David Roochnik is Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, where he teaches in both the Department of Philosophy and the Core Curriculum, an undergraduate program in the humanities. He completed his undergraduate work at Trinity College, where he majored in philosophy, and earned his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Roochnik was awarded Boston University's Gitner Award in 1997 for excellence in teaching...
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Dr. Thomas F. X. Noble is Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his B.A. in History from Ohio University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval History from Michigan State University. Professor Noble has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and research grants from the American Philosophical Society. In 2008 he received the Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Excellence in...
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Dr. Leo Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature Emeritus at Harvard University, where he has been teaching since 1989. He earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University. At Harvard, Professor Damrosch was named a Harvard College Professor in recognition of distinguished teaching. He has held National Endowment for...
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Dr. William R. Cook is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1970. He earned his bachelor's degree cum laude from Wabash College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa there. He was then awarded Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Lehman fellowships to study medieval history at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D. Professor Cook teaches courses...
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Dr. Ronald B. Herzman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1969. He graduated with honors from Manhattan College and earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Delaware. Dr. Herzman's teaching interests include Dante, Chaucer, Francis of Assisi, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Arthurian literature. He has...
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Dr. Kenneth J. Hammond is Professor of History and Director of The Confucius Institute at New Mexico State University. He earned his B.A. from Kent State University and his graduate degrees from Harvard University-an A.M. in East Asian Regional Studies and a Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages. Professor Hammond's research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of China in the late imperial era from the 10th...
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Dr. Pamela Radcliff is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. She earned her B.A. in History from Scripps College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern European History from Columbia University. Professor Radcliff has been recognized by both the university faculty and her students for her outstanding teaching. In 1997, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt College Excellence in Teaching Award, and...
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Dr. John E. Finn is Professor of Government at Wesleyan University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Nasson College, his J.D. from Georgetown University, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton University. Professor Finn is an internationally recognized expert on constitutional law and political violence. His public lectures include testimony before the...
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Dr. Joseph F. Kobylka is Associate Professor of Political Science at Southern Methodist University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. He earned his B.A. in Government and History from Beloit College, graduating magna cum laude, and his Ph.D. in Political Sience from the University of Minnesota. Professor Kobylka has received numerous awards for teaching, including the Golden Mustang Award, M Award, Willis M. Tate...
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Dr. Charles Kimball is Presidential Professor and Director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Professor Kimball holds an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Th.D. from Harvard University in Comparative Religion with a specialization in Islamic studies. Before joining the University of Oklahoma, Professor Kimball taught for 12 years...
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Dr. John M. Bowers is Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He holds a B.A. from Duke University, an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he was also a Rhodes Scholar. Before joining the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Professor Bowers taught at the University of Virginia, Hamilton College, the California Institute of Technology, and...
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Dr. Jerry Z. Muller is Professor of History at The Catholic University of America, where he has taught since 1984. He earned his B.A. from Brandeis University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has been a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin; the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy; the Olin Foundation; the Bradley Foundation; and the American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Muller wrote...
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Dr. Peter Conn holds the Vartan Gregorian Chair in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education. Since 1993, he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Nanjing. Professor Conn earned his Ph.D. from Yale University. Professor Conn is the author of numerous works on American literature and culture, including The American 1930s: A Literary...
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Dr. Dorsey Armstrong is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she has taught since 2002. The holder of an A.B. in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Duke University, she also taught at Centenary College of Louisiana and at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include medieval women writers,...
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Dr. Lawrence Cahoone is Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 2000. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A two-time winner of the Undergraduate Philosophy Association Teaching Award at Boston University who has taught more than 50 different philosophy courses, Professor Cahoone is not only a skilled teacher, but also...
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Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has received a wealth of awards and accolades for both his teaching and his scholarship. At the University of North...
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Dr. Andrew R. Wilson is Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. He received a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University. An award-winning professor and an expert in both military history and strategic theory, Professor Wilson has lectured on Asian military history,...
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Dr. Daniel W. Drezner is Professor of International Politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He earned his B.A. in Political Economy from Williams College and his M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. Beyond academia, Professor Drezner served as an international economist in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of International Banking and...
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Dr. Thomas A. Shippey is Professor Emeritus at Saint Louis University, where he held the Walter J. Ong, S.J., Chair of Humanities. He holds a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Professor Shippey has published more than 100 articles, mostly in the fields of Old and Middle English language and literature, and he has a long-standing interest in modern fantasy and science fiction. He is a regular...
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Reviews

36 Books That Changed the World is rated 3.2 out of 5 by 9.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Labels exactly the contents. I always like the insights presented, the facts speak for themselves.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Don't agree all changed the world, but many did Of the 36 Books reviewed approx. 24 were excellent, 6 ok, and 6 below average.
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Smatterings These are smatterings from other courses, with numerous references to other lectures in the referenced series, which of course you didn't hear and can't go and listen to, without buying all the courses. jumping around from lecturer to lecturer makes it impossible to get into a flow of the lectures. I sent the course back
Date published: 2016-01-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A mixed bag It was, inevitably, variable since each book was presented by a different speaker. Some were unexpectedly interesting and enlightening, others fairly ordinary. It's not one of those Great Courses that I know I'll go back to again.
Date published: 2015-03-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Limited By Lack of Written Summary The lectures are informative and entertaining; however, the course value and impact are substantially reduced by the absence of a written course guide. I have found that reviewing the written summary following the lecture experience can greatly aid my learning by reinforcing the ideas presented in the lectures. In addition, seeing some of the significant names in print can facilitate searching for additional information, since I often can not be certain of the proper spelling of some of the names if I only hear them in the spoken lecture. Since these are recycled lectures from other courses, I wonder why the Teaching Company could not have recycled the written summaries which accompanied each lecture in its original presentation.
Date published: 2014-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sound resource to have in any library. NA
Date published: 2014-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from New format, great idea This is the first course I have bought in about a year. I really enjoy college lectures and most of these so far have been great, I am half way through. I like being able to enjoy a self contained presentation as opposed to a long series of presentations that depend on remembering the details of a previous disc.
Date published: 2014-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This needs a guide book I can see some value in selecting various professors/lectures to create a course. But there is an issue with the flow of such diverse presentations. Some refer to previous lectures in their course, and each is very different. This may not be a negative, but there is a need for written material...more than a quick introduction of the professor. But with no written guidelines, if one wants a reference to the core of each presentation, one must take quick and copious notes. The CD format lends itself to listening while doing something else. One can hardly take notes while driving! I will finish listening to an interesting concept when I have time to write, but would not order this format again without a some sort of written content.
Date published: 2014-10-04
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