London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World

Course No. 8894
Professor Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
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Course No. 8894
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  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is well illustrated, featuring 250 graphics to enhance your learning experience, including maps of the original city and outlying territory and paintings and illustrations of buildings and areas that no longer exist. Portraits of key figures important to the Tudor/Stuart Era such as Elizabeth I are also showcased, as well as renderings of plays by Marlowe and Shakespeare.
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Course Overview

No city has had as powerful and as enduring an impact on Western civilization as London. Throughout its vast and riveting history, London played a critical role in shaping many of the most important political, social, cultural, and economic institutions and systems that you live with today. Consider that London

  • was the capital of a powerful empire that covered one-fifth of the world's landmass and one-quarter of its population;
  • was the headquarters of a constitutional monarchy with more elements of democracy and popular participation than any Western country before the United States;
  • was the economic center of Europe both during and after the Industrial Revolution, serving as its financial center, its banking center, and its largest port;
  • spearheaded innovative modern solutions (including public institutions and municipal police forces) to universal human ills such as crime, disease, and poverty;
  • was the site of historical political movements that led to wider government reform, including the fight for women's suffrage;
  • was the home to some of history's greatest individuals, including William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, and Winston Churchill; and
  • served as the last bastion of freedom in Europe against the onslaught of the Nazis in World War II.

London's greatness continues to this day. The city stands as a global metropolitan center and continues to be synonymous with important developments in international business, culture, and politics.

But why London? What made the city the perfect environment for all these great political, social, and cultural developments? How did this city endure sweeping historical revolutions and disasters without crumbling? And what about its citizens—what exactly defines a Londoner, both in the past and today?

London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World is your opportunity to find the answers to these and other questions about this magnificent metropolis. In 24 fascinating lectures, Oxford-trained historian and award-winning Professor Robert Bucholz of Loyola University Chicago takes you through London's history, from its birth as a Roman outpost in the 1st century C.E. to its current status as a 21st-century global village. An encyclopedic view of a city like no other, this course will take you back to London as it was lived and felt throughout history.

If you've been to London before, prepare to discover a wealth of new insights into the city you thought you knew. And if you haven't—prepare to be captivated by a city whose sights, history, people, and spirit serve as an amazing window into Western history.

Explore London's Role in Epic Historical Moments

The cultural flowering of the English Renaissance; the horrors of the Great Plague; the turmoil of the English civil war; the epic conflict of World Wars I and II—by playing crucial roles in these and other historical events, London helped lay the foundation for the modern world.

London: A Short History examines these and other epic chapters in British and world history through the lens of this amazing capital. Every lecture explores how these definitive historical moments affected the evolution of the city and the lives of both iconic and everyday Londoners.

Your focus is always on the enduring themes of the city's story, including its steady growth, its cultural diversity, and its ability to survive even in the face of overwhelming hardships.

Walk through London's Streets

What makes London: A Short History unique from other historical studies of great cities is that it takes you deep into the streets of London during formative periods in its history. While broad cultural, political, and demographic trends are important parts of the city's story, Professor Bucholz also continuously emphasizes the importance of understanding and experiencing the sights and sounds of London as it was lived by its residents.

At important moments throughout the course, you zoom in on the streets of London in a series of "walking tour" lectures. In these imaginative lectures, you travel through various parts of the city, guided by a Londoner who is both an icon of Western civilization and a representative of the period's culture and customs. You experience

  • medieval London with poet Geoffrey Chaucer;
  • Elizabethan London with playwright William Shakespeare;
  • 17th-century London with diarist and socialite Samuel Pepys;
  • 18th-century London with writer Samuel Johnson; and
  • Victorian London with novelist Charles Dickens.

In addition, the course closes with Professor Bucholz's personalized tour of late 20th- and early 21st-century London.

In each of these tours, you follow your particular guide through daily life in historical London, noting important landmarks and learning the secret histories behind places such as Westminster Abbey, Fleet Street, Piccadilly Circus, and London Bridge. With each new tour, your understanding of London's evolution increases exponentially.

An Unforgettable Look at an Unforgettable City

London incorporates a wealth of eyewitness accounts from journals, poems, diaries, and newspaper articles to answer these questions and intimately connect you with daily life in this great city. These perceptive, affecting voices convey what happens when average individuals become willing (or unwilling) participants in larger historical moments.

A veteran Teaching Company lecturer and a renowned American scholar of British history, Professor Bucholz has crafted London: A Short History as a history of the city for an American audience. While the lectures are deeply infused with the rich details of British life and customs, they are always accessible to those who have never set foot in London's streets.

With its interdisciplinary approach to this great city—one that draws from court history, literature, sociology, urban planning, economics, and more—London: A Short History will undoubtedly delight and surprise you, regardless of your familiarity with this amazing city. By the final lecture, you'll come to realize just what Samuel Johnson meant when he famously declared, "there is in London, all that life can afford."

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    There's No Place like London
    This introductory lecture gives you a brief overview of London, introduces you to several overarching themes—including London's growth, diversity, and resilience—and shows you why this magnificent metropolis is the greatest city in the Western world. x
  • 2
    The Rise and Fall of Roman Londinium
    Explore the early centuries of London's history, from its foundation in 60 C.E. as Londinium—the largest Roman settlement in Britain—to its eventual decline and abandonment at the end of the 4th century C.E. after the collapse of the Roman Empire. x
  • 3
    Medieval London's Thousand-Year Climb
    How did London revive itself and come to play a prominent part in early British history? Discover the important roles played by the Christian church, Viking scourges, leaders such as Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror, and the Magna Carta. x
  • 4
    Economic Life in Chaucer's London
    Walk the streets of medieval London as it was lived and experienced by the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. This intimate historical tour includes looks at places such as the Tower of London, the London docks, the markets on East Cheap, and the shops and taverns of Cheapside. x
  • 5
    Politics and Religion in Chaucer's London
    Continue touring 14th-century London by heading west and exploring the importance of London's Guildhall (City Hall), the magnificence of old St. Paul's Cathedral (as well as its churchyard), the excitement of the Strand, and the splendor of Westminster Abbey. x
  • 6
    London Embraces the Early Tudors
    Investigate the impact of the Tudor dynasty on the lives of Londoners, with pointed looks at the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, and Mary I. Also, study how London dealt with the religious turmoil brought about by the Protestant Reformation. x
  • 7
    Elizabeth I and London as a Stage
    Delve into the impact of Queen Elizabeth's reign on London between 1558 and 1603. Highly popular among Londoners, Queen Elizabeth used the city as a stage on which to display the rich pageantry of the Tudor monarchy. x
  • 8
    Life in Shakespeare's London—East
    Get an in-depth look at London through the eyes of William Shakespeare, who stands in for the typical late 16th-century immigrant to the city. Tour London's East End (the traditional arrival point for immigrants), the bustle of the Royal Exchange, Bridewell Prison, and London's four great law schools. x
  • 9
    Life in Shakespeare's London—West
    As your tour of Shakespearean London continues, gain insights into vibrant parts of the city, including St. James's Park, Westminster Hall, and London Bridge. Also, explore the experience of attending a play at the Rose Theatre—which reveals much about theatergoing habits during this period in London's history. x
  • 10
    London Rejects the Early Stuarts
    Explore London life between 1603 and 1660, focusing on the effects of the city's population growth on its economic system, the rise of crime in its streets, the fervent struggles between Protestants and Catholics, and the breakdown of royal authority that resulted in the English civil war. x
  • 11
    Life in Samuel Pepys's 17th-Century London
    The rise of two new watering holes in London (the coffee house and the club); the spectacle and excitement of the court scene at Whitehall; the amusements of the 17th-century pleasure garden—encounter these and other aspects of Restoration London through the detailed diary entries of Samuel Pepys. x
  • 12
    Plague and Fire
    Samuel Pepys's diary entries also provide you with an intimate window into the two great disasters that wracked London in the mid-1660s: the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. Both of these events, you learn, had an unimaginable impact on the everyday lives of Londoners. x
  • 13
    London Rises Again—As an Imperial Capital
    In the last decades of the 17th century, London grew into the capital of a world empire. Follow London's reconstruction and discover how a series of nationwide political, commercial, and economic changes—including the Glorious Revolution—irrevocably transformed the city. x
  • 14
    Johnson's London—All That Life Can Afford
    What was life like in 18th-century London? Use author Samuel Johnson as a lens through which to view the city's growing newspaper business, its chophouses and ale-houses, the decline of court culture, and the rise of public patronage for the arts. x
  • 15
    The Underside of 18th-Century London
    Eighteenth-century London, you find, was also rampant with poverty and crime. Investigate the underbelly of Samuel Johnson's London: a world of prostitutes, abandoned children, and murderers. Then, see how the city combated these social ills through public institutions (including the Foundling Hospital) and popular public hangings. x
  • 16
    London Confronts Its Problems
    Focus on the many ways that London solved the problems that had overwhelmed it, including building bridges to alleviate increased horse-drawn traffic, developing an intricate sewage system to combat water pollution, and reforming the law enforcement system to better handle the city's wave of riots. x
  • 17
    Life in Dickens's London
    Track the city's transition into the Victorian era through the novels and personal impressions of Charles Dickens. See how previously covered territory—including Fleet Street, Westminster Palace, and Covent Garden—has evolved, and explore Bloomsbury, home to both Dickens and the extraordinary collections of the British Museum and the British Library. x
  • 18
    Two Windows into Victorian London
    Victorian London was a city of contrasts. See this reflected in two major events that defined the city: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee of 1887, which revived the popularity of the monarchy, and the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888, which reveal much about the period's social and cultural atmosphere. x
  • 19
    Questions Postponed and the Great War
    Explore the women's suffrage movement and the global crisis of World War I as windows into London life in the early 20th century. Chart these two defining moments in British history through the eyewitness accounts of journalists, writers, and everyday Londoners. x
  • 20
    London's Interwar Expansion and Diversions
    Postwar London struggled with economic trauma, a national strike, and a sharp increase in unemployment. Yet this period, you discover, also saw the modernization of the city's transportation system and architecture, a shift in social norms, and new forms of popular entertainment. x
  • 21
    The Blitz—The Greatest Target in the World
    Between September 1940 and May 1941, London came under frequent air attack by Nazi Germany—an event known as "the Blitz." Experience this critical episode of World War II through the accounts of the Londoners who endured it and see how—as always—the city persevered through uncertain times. x
  • 22
    Postwar London Returns to Life
    Find out how postwar Londoners faced the bleakness of a troubled economy and the environmental disaster of 1952's Big Smoke. Then, see how the dire situation turned around with increased economic prosperity, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and an influx of immigrants who diversified London life and culture. x
  • 23
    The Varied Winds of Change
    Survey the waves of change that washed over London, from the "Swinging Sixties"—with its revolutions in theater, music, and fashion and its nuclear disarmament protests—to the 1980s and the election of a Conservative government under British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. x
  • 24
    Millennial London—How Do You Like It?
    Conclude the course with a journey through contemporary London and a look at some events that have defined the city in recent years and testify to its powerful and enduring spirit: Princess Diana's death, the unification of the city government under the Greater London Authority, and the 2005 terrorist bombings. x

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Video DVD
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  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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  • Download 24 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 152-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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CD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 12 CDs
  • 152-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 152-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Robert Bucholz

About Your Professor

Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
Dr. Robert Bucholz is Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where he has taught since 1988. He earned his B.A. in History from Cornell University and his D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University. Before joining the faculty at Loyola University, Professor Bucholz taught at numerous universities, including Cornell University; California State University, Long Beach; and Loyola, Marymount University. He is a...
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Reviews

London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 97.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from London Revisited My wife and I watched as a follow-up to 2 weeks on foot in London spring 2018. We wished we had discovered the course before we went. We are Great Courses alumni so we generally knew what to expect. We were very pleased with Dr. Bucholz's presentation and content. He is a very good communicator and obviously loves all things London. We happily anticipated watching one or two lectures each evening. We will watch the course again before our next London visit to refresh our aging memories. We will also check out other courses of his as well. Nice work.
Date published: 2018-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like I traveled back in time to be there. I think that I'm a closet Anglophile. I loved the content. The pictures although there were few added when needed. Always loved the British Isles and I can time travel back to visit Merry Old England.
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am 1/2 way thru this lecture series and it is worthwhile. I am enjoying it. I have been to London and my next time is to visit some of these great other places that Professor Bucholz discusses.
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and Interesting I am planning to travel to London this summer, so the orientation to the city of London will be useful. Presenter was amusing as well as insightful, making for an interesting course.
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Get up & go My ol’ pal, Professor Bucholz, nice to see you again. It’s been a while. Sure am glad I picked up this nice little excursion through the streets of London. I really enjoyed the historical tour: Time went by fast; learned a lot about London’s foundation and growth and development; introduced to a lot of fascinating characters; maps were helpful; the quotes were great. The Guidebook is well done and it’s got a Timeline and Glossary. If you’re not that well versed in English history, may I suggest reading through the Biographical Notes before beginning? That way you have sufficient background knowledge. It can be confusing when rulers/dynasties come at you fast and furious. Whether you’re an armchair tourist or you’ve got tickets and reservations in hand, I think this is a wonderful course to supplement your history library. I preferred the video and was satisfied with the maps and graphics.
Date published: 2017-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoyable Take this course for the sheer fun of it. Even if you know London you will learn a lot. For example, you'll discover how long Londinium lasted, how it changed, and what the post-Roman settlers made of it. Other well known episodes like the plagues and the great fire are satisfyingly unpacked. But the best reason to buy this is the professor's company, for he is probably the most personable, urbane, and congenial lecturer in the whole Great Courses stable. (His course on the Tudors and the Stuarts is even better than this one. Professor B., if you are reading this, please, please give us another dynasty. Perhaps the Hanoverians?) Personal admission: I am not particularly Anglophile other than for their literature. All the stately homes of Britain could collapse and I would feel no loss. So you don't have to especially cherish London to get a ton out of this course. The course is akin to a great biography. The arc of the story and its masterful delivery more than repay your investment. Before this course Brexit looked to me like a blunder, now it feels like a tragedy.
Date published: 2017-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Joyful look at London Having visited London a number of times in the past decade to see my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters, I thought I had learned much about this great city. Each time we visit, we find something new, and enjoy some old haunts as well. However, my eyes have been opened even wider by the watching and the learning of this course. Professor Bucholtz obviously loves London ( and unabashedly says so in an infectious way), but, more importantly, he has an excellent grasp of the details of the history of the city: not just the parade of kings and queens, but the writers, the artists, the "London mobs", the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. By taking the course, one will learn to appreciate how important the city has been to England, Great Britain, Europe, and the world. Interspersed with "history", he takes you on "walks" of London during various eras, using known historical figures as guides to the contemporaneous sites of the city. If you have never had the pleasure of visiting London, by the end of the presentation, even the hard-hearted will be at least tempted to visit!
Date published: 2017-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course with Dynamic Professor This was an excellent course and interesting. It was enjoyable from beginning to end. The speaker was dynamic and kept you interested. Very well done.
Date published: 2017-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Story - Excellent Lecturer We have watched so many lectures on European history. This more detailed series on London is absolutely wonderful. The Professor has a great knowledge of English history and especially on London. We recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding!! This is among the very best of the dozens of courses I have purchased from the Great Courses. Prof. Bucholz is a terrific lecturer and has a pleasant and engaging speaking style and a great sense of humor. He is a magnificent storyteller, and he tells a very compelling story of London's history here. His use of maps is a real highlight as well, particularly for those, like me, who have recently traveled to London or plan to go soon. I think the video version is well worth the extra expense because of the maps. Prof. Bucholz's enthusiasm for his subject matter is infectious, and the matters covered in the course are right on the mark. In sum, this is an outstanding course by an outstanding professor at the top of his game. Highly recommended to all; especially those who have recent travel plans to London.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Prep for Trip Planning a first visit to London and this course is a great start on pre-trip planning. The Professor's style is superb and keeps you looking forward to the next lecture.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bucholz gives us another winner Professor Bucholz is one of my favorite Great Courses professors. In this course, he is in peak form. The challenge is to convey the social, infrastructural, and architectural changes of a large city over a very long time, and not completely lose the learner. As usual, Prof. Bucholz manages to walk us through this complex history with humor and style. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2016-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Preparing for trip to London The was the perfect balance of comprehensive and concise, with terrifically selected aspects to focus on and anecdotes to illustrate the city's history, that it was the perfect background to appreciate London for the second time. The first, in 1981, I was completely unprepared and now see it very differently.
Date published: 2016-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from London The professor lectures in such a way that you feel that you were in London during the years from the Roman Empire until today. He does a great job.
Date published: 2016-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gifted Professor Simply put this man is a gifted professor. This is my favorite of the 20 Great Courses that I have purchased. He makes the history of London come alive and my wife and I have vacationed in London three times in the past.
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely First Class It is impossible to watch these lectures and not become addicted to the history of London ... or just to history. Professor Bucholz's complete mastery of his subject, passion and professionalism translate into a wonderfully enlightening and enjoyable experience for the listener. Thank you so much.
Date published: 2016-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth both your time and your money! I seldom spend the time to write reviews for my purchases. But, in this instance, I am so delighted and pleased with this presenter that I want to share my enthusiasm. The course does not have a lot of visual props except for the maps that show the way London has changed over the course of 2000 years. But that is a small issue when the narration and description, including the quotes, create an imaginative visual in the listener. Dr Bucholz is so lively in his presentation that I am immediately drawn into the London he is currently describing. I can see in my minds eye how it must be. He is incredibly knowledgable about the subject. And when you consider that he is covering 2000+ years that is truly amazing. If I ever thought history was dry, I am cured! I am watching these lectures in preparation for my visit to London this fall. I know that as I walk down the different streets, I will remember how they evolved. And how this history impacted my own ancestry and I came to be where I am today. This will enhance my trip immeasurably. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2015-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Experience the story of London I have taken many of the Great Courses, and this is one that I especially enjoyed. It is an interesting combination of showmanship and academic content. I have visited London often and found that the course added to my knowledge, refreshed my memory, and filled in some gaps. It would be an excellent preparation for a tourist visit. The course is presented as snapshots of history as related to famous persons or crucial events. I found this more lively than trying to cover every period of time equally. Often there are extended quotations from eyewitnesses of the events, which lent authenticity. I took the course in video format, and was happy to see the frequent maps and occasional photographs. But the course has clearly been designed to work well in audio format as well.
Date published: 2015-09-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Professor is obnoxious In lecture 12, "Plague and Fire," the professor states "At least the king never turned to him [Lord Mayor of London Thomas Bloodworth, who had done a poor job dealing with the fire] and said 'Heck of a job, Brownie.'" This gratuitous reference to President George W. Bush's comment about FEMA director Michael Brown after Katrina was despicable. I returned the course because of it.
Date published: 2015-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The History of a Nation Encapsulated in the Histor I started this course expecting a history of the City of London with a very narrow focus. I was happily surprised by the overall breadth of this course, which managed to summarize much of English national history through the prism of London. The class gave both political and cultural history from the perspective of commoners and lords alike. It has been many years since I had English history in college, so this was a great refresher. That being said, I wish I had taken the Great Courses classes on the broader scope of English history before taking this class. I plan to take those courses soon, but I fear that I went in the wrong order to maximize my understanding. As with nearly all Great Courses that I have taken, the professor was enthusiastic, informed and engaging. The material presented covered the earliest settlement of London through the end of the first decade of the 2000s. I personally wish the professor had spent more time on Roman London because I find that era particularly fascinating, but I really cannot complain about the depth or the breadth of any of the topics he selected. The professor gave many interesting anecdotes, such as his description of how royal security was so lax for many generations that any well-dressed person could stroll into the palace grounds and have a good chance of seeing the king. I feel both entertained and better informed from this course.
Date published: 2015-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful history of London The Professor read excerpts from books or documents from the past that really added to an understanding of life in old London. He really knows his subject and I look forward to other classes with him.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I have read all the reviews to date and fully agree with all those who rate this course as Excellent. London really is the Greatest City in the World in my opinion too. I was born in Surrey, just south of London and lived in the south-east of England until I was about 30, including during WW2. I thought I knew London quite well as it was only a 20 minute train ride to London Bridge or Victoria stations, from which most places were only a short walk or tube ride away. During the blitz in WW2 I had to pass through London every term going to or from boarding school. I was at university in East London, walking over London Bridge every day, and I was in the crowd ouside the Palace on Coronation Day. By lecture 2 I had learned a lot of things about the city that I didn't know, and that continued in every successive lecture - and all that from an American, not a Brit! He is a wonderful lecturer, very knowledgable in the subject, full of anecdotes and interesting little known facts, all with wit and an absorbing, almost casual, delivery style. I recommend the course unreservedly to anyone with any interest in London.
Date published: 2015-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great again This is the third course I have seen from DR, Buchotz, once again he is great. Smooth , elegant and funny. One of the stars of the Great Courses. I only regret he to this date hasn't done more.
Date published: 2014-12-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Could Have Been So Much Better It is a shame the professor included only hard to read maps and not at least some visuals. Yes I fully realize that there are no photo's from the 16th century etc available, but there are some drawings, paintings etc that would have spruced up this rather dull presentation. I would recommend to anyone planning a trip to London that this could be a great aid in planning your visit. There is a lot to see in London and it would be nice to have some general idea of where points of interest could be found and some background on each. I was surprised to learn that the professor had visited London many times since 1980, but I guess he forgot his camera. It sure would have been nice to have at least a few photo's of what he is referring to. I asked TGC about the visuals in this course before I bought it and was told the same old words "this course works well in any format". Well it doesn't since there are very few visuals except for the hard to read maps. If you purchase the DVD the course it is a bit boring, if you stay with audio only presentation you have no idea about what he is talking about when referring to the maps. Bottom line I was looking forward to purchasing some of Professor Buchoz's other courses but based on this experience I have decided to not buy another of Professor Bucholz presentations.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from London is more than you imagine I lived in London for 9 years, my family originated from there, and I thought I knew "my city's" history. Well, I learned so much new stuff that I was amazed. This is a well planned and executed course; part story, part recollection, part comedy. Fabulous!
Date published: 2014-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absorbing, Colorful, Informative I had wanted to order this course before my trip to England (principally the London area) this summer after an absence of many years, but it was not on sale until after my return. Based on several reviewers’ complaints that there was a real dearth of visual material in the video version, I chose the audio download, confident that Dr. Bucholz’s excellent speaking style (I loved his outstanding course of the History of the Tudors and Stuarts) would compensate for the lack of pictures and would give me the flexibility to listen to it anywhere on a iPhone or iPad. I have done just that since my return home and have greatly enjoyed Dr. Bucholz’s colorful descriptions of London’s rise from its Roman roots first to a medieval town, then gradually to a major capital of empire, detailing both its glories and disasters throughout the two millennia of its existence. One effective technique used by Dr. Bucholz is the descriptive “walk through” of major parts of London, by Samuel Pepys in the 17th century, Samuel Johnson in the 18th, Charles Dickens in the 19th and himself as an Oxford student in the late 20th century. I imagined that to enhance the narrative, the video version might have featured numerous maps, drawings and from the mid-19th century forward, photographs, but found only one reviewer who pronounced as helpful the visuals offered in the course. Though clearly an admirer of London as a stellar city of the ages, Dr. Bucholz does not sugar-coat its shortcomings, offering dark descriptions of the crime, poverty, disease, prostitution, overcrowding, air and water pollution, frequent fires and other negative factors that have persisted throughout much of the city’s history. However, these are more than offset by its inhabitants’ grand cultural and literary achievements, great architecture, thriving economy through manufacture and trade and the city’s status and prestige as the heart of the British Empire. The last few lectures covering post-WWII London fall within the personal memories of the course’s senior audience, myself included. These feature changes in politics from Churchill to Wilson to Thatcher to Blair, London-based innovations in culture, fashion, music and films, as well as fluctuating fortunes in business and the economy. The dramatic end-of-an era description of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill brought to mind my own participation as a street spectator of the imposing procession and lying-in-state at Westminster Hall on that cold Saturday in late January of 1965. I am frequently surprised at the extent to which various reviewers can evaluate the same course so differently and why some are highly critical of courses that receive a top rating from most reviewers. Sometimes these differences reflect relative familiarity with the subject matter and focus on omissions or minor errors, or perceived political views that may differ from those of the reviewer, but in this case the issue seems to be style. I firmly agree with those who proclaim Dr. Bucholz to be among the most dynamic and substantive, yet also entertaining, of the Great Courses array of carefully chosen lecturers. That he combines reading from a prepared text with informal and sometimes humorous asides in my view makes for an attractive, fluid and coherent presentation, especially appreciated in the audio version. This course was prepared and released before the 2012 London Olympics (the award of the games to London in July 2005 is referred to in passing in the final lecture in the context of the notorious “7/7” terrorist attacks by British Muslims that occurred on the following day). Thus the course’s timing places the highly successful games, masterfully executed in crowded London, outside the scope of these lectures, which is rather a pity, as the games and their impact on today’s London would have provided a great closing bookend for this comprehensive history of London. Nevertheless, this course is a must for Anglophiles, but as it is so specifically targeted, some basic level of interest in and knowledge of England, its history and its capital city, is a requisite for full enjoyment.
Date published: 2014-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite courses. A great history course Most history courses bore me but I wanted to get a feel for London before I traveled there. I decided to try this course and I am glad I did. The speaker brought the material to life and really made it interesting. I listened to the CDs on my drive to work and they kept me interested and engaged. My husband listened to several lectures with me while on a road trip and he enjoyed the course and the speaker as much as I did. I wish he taught other history courses beyond British history because I would be interested in listening to more courses from him. He focused whenever possible on accounts from people and gave a perspective of what life was like for the people living there instead focusing on dates and facts alone. Finishing the course just prior to my trip made it fun for me to go to London and take the boat ride on the Thames, visit the Tower of London and walk down the Strand. It made me feel much more connected to the history and the relevance of so many places I visited when I was there. It also gave me a better perspective of the spirit of the people of London throughout the ages and the evolution of the monarchy. I highly recommend this course if you have any interest in the subject matter and the CD course was perfect. I do not feel I missed anything by not having video.
Date published: 2014-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo! Both informative and entertaining - honestly, I wish it had been longer - I will likely re-watch this should I ever be lucky enough to visit London again. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2014-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I have now listened to this series three times, and each time I learn something new. I loved the professor's wit and corny jokes (only a few). I recommend this to anyone who loves London.
Date published: 2014-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best I've listened to perhaps a dozen of the Great Courses, and this is one of the best, hands-down. Dr. Bucholz is an engaging presenter, and the depth of information here is impressive. Best, he clearly loves his subject. This is just the right length lectures-wise, too. Very enjoyable.
Date published: 2014-03-21
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