History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration

Course No. 3962
Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
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Course No. 3962
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Follow the Vivaldi brothers' fascinating - yet ill-fated - trip to India.
  • numbers Learn how explorers such as Leif Eriksson, Marco Polo, and Ibn Battuta redefined our world view.
  • numbers Follow explorers such as Lewis and Clark and Henry Hudson on their smaller scale - but no less dangerous - travels.
  • numbers Look at modern modes of exploration, including deep-sea dives and space odysseys.

Course Overview

Exploration is in our genes. Throughout history, one of the deepest human impulses has been the drive to explore, encounter, and know the unknown. This basic human longing can be traced all the way back to the most ancient origins of exploration over 60,000 years ago, when prehistoric wanderers first settled the globe. Today’s high rates of global tourism and mass migrations reflect continuity with the restless habits of our ancestors.

From ancient wayfarers to modern astronauts, a steady succession of intrepid individuals can take the credit for binding the continents together, connecting previously isolated peoples, and sparking a cross-fertilization of ideas, technologies, and even foods.

In creating new trade routes and initiating a commerce of ideas, explorers have played perhaps the most active role in shaping the globalized world. The trails they blazed were fraught with danger, as they contended with disease, starvation, mutiny, perilous weather, and even cannibals.

In History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration, you delve into the awe-inspiring, vast, and surprisingly interconnected tale of world exploration. Taught by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, an award-winning history professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, these 24 lectures shine a spotlight on some of the greatest and most influential explorers the world has ever known—successful as well as unsuccessful, admirable as well as flawed. You’ll be spellbound as you witness the treacherous, at times fatal, expeditions into the unknown these adventurers embarked upon, whether to the frozen Poles, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, the ocean’s depths, or the final frontier of space.

This course will revolutionize how you view the world by unveiling the process by which we came to know the far reaches of our planet. Throughout, you’ll examine the complex motivations behind these journeys, including religion, conquest, commerce, scientific discovery, and the overwhelming sense of wanderlust; and how voyages of discovery have inspired subsequent voyages—particularly when the preceding journey failed.

You’ll also discover the role that legends and myths have played in inspiring journeys, such as quests for places like the Northwest Passage; expeditions hunting for monsters and cannibals; and the pursuit of real or legendary individuals, such as Dr. Livingstone or Prester John, a mythical Christian king in Asia.

Gripping Stories of Risk and Rescue

Even those familiar with these voyages will find new insights to deepen their understanding of the historical reality, including how oftentimes, the reality of what was or wasn’t found turned out to be much more important than the original mission goals. You’ll be riveted as you follow explorers venturing into uncharted territory and putting themselves, and often their crews, in dire peril.

  • St. Brendan and his Irish monks: Driven by the desire to escape a tainted world, they set sail into the Atlantic on a legendary journey in a precarious leather boat.
  • Henry Hudson: After failing to find the Northwest Passage to Asia, Hudson’s crew staged a mutiny, setting him, his son, and several loyal sailors adrift on Hudson Bay, never to be seen again.
  • Sir John Franklin: Also failing to chart the Northwest Passage, Franklin and his crew mysteriously vanished, with theories of their disappearance ranging from lead poisoning, to bad food canning techniques, to cultural hubris, to cannibalism.
  • Alexander von Humboldt: Called “the greatest scientific traveler that ever lived” by Darwin, he left behind a life of prestige to chart South America.
  • David Livingstone: In the most famous PR stunt of the history of exploration, Henry Morton Stanley located the ill Livingstone in Tanzania, supposedly greeting him with the immortal phrase, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Your own journey begins with the amazing feats of pre-modern explorers, including the ancient Polynesian navigators and Pytheas the Greek, who worked without advanced technologies yet achieved epic results. From there, you trace the full trajectory of global exploration, concentrating on those explorers and expeditions that have had the most long-lasting impact on history.

  • Sail with Captain Cook as he maps vast unknown territories.
  • Circumnavigate the world with Ferdinand Magellan.
  • Dive into the Mariana Trench, miles beneath the ocean, with Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh.
  • Join Apollo 8 as its astronauts capture the space program’s most famous photograph, the 1968 “Earthrise.”
  • Track the perilous races to the North and South Poles by Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, and Sir Ernest Shackleton, among others. Discover lesser-known moments of the races, including when Italian pilot Umberto Nobile crashed in the arctic, unleashing a remarkable international rescue effort.

Through it all, you consider what drove these explorers, from proselytizing and pilgrimage to the lure of wealth, conquest, fame, and new lands, as evidenced by the Vikings’ arrival in North America; Marco Polo’s journey along the Silk Road to China; Christopher Columbus’s “Enterprise of the Indies”; the conquistadors’ ravages in Latin America; and the tiny kingdom of Portugal’s triumphant circumnavigation of Africa to seize control of trade in the Indian Ocean.

A Uniquely Global Perspective

In History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration, you not only get the adventurers’ points of view, but the discovered peoples’ perspectives as well. Rather than myopically focusing on Europeans, it also presents a meaningful portrait of the travels of non-Westerners, including:

  • Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang’s famous “voyage to the West” in search of holy scriptures in India;
  • Arab scholar Ibn Battuta’s 24 years of travel through the extensive Islamic world; and
  • Japan’s Iwakura mission to the West, which toured America, Europe, the Middle East, and China to gain scientific and political knowledge after centuries of isolation.

Along the way, you’ll meet several remarkable women who defied the conventions of society and made lasting contributions, like Ida Pfeiffer, an extreme traveler who ventured among Borneo headhunters, fought off Brazilian bandits, and collected scientific specimens for museums to fund her travels. You’ll also learn about Sacajawea, a Shoshone woman whose interpreting skills were crucial to Lewis and Clark as they charted the Louisiana Purchase.

Encounters between explorers and indigenous peoples are a recurring theme throughout—with interactions ranging from cordial greetings and a sense of affinity to reactions of extreme suspicion, violence, and accusations of cannibalism.

Despite such clashes, instances of assistance from locals are numerous. The extent to which explorers relied upon the specialized knowledge of locals is often pushed to the margins in the history of exploration, but it’s a truth that Professor Liulevicius brings into the spotlight.

Embark on a Thrilling Intellectual Journey

As a veteran professor of several top-rated Great Courses who is known for his extensive expertise, Dr. Liulevicius brings this survey to life with vivid detail. When experiencing the material on video, maps help you visually trace the journeys discussed and enhance the professor’s engaging storytelling.

The tales in History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration will help even familiar things such as spices take on new meaning, as you learn how deeply they have motivated centuries of explorers. Your own travels will also be enriched when viewed in the context of the generations of previous travelers who’ve blazed the path. You’ll see the world through an explorer’s eyes!

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Earliest Explorers
    Begin your journey with the Vivaldi brothers' ill-fated journey to India. What drove the brothers - or drives any explorer - to take a risk and venture into the unknown? Consider that question as you look at theories on how the Pacific islands became populated starting with an epic movement 7,000 years ago. x
  • 2
    The Scientific Voyage of Pytheas the Greek
    Meet the originator of scientific exploration, who trekked to the edge of the world so that he could see for himself what was there. Put Pytheas the Greek in the context of his time and place, sketching the Mediterranean as a cradle of civilization and examining how word of his voyage influenced later exploration. x
  • 3
    St. Brendan: The Travels of an Irish Monk
    Consider religious motivations for exploration. Men like the Irish monk St. Brendan - who sailed the Atlantic in a tiny leather boat - sought God and fled the world's corruptions, some searching for paradise and some merely for seclusion. Examine how legendary re-workings of such real adventures left a surprising legacy that would affect later exploration. x
  • 4
    Xuanzang's Journey to the West
    Alarmed at inconsistencies in the Buddhist texts available to him, Xuanzang embarked on an illegal holy pilgrimage to acquire authoritative teachings. See how, in the process of the monk's travels, he brought Buddhist traditions to the Confucian Chinese, achieved celebrity status, and became the central character in the greatest classical Chinese novel. x
  • 5
    Leif Eriksson the Lucky
    While the story of Leif Eriksson and the Vikings is relatively well known, Professor Liulevicius takes you deeper into the question of why the Vikings, or Norsemen, explored, as evidenced by their broader culture of adventure and values that pressed them onwards in often violent ways x
  • 6
    Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville
    Although traders had traveled the Silk Road since the Roman Empire, there was little awareness of what existed at the other end - until Marco Polo's accounts of China opened Europeans' eyes to a mysterious, advanced civilization. Start with background on the medieval world, then look closely at Polo's travels and legacy. x
  • 7
    Ibn Battuta: Never the Same Route Twice
    Examine the life and legacy of Ibn Battuta, who left Morocco in 1325 to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, but discovered a craving for spiritual travel and returned home 24 years later after covering 75,000 miles in the network woven by Muslim civilization." x
  • 8
    Portugal's Great Leap Forward
    How and why did tiny Portugal, a poor country, take to the seas, round the continent of Africa, hijack the Indian Ocean, and create a global empire? Find out here, with a look at Portugal's rise to superpower status, from Prince Henry the Navigator's call for exploration to Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to Asia. x
  • 9
    The Enigmatic Christopher Columbus
    Understand the complexities of Christopher Columbus who, in stumbling upon the Americas while attempting to reach Asia by heading West, touched off the massive Columbian Exchange of peoples, plants, commodities, and diseases. Dispel enduring myths, and explore Columbus's religious motives for launching what he called "The Enterprise of the Indies." x
  • 10
    Magellan and the Advent of Globalization
    Follow the path of Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, whose expedition in service of Spain became the first to circumnavigate the world, inaugurating our ability to think globally and accomplishing what Columbus had promised to do - reaching Asia by sailing west from Europe. See how his journey bound together the world economy, creating consequences down to our own times. x
  • 11
    The Ruthless Ambition of the Conquistadors
    Consider the most brutal of explorers, the conquistadors - Spanish military entrepreneurs including Cortes, Pizarro, and de Soto, who were not directly controlled by the monarchy, but royally sanctioned to seize wealth and lands in the New World. How did they topple civilizations using only a handful of men? What impact did they have on native societies? Find out here. x
  • 12
    Henry Hudson: Death on the Ice
    Switch gears from voyages of fruitful discovery to a tragic failure ending in mutiny, murder, and a mystery that endures to this day: Henry Hudson's 1610 voyage in search of the Northwest Passage to Asia, funded by two of the first multinational corporations. x
  • 13
    The Jesuits on a Global Mission
    Founded in 1540, the order of the Jesuits used global cultural exploration as a means to proselytize to local cultures across the world, from India and China to the Americas. Examine their controversial method of inculturation, and place the Jesuit project in the context of a larger intellectual shift towards cultural relativism. x
  • 14
    Captain Cook Maps the World
    Look closely at Captain Cook, an explorer who in many ways epitomized the age of scientific discovery, which lauded exploration for the sake of knowledge. See how his methods and voyages embodied new attitudes toward foreign peoples, and why it's what Cook didn't find that helped give us the complete world picture we have today. x
  • 15
    Alexander von Humboldt: Explorer Genius
    Learn how the scientific explorer Alexander von Humboldt - sometimes called a "second Columbus" - taught us to see the world as an interrelated ecological unit. Trace his five-year exploration of the Americas with French botanist Aime Bonpland, in which they covered 5,950 miles and catalogued 6,300 species of plants and animals. x
  • 16
    Jefferson Dispatches Lewis and Clark
    On President Jefferson's (originally secret) orders, the U.S. Corps of Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out to chart the new territories gained by the Louisiana Purchase, while recording its people, flora, and fauna. How did they cross Native American-occupied lands peacefully? What was the expedition's political significance? Find out here. x
  • 17
    Sir John Franklin's Epic Disaster
    Consider a tragic episode: the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in 1845 along with his crew while searching for the Northwest Passage. Compare theories on the fate of the men, and see how the mystery captured the imagination of Franklin's contemporaries, helping to create a culture of adventure. x
  • 18
    Ida Pfeiffer: Victorian Extreme Traveler
    Meet Ida Pfeiffer, a Victorian women who defied expectations by traveling around the world twice and becoming a best-selling author describing her experiences. Follow her extraordinary journeys to exotic locales and learn how she deftly escaped some perilous situations - including cannibalistic Batak warriors in the jungles of Sumatra. x
  • 19
    Japan Discovers the West
    Faced with Western imperialism after 200 years of self containment, Japan discovered the West through a series of exploratory diplomatic missions abroad to America and Europe towards the end of the 19th century. Which features of Western culture did they find worth emulating? Which unfamiliar Western practices did they reject? x
  • 20
    Dr. Livingstone and Mary Kingsley in Africa
    First, consider how the most famous PR stunt in the history of exploration - journalist Henry Stanley finding ailing Scottish explorer Dr. Livingstone in a remote town in Africa - reveals how Africa long remained the "Dark Continent" to the outside world. Then, turn to Mary Kingsley, an Englishwoman whose writing revealed West Africa to a European audience. x
  • 21
    Arctic Feats and Fates
    Who was first to make it to the North Pole? Wade into the debate while examining the fascinating but lesser-known moments and figures of the race, including pilot Umberto Nobile flying a hydrogen-filled semi-rigid airship over the Pole in 1926, then crashing on a second trip, unleashing an international rescue operation. x
  • 22
    Antarctic Rivalries
    Now, focus on the race to the South Pole and the bitter rivalries surrounding it. Witness how Norwegian Roald Amundsen outdistanced his rival, English explorer Captain Robert Scott, whose return voyage took a tragic turn. Then, follow the hardships of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose expedition to cross the punishing Antarctic also met disaster. x
  • 23
    A Deep-Sea Dive into the Mariana Trench
    Take a breathtaking look at a historic descent into the deepest place on earth - the Mariana Trench in the Pacific - by Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. But first, discover some of the highlights of ocean exploration in the centuries before this 1960 expedition. x
  • 24
    The Race to Outer Space
    Why have humans ventured beyond Earth? Does the future of space exploration lie with commercial interests? Is humanity's future in space? Consider these questions as you consider the past, present, and future of space exploration, starting with the moment Apollo 8's astronauts first witnessed earthrise on Christmas Eve 1968. x

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  • 168-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

About Your Professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford...
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Reviews

History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 73.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much trivia and digressions While my opinion is clearly in the minority, I cannot recommend this course. The problem , that many of Professor Liulevicius’s courses share, is that his lectures ramble. Much of his lectures are filled with obvious or irrelevant material. In this course, for example he digresses into an explanation of Christianity as if his students were a group of isolated Tibetan monks who happen not to have read anything about one of the world’s most prevalent religions. In his lecture on Humboldt he discusses Humboldt’s sexual preference as if this was relevant while ignoring many of Humboldt’s discoveries such as the Humboldt current. We hear about Edith Pfeiffer’s life before her travels, a subject that doesn’t seem in any way relevant or even interesting. On the way Professor Liulevicius does convey some useful information on well known expeditions and does lecture on some lesser known adventures. It is a shame that more time isn’t spent on these subjects and less on trivia. His overall theory that mankind has some innate drive to explore is really questionable. While a few individuals explored the world, once humanity had spread, the vast majority of humans never left their own settlements or regular areas of seasonal migrations. Perhaps my own view is somewhat distorted by having viewed or listened to numerous Great Courses that also cover the history of many explorations discussed by Professor Liulevicius. I can recommend his courses on WWI and Eastern Europe that are not duplicated by other courses and do utilize Professor Liulevicius’s special areas of expertise.
Date published: 2019-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wealth of Primary Sources I bought this almost a year ago and just finished it. I learned so much about the exploration of our planet. The photographs and quotes were meaningful and enlightening and the professor was eloquent and interesting. He posed questions to make me think and referred to previous lectures to compare and contrast motivations and experiences of the explorers. Several books were recommended and I can't wait to read them. What a great way to spend my precious time!!
Date published: 2019-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course Presentation This course was a very enjoyable overview of historical exploration. It was extremely well presented by Professor Liulevicius. Having viewed many Great Courses, this was truly a favorite.
Date published: 2019-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Of 65 courses, one I watch 8 episodes in 1 sitting Why is that? At 70+, I need a computer to keep track of all the courses & lectures I've heard in my life. I've been formally trained (and tested) in the 4 quadrants of brain psychology. This course is definitely a WHOLE-brained course - as opposed to spouting a list of boring FACTS which is prevalent with most monotone lecturers. Besides the facts, the good professor also hits on the MOTIVATION and personal feelings of those explorers. Yes, it takes real teaching skill to ALSO present the human aspect of putting us in their shoes to experience their joy, anguish, sorrows and exhilaration of their notable feats. I call this the "empathy teaching skill" as demonstrated by the frequent phrase "so what do you think about…" and "can you imagine…" Also rare (for a professor) is to tell the good, bad and the ugly side of a subject. Of the TGC courses I've bought on history, religion, politics or philosophy, I applaud this professor that has a teaching ability (that few have) who dares to dab their toe into - revealing the IMPACT (or effects) of those exploration (or philosophical) goals on the masses of people. Granted, some of that may be subjective - but I value their opinion (when stated as such). On that point (of their personal subjectivity) - there seems to be NO restraint when it comes to political bias - but totally TABOO (and ostracized) if it goes against their "herd mentality". For example, the course I bought on Power Over People; the professor talks about what the philosophers taught - but never talked about the IMPACT of those philosophies on the millions (or billions) of people of the world; and their good-bad RESULTS. Without stressing the IMPACT, I might as well listen to a lecture on "the anatomy of brass doorknobs versus bronze doorknobs". So what? The upper-left brainers interested in quarks, bosons & superstrings would likely prefer an endless list of boring historical facts in this course (of which they probably would remember 10%). If so, this course is NOT for you. However, if your passion is exploration (upper-right & lower-right brain), then likely this course IS for you. For sport, I was a world-class underwater videographer so I can relate to their exploratory passion: yes, those places become a "part" of the explorer that can't be explained adequately to others. Well done doc! Now I'm listening to the TGC course "Introduction to Nanotechnology". MY! What a surprise to see "voyages of exploration" in the most unexpected places.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Age of exploration! Great course for those who are interested or need to understand the Golden Age of Exploration and the impact on U.S. and World history.
Date published: 2019-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Hard-Working, Romantic Soul Teaches History I always look forward to a Liulevicius course. He loves the humanity of history. His soul is romantic and his associational cortex is a wonder of the world. Who else, in the first minutes of an introductory lecture is capable of correlating history, DNA, and philosophy with global GDP? Liulevicius works hard to find insight in unexpected places. For example, in L2, he brings to our attention another ancient eastern African coast expedition after Hatshepsut’s 15th century BC expedition along the mid eastern African coast. This was a 7th century BC fleet that went south from the Arabian Gulf to circumnavigate Africa. He disagrees with doubters about the expedition (like Herodotus) because of the expedition’s observation that, after sailing far enough south and turning west, the sun was on their right. Since, that’s astronomically correct, Liulevicius convincingly raises the possibility of a continuum of Egyptian-African interaction. There are so many stories, excellently told. The story of Pytheas the Greek traveling (~330 BC) to the end of known trade routes to Land’s End, Cornwall is simply fun. Next he traveled north ending up in the Scottish Orkneys watching strange unearthly 50-foot tides, unexplainable before moon-gravitational tides were understood. For Sci-Fi fans, the scene brought to mind a British otherworldly "Dr. Who" style adventure. And so it goes. From unexpected explanations of the term “monster”; to the integration of Buddhist texts by Xuanzang during his the amazing 15,000 mile journey; the origin of the term "viking" as an adverb and its motivations by the Norse concept of “man's threefold nature"; the cranberries of Vinland; the amazing 75,000 mile trek of the 14th century Islamic judge Ibn Battututa from the safety of the vast ummah of Dar al-Islam (the “house of Islam”) extending from Spain, Africa, India and Chinese ports) to much of the rest of the known world. There are more serious topics. One helped me come to grips with the religious aggressiveness of the Spanish New World explorers. Liulevicius (L8) shows us that long before 1492, an Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula occurred in the 8th century. The Reconquista finally shook off the Moors 700 years later in, yes, 1492 - possibly explaining why Columbus himself (L9) was motivated to fight the Antichrist he identified with Islam. The Spanish had long experienced the Islamic choice of conversion or life in highly taxed “no future” work. On entering the New World (L11), the conquistadors gave natives the choice of Christianity or slavery: demands closely paralleling those made on their Iberian forefathers but sharpened by 700 years of anguish. There is so much more. L13 nicely illustrates the intersection of Europeans with Native Americans led to an intellectual shift cause by the discovery of cultural relativism. L15’s exposition of natural complexity theory by the polymath Alexander von Humboldt is a welcome reminder that later “specialization" has sadly shelved Humboldt's non-linear integrative methods with binary age linear showmanship. Carefully read, L20’s late 1900s dates of encroachment of Europeans into central Africa upend years of misdirected racial disharmony. L20’s Mary Kingsley's story is simply a hoot for adventure freaks. There is much more here that can be read on many levels. Liulevicius is one of the few lecturers who can match entertainment with depth in a way helpful to nearly everyone.
Date published: 2019-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellently presented history course Professor Liulevicius is very well organized and his courses well researched. I have enjoyed several he has with The Great Courses. In fact, I bought it partly because he was giving the course. He is not too wordy, but not dull either. And his voice is also well modulated. I have reached the age where someone whose voice drops off is a problem for me to hear.
Date published: 2019-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Creative, informative, and very well done This is a creative, interesting, and relevant course—one of the handful my wife and I have watched that are not simply competent presentations of straightforward, usual subjects, but rather the stitching together of multiple topics and historical events into an innovative and highly original synthesis. [The others would include, for example, Wysession’s “Greatest Geological Wonders” (1712), Albala’s “Cultural Culinary History” (9180), Shippey’s “Heroes and Legends: (2192), and Ressler’s “Everyday Engineering” (1116).] Liulevicius is an exceptionally effective presenter: poised, articulate, knowledgeable, interesting both to watch and to listen to, and devoid of distracting mannerisms or eccentricities. Included are many of the “voyages” ones one would expect (e.g., Columbus, Magellan, Cook), but he also adds a number of surprises (e.g., Marco Polo, the Jesuits, Lewis & Clark, Ida Pfeiffer, and Japan’s 1870s Iwakura mission to the West), that were either not exactly “voyages” or were at least unknown to me. He also includes great explorations originating in Asia (Xuanzang) and the Middle East (Ibn Battuta), plus the first “voyages” to the polar regions, the deepest sea, and space. Very enjoyable, and I learned a lot.
Date published: 2018-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from must listen for Audible history Great Courses fan This was absolutely enthralling and I can't imagine a Great Courses history lover who wouldn't enjoy this. The professor is an enjoyable and animated lecturer. The most compelling part was the material - the choice of stories, the progression of exploration, the different types of explorers considered, and the balanced view of the choices and consequences. Just fascinating. The other aspect I enjoyed was that each lecture was fairly self-contained, so if you are listening while commuting, before bed, etc. you can hear a complete story and not be too bothered by interruptions. This would also be a fun one to listen to on a long trip, imagining yourself as a modern explorer.
Date published: 2018-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super fun Broadened my understanding of how exploration is the basis of history - very well presented - highly recommend
Date published: 2018-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I loved the presenter's enthusiam and ability to create the backdrop of these fantastic explorations. The presenter is great and the stories very compelling. Well worth it!
Date published: 2018-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Information I was transported to the different places that the professor described in detail! I enjoyed this course very much and the professor reveals his knowledge and love of this subject of exploration!
Date published: 2018-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun Journey Just finished the last session last night and have enjoyed the entire course. The lectures were informative and well presented. There was enough use of images and maps that kept my attention. The lecturer had well laid out thoughts and I enjoyed his presentation style. Would recommend
Date published: 2018-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from informative Such an enjoyable class. I find myself sharing things I've learned from it for fun. and a great teacher!
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from like taking the trips yourself This course is a true delight. The professor is an incredible story teller who makes history come alive. You feel like you are right there in the most exotic places, with fearless explorers and adventures. I also adore the professor´s other courses and am hoping for more to come!
Date published: 2018-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling! This was our 10th Great Courses and we liked the best of all! Covered so many voyages and explorers we had never heard of in school. The professor goes into great detail, so we almost felt like we were on the voyage ourselves, especially the arctic and antarctic voyages. We could almost feel the cold and sense the despair and danger the men were in. A wealth of material was included. It must have taken him a very long time to research and write it. We loved how he also included art, literature, poetry, and quotes from historians and the explorers themselves. Professor is passionate about the topic and is an excellent story-teller.He spoke of the 1960's space race with the excitement we who were alive then felt at the time, even though he probably had not been born yet. Highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2018-01-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Storytelling! In this long series of 24 lectures, Professor Viejas Liulevicius presents various voyages of discovery, ranging from those to prehistoric Polynesia to recent ones to outer space. His approach is that of eager description, usually geared no doubt for an audience of undergraduates. He assumes little a priori knowledge on their part and deems it pertinent to point out for instance that the Buddha means the “Enlightened One” or that the prefix “von” signals nobility. He feigns to be totally uncritical of his sources and seems for example to take the assertions of Herodotus as fact. He throws in legendary elements, identified as such, as well as pointless references to hoaxes such as the discovery of “Phoenician” tablets in Tennessee. Voyages are presented in a general chronological order. There is no other apparent organization of the material and no links between voyages, except for a “teaser” at the end of each lecture regarding the next one. The only analytical conclusions border on platitudes, such as “new discoveries generate further exploration”. Though the series is light on analysis and short on hard facts, it is saved to some extent by its entertainment value and Professor’s Liulevicius’ juvenile enthusiasm.
Date published: 2018-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Presentation I have long had an interest in the famous explorers (e.g., Magellan, Columbus, Balboa, de Gama, Hudson, etc.) but only knew the basics as taught in elementary school and high school. This course presented a much more inclusive and more fascinating picture of mankind's quest to seek new places and cross over known boundaries.
Date published: 2018-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good I don't want it to end! This is the second course I have bought that is taught by Professor Liulevicius (I'll call him Prof L from here on), and I got it because the first was so good (History of Eastern Europe). This one certainly hasn't disappointed. Some of the voyages have been familiar, but most of them haven't. What I most love about Prof L's approach is the rich new depths of historical understanding he imparts in a manner that he makes look easy. He's an engaging lecturer, and as soon as I finish this course, I'm going to look for other courses he has produced. How can I praise the diversity enough? Yesterday I learned about a little old Victorian Viennese woman's style of confronting cannibals and winning them over; today I learned about how the Japanese visited all the great imperial cultures in the late 19th century to (successfully) decide how to avoid the fate of the rest of the colonized world. I see that Prof L is planning to end the course with "The Race to Outer Space." I don't want to end! I hope some others of you will love this as much as I do!
Date published: 2017-07-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Venture into the Unknown These rousing stories of heroism and egoism, adventure and peril, greed and disaster at the stuff that I loved reading about as a child. My love affair with the Age of Exploration began in my fifth grade class, where the other students and I dressed up as history’s famous explorers and created a wax museum in our school’s cafeteria. Watching “History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration” brought me back to when I studying the voyages of Ferdinand Magellan. These figures were not only brave but intelligent men and women who all had a goal and set out to achieve it. There was a good smattering of explorers featured in this course. The best lectures are on the ones that are not as widely known as Columbus or Magellan. Some of the highlight explorers include Alexander von Humboldt, perhaps the greatest scientist explorer of all time; Mary Kingsley, an unconventional Victorian woman who introduced the British to the wonders of Africa, and Ibn Battuta, a North African muslim who traveled all over the known world from Morocco to Persia and India and back again over the course of twenty four years. The Columbus lecture is a very thought-provoking one, because Professor Liulevicius This course works best if your purchase it in the video format. There are many images that are used and the maps are particularly helpful in mapping the journey that the explorers take to reach their goal. Overall, History’s Greatest Voyages of Exploration is a fun an exciting course the shows you that the urge to move and discover is part of what makes us human. We will never cease to explore and this course shows you how and why.
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good series Rather than just a chronological history of exploration, this course addresses different kinds of exploration -- not just who explored what, but with what motivation and for what purpose. In some of the earlier lectures in particular, I wondered why this topic or person was included in the series, and I was 5 lectures in before this course really grabbed me. After that I really enjoyed it. The video format was helpful since it provided maps, which the guidebook did not.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Discovering the Discoverers Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is one of my favorite TGC profs, and he has come through again with a fine example of what I refer to as a TGC “elective” – not a core course, but one that enhances what the student already knows about history. Most of us learned about the great European explorations of the 15th-18th centuries, but didn’t hear about Pytheas the Greek, Xuanzang, Ibn Battuta, or the later pioneers Alexander von Humbolt, John Franklin, or Ida Pfeiffer. Prof. Liulevicius gives us a review of old acquaintances plus many new ones, taking us through the 20th century, as humans broke barriers at the poles, under the sea, and in space. I highly recommend the video version of the course, because of the many illustrations and maps that enhance the lecture content. The handbook provides a good overview of each lecture, with suggestions for further reading. I enjoy the Prof’s easy-going presentation, and his enthusiasm for the subject. He inspired me to do further reading on the subject. (So far I’ve read the accounts of John Mandeville and St. Brendan, and have downloaded a couple more.)
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this course I have purchased over 15 courses over the years. Usually I watch a few lectures and then come back to it. This course, I finished all the lectures within about a week because they were so interesting. I loved how the professor highlighted a few lesser known explorers. Highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Short on important historical facts I have read many books on a number of the explorations covered in this course, so I know that this professor skipped some very important facts in these chapters. Liulevicius wastes so much time in the lectures reciting poetry and quoting Shakespear, when he should be concentrating on important historical facts. Also, he used very few graphics and maps, and the ones that he did use were really poor! Professor Liulevicius would be better served to teach liberal arts courses instead of history!!! I hate returning merchandise of any kind, but I really feel like I should send this one back for a refund.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Presentation of Fascinating Lives This is a fine presentation of many fascinating lives and explorations. Of course not everyone could be discussed, but most of the obvious big names are here, from Leif Eriksson and Marco Polo to Columbus and Dr. Livingstone. I found the two lectures on Arctic and Antarctic explorations to be particularly fascinating, perhaps because I was least familiar with these. I was particularly sorry, however, that the great Chinese admiral Zheng He (a.k.a Cheng Ho) was given short shrift, mentioned in just a few sentences in another's lecture. He richly deserved his own. As others have noted, the level of detail is relatively basic, as is necessary for such a brief overview - 30 minutes per explorer or region. If you are quite familiar with an individual or period, you may learn little new. But for most of us, I think, the course will be informative and interesting. Prof. Liulevicius does an excellent job in most of the lectures. He is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and organized. I do wish he had avoided simplistic assessments and facile pronouncements, however. In most lectures these are only occasional, but they fill the final lecture (e.g. "To explore by choice is a great gift of freedom and answers some deep call within human nature"), making it the only one which I found pretty much worthless. The visuals on the DVD were quite interesting, but little information would be lost taking the audio. The Course Guidebook is adequate, with a brief, and briefly annotated, bibliography, but (of course) contains no timeline, glossary, or index, and very few illustrations. So - I recommend this course to all with an interest in the area, with the understanding that the subjects are chosen somewhat arbitrarily, and the level of detail and analysis is not profound.
Date published: 2016-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a fun way to explore history through the journeys presented in these lectures.
Date published: 2016-10-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great topic; poorly presented We were excited to begin this course, looking forward to detailed information about fascinating explorers. The detail was wonderful, but the lecturer's style detracted significantly from our experience. His expression, his over-emoting made this seem too much a performance. The information was valuable, but if this were a college lecture, I would have left the class and looked at someone else's notes.
Date published: 2016-10-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining and well presented but not much new Great presentation skills and interesting material. But an awful lot of it felt like an update to what I learned in 5th grade about the great explorers. The lesser known explorers like Alexander von Humboldt and the mythical and early Asian explorers were more informative. This creates a problem though in that, for example, covering St Brendan, the Irish monk, doesn't ring with the same level of factual certainty as the material on Shackleton's voyages. So the course feels like a mix of mythology and history and it isn't always easy to distinguish which is which. Most of the European explorers of the new world and of the Arctic and Antarctic are covered about as well in public school, in terms of depth of the content. So I was a bit disappointed that i didn't learn more. But I enjoyed the sweeping overview and am not sorry i bought it. Just don't expect great new insights in to Henry Hudson's, Christopher Columbus', Magellan's etc voyages if you covered any of these explorers in your school career. I realize that you can't NOT cover these household names in a course on explorers, but perhaps more emphasis on dispelling myths for these well known explorers would make the content fresher. To be fair, there is quite a bit of myth busting. And the professor spends some time on the impact of the explorers on their societies. That's the kind of content that is constantly being debated and updated by historians. So I found that very useful and wish there had been more on the consequences of the voyages..Overall worth a watch, but didn't change my thinking about the history I knew coming in to the course.
Date published: 2016-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wide range of explorers, well presented. Video download Dr Liulevicius' HISTORY'S GREATEST VOYAGES OF EXPLORATION is a fun romp through a string of biographies illustrating the importance of "exploration" in our historical development. But what defines exploration? Most of us love to travel. As long as safety is insured, we all aspire to create treasured memories in exotic lands. We also appreciate coming back. Our routines aren't so bad after all. Exploration, as Liulevicius defines it, goes well beyond that. It's travel on steroids. The focus of his course are individuals who risked their lives on various quests lasting months or years to capture something special — wealth, religious salvation, scientific knowledge, foreign know-how or endurance records. What you end up with may be a bag of apples and oranges, but it is great fun nevertheless. __________________________ PROS • Liulevicius is a good raconteur. Most of his lessons cover extremely adventurous lives. • Even so, he does not shy away from pointing out underlying, more abstract, social trends. Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, for example, collected weird facts, partly because the men transcribing their memoirs emphasized them. Captain Cook, on the other hand, was more scientific, more conscious of cultural relativism. • All in all, this is a great package for younger viewers easily bored by sociological or "big picture" abstractions. Once they are attracted to particular individuals, research is easy and pleasant, opening up a whole new world of values, just as a good novel would. CONS • My comment about "apples and oranges" refers to the wide variety of people covered. Some travel to spread a faith; others loot and kill to accumulate gold. Some are eccentric loners escaping group expectations; others are methodical bureaucrats serving governments. Some are scientists seeking to expand human knowledge. Others are closer to "extreme sportsmen". Are they really examples of the same wanderlust? • To keep things exciting, Liulevicius avoids group efforts that are explorations too, except for the Polynesians in Lesson 1. This course is a celebration of heroic individuals pursuing danger and one-time feats, not the habitual risk-taking displayed by ancient or anonymous groups who cannot avoid it. • Thus, the largest migration of all — when our ancestors spread out from Africa to every part of the world — is left out. So are nomads such as the Saharan Bedouins, Arctic Inuits or Central Asian trading caravans risking their lives at regular intervals. Individuals are lost in these endeavors. __________________ None of my CONS are really bad as long as you realise what Liulevicius' focus is. No course can cover everything in 24 lessons. PRESENTATION is very good. Since maps and pictures are important, I much prefer visual formats. If you have an atlas, however, and use Wikipedia, listening should be OK. The course guidebook is fairly complete with a good annotated bibliography. Most of the books mentioned are popular survey efforts, ideal to start you off should you want more. I'm sure many of these books include references to more scholarly sources if that is what you seek. No maps are included in the guidebook. Strongly recommended for young and old who want to be entertained as they learn.
Date published: 2016-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite professors This is the third course of Professor. L's that I've taken, and like the others the quality is superb. Normally this is not a course I would've chosen, but as soon as I saw that he was the lecturer I changed my mind. He is very natural and engaging in his presentation, and a superb storyteller. I appreciate the way he can synthesize so much material into a half-hour lecture so that you get all the important points, and are entertained at the same time.
Date published: 2016-03-29
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