Summary

How is it possible for the disciplines of cosmology, geology, anthropology, biology, and history to fit together? These 48 lectures answer that question by weaving a single story from accounts of the past developed by a variety of scholarly disciplines. The result is a story stretching from the origins of the universe to the present day and beyond, in which human history is seen as part of the history of our Earth and biosphere, and the Earth's history, in turn, is seen as part of the history of the universe.
Like traditional creation stories told by the world's great religions and mythologies, this lecture series provides a map of our place in space and time. But it does so using the insights and knowledge of modern science, as synthesized by a renowned historian. While you may have heard parts of this story before in courses on geology, history, anthropology, biology, cosmology, and other scholarly disciplines, Professor Christian provides more than just a recap of those disciplines. "Because of the scale on which we look at the past, you should not expect to find in it many of the familiar details, names, and personalities that you'll find in other types of historical teaching and writing," he explains. "For example, the French Revolution and the Renaissance will barely get a mention. They'll zoom past in a blur. You'll barely see them. Instead, what we're going to see are some less familiar aspects of the past. We'll be looking, above all, for the very large patterns, the shape of the past.
"Prepare yourself for a journey through time and across space, from the first moments of existence to the distant reaches of the far future.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 15-05-17

big history. big bang. big lecture

it's my third series of lectures on big history and I found them all difficult for precisely the reason the professor admits in the first lecture. we can't identify with those enormous periods of time over 13.7 billion years! and trying to explain such a vast subject over 48 lectures is overwhelming. I always find 48 lectures too much as it leads to a lot of repetition and it's true here as well. I found the beginning interesting then I started to lose the thread by lecture 30 thinking I had heard the information numerous times before. I skipped a few lectures and finally got some history I could relate too. the lack of names and dates renders all this history very obscure and abstract. I did learn some interesting facts but big history is not my type of history. it's all encompassing and doesn't seem to lead anywhere concrete which makes it hard to remember much of the information. it could have been more informative in just 24 lectures with more concise history that most us relate to. statistics about world population over millions of years is simply congesture and meaningless to the listener unless they have a pen and paper and writing it all down which most of us aren't doing. no more big history for me I'm afraid

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By M. A. Atkin on 27-07-14

Essential Reading for Humanity

What did you like most about Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity?

It provides an overview of Humans and their place in history in the larger context of our existence within the universe in a wonderfully accessible way.

What did you like best about this story?

It was compelling and fluidly delivered

What about Professor David Christian’s performance did you like?

He is a outstanding lecturer delivering enormous information I a wonderful way

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

Yes.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By John P. Gillespie on 01-09-13

The Big Picture of Big History

Where does Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was my first foray into The Great Courses series of lectures, but it certainly will not be my last.

What about Professor David Christian’s performance did you like?

Professor Christian provides a stellar overview of history in accessible and engaging language.

Any additional comments?

I began listening to this at the same time that I was reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I found a lot of reinforcement of ideas and details through both. If you are seeking a basic framework for understanding our universe, this is a great asset.

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22 of 24 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Carole T. on 13-10-14

Perfect Title for an Enlightening Experience

Thank you Great Courses!

I loved this listen! I bought it because I had read about Bill Gates' suggestion that this set of lectures be adapted for High School use. He thought it a brilliant new way of looking at the structure and content of the basic history course.

Well, I think he and Professor Christian are absolutely right. This course begins with the real beginning - progresses through the formation of our universe, our solar system, and our planet to the eruption of life, division of species, and, finally, the development of human civilizations.

It's all here and presented in a fascinating way. The Professor is a wonderful speaker, and his enthusiasm for this material is evident and contagious. My husband and I listened during many drives and found ourselves several times going out of our way to avoid arrival before a lecture ended!

I hope Gates can help encourage more school systems to consider "Big History" as a high school course. It's high time for a more inclusive approach to history.

"Big History" is a long trip, but it's a total pleasure. Embrace it!

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18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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