Monday, August 31, 2015

Lectures To Paint By

Having a long, yet infrequent commute, I need something to help pass the time on those long, early morning/late afternoon five hour drives to and from Seattle.  Since discovering The Teaching Company's Great Courses lectures thanks to my gaming friend Scott, the commute has been much more interesting and time passes more quickly.

At present, I have churned through six courses, the latest being The Peloponnesian War by Dr. Kenneth Harl of Tulane University.  In 36 half-hour lectures and primarily relying on Thucydides, Harl takes the listener from the causes of the war through its conclusion including a summarization of lessons to be learned from the war.
Harl weaves an entertaining and fascinating story of the conflict with his own insights and personal interpretations intermixed with the traditional viewpoints.  Harl studied under Donald Kagan and frequently Kagan and his works are mentioned within the lectures.  As I listened, I thought it might be worthwhile to check Kagan's narrative against Harl's.

Kagan's The Peloponnesian War was purchased at a Friends of Multinomah Library (Portland, OR) book sale a few years ago for a few dollars.  Like a number of books in my library, it sits unread.  Off the shelf comes Kagan as my thoughts turn towards tackling this massive work.
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These audio lectures are not only useful for long commutes.  I have found these lectures to be the perfect accompaniment to solitary painting sessions in the game room.  As a side benefit, listening to these historical works provides painting motivation and contemplations on existing or possible new projects.  So far, no Peloponnesian project has made it onto my project list yet.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks Jon for sharing thhis post - I think I may buy The Peloponnesian War set by Dr. Kenneth Harl too!

    I have Donald Kagan book and read it a few times - and loved it!

    Professor Kagan describes the events that lead up the Peloponnesian War: here is a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMlkvfFJYPo

    cheers,

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    1. I appreciate your Kagan recommendation and the YouTube link.
      Kagan has moved a few books higher in the book pile.

      For the Great Courses, one note; never buy them at full price. Courses are rotated through a 70% or more discounting so the Peloponnesian War is bound to be on sale soon.
      Thanks!

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    2. your right Jon,
      $275 - $365 is outrages to buy the Peloponnesian War by Dr. Kenneth Harl DVD-CD sets...I think I may give it a miss or sell my Napoleonic Saxons? :o)

      cheers,

      Delete
    3. Yes, NEVER pay the sticker price! I bought my copy of the CD for $45 just last month. Please don't sell your Saxons!

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  2. I like the sound of these, a great way of spending commute time!

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    1. Indeed! If one MUST commute at least the time spent should count for something.

      Great to see you back!

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  3. There is nothing like a long drive, a cup of coffee and a good audiobook! I myself have pledged fidelity to Audible.com with their history section of +7.000 titles.

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    Replies
    1. I tried Audible.com briefly several years ago. It deserves another chance.

      Thanks!

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  4. A friend gave me a book on CD about ancient Alexandria, from its founding and up through the fall of the Roman Empire. I can't recall its name but I will look it up for you - 11 hours long, perfect for long cross country car trips

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    1. That would be most welcome and nearly a perfect length for the commute!
      Thank you.

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    2. "the Rise and Fall of Alexandria, Birthplace of the Modern Mind" by Justin Pollard and Howard Reid.

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    3. Thank you, Jim! I will look into this work.

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  5. That is a superb way to pass the long drive. BTW, are the fires/smoke causing any trouble for you?

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    1. The last two weeks have seen Spokane choked by smoke from the surrounding fires. The air quality returned to normal only yesterday.

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  6. Great minds paint alike! I use Audible to get my Great Lectures courses and Harl's lectures on the Vikings is a very good one.

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    1. Monty! You rarely write and you never call!
      Great to hear from you again.

      While painting, I have been on a steady diet of listening to NPR. That changed once I discovered the The Great Courses. Until now, I did not know The Great Courses were available via Audible.com. Thanks for the tip!

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  7. Sounds like a good idea for the 6 hr drive to Fredericklsburg every July; I usually play the sounnd tracks of all thee original Star Wars movies to keep me awake!

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    Replies
    1. Give them a try and you might get hooked! Can these lectures compete with Star Wars? You know, I have the album from the first one; Meco's Intergalactic Funk. Is that the one to which you listen?

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