World War II: Battlefield Europe [TTC Video]
23 February 2020, 20:34
Course No 8762 | MP4, AVC, 1900 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x28 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.58GB
In more ways that you can imagine, today’s geopolitical climate is a product of World War II. The United States, France, Germany, Russia, and Britain—all of these world powers and their sense of place in the 21st century were profoundly shaped by the most savage, sweeping war in human history.
The topic of World War II’s European Theater is so vast that it requires an expert historian to make sense of it all. How was the war in Europe fought over the course of seven long, arduous years? What led to Germany’s early sustained gains, and what eventually stymied its advances? Why did the war in Europe unfold the way it did, and what socio-economic factors led to Germany’s unconditional surrender after millions of lives were lost?
For award-winning Professor David R. Stone of the U.S. Naval War College, it all boils down to a matter of strategy. Strategic choices—political ones, economic ones, military ones—are the organizing principles that can help any of us make sense of the war in Europe. “Political and military leaders had to make hard decisions,” Professor Stone says. “We can learn a lot by looking at those choices.”
World War II: Battlefield Europe is Professor Stone’s expansive 24-lecture exploration of the 20th century’s defining conflict. Designed in partnership with HISTORY® and using a distinctly European perspective (in which the United States is a supporting player instead of a main character), this course provides a fresh lens through which to study the European Theater’s major battles, larger-than-life personalities, twists of fate, and tales of intrigue. You’ll uncover the strategic decisions behind U-boat assaults, urban bombing campaigns, Operation Barbarossa, D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Italy, the French resistance, the fall of Berlin, V-2 rockets, and so much more. By the end of the last lecture, you’ll better understand why the war in Europe unfolded the way it did—and why its legacy resonates for all players down to this very day.
While World War II had two theaters of combat, the European Theater of 1939 to 1945 was the violent core of this global conflict between the forces of totalitarianism and those of freedom. It was on the European continent where Nazi Germany began its project of expansion and murder. It was on the European continent where Allied and Axis forces clashed at Stalingrad, el-Alamein, Anzio, and Normandy. And it was on the European continent where Nazi Germany was ultimately defeated and the stage was set for the Cold War that would consume the post-war world.
Strategic Looks at Epic Battles
In developing World War II: Battlefield Europe, Professor Stone came up with the conservative estimate that there are over 300,000 books and 30,000 scholarly articles dealing with World War II. It’s a conflict that’s so enormous, no one can master it all at once.
That’s why these lectures dig deep into the European Theater of war, and specifically the real-life military and political strategies behind some of the war’s most definitive battles.
- The Battle of Britain: From the second half of 1940 through most of 1941, the British Royal Air Force and its German equivalent, the Luftwaffe, waged a desperate struggle for control of the skies over England. Dubbed the Battle of Britain by Winston Churchill, the fight raises a number of important strategic questions, including whether Germany’s shift from attacking the RAF to bombing British cities (which appealed to Hitler’s desire to make Britain suffer) might have cost the Nazis their chance at victory.
- The Battle of Stalingrad: While Stalingrad (known today as the city of Volgograd) was one of World War II’s most decisive battles, the regional industrial center in the southeastern section of European Russia wasn’t important in itself. But the city sits where the Volga River takes a big swing westward as it flows south into the Caspian Sea, which meant the Germans couldn’t let the city remain in Soviet hands as it was too big a threat to the flank of their push to grab the oil fields around the Azerbaijani city of Baku.
- The D-Day Invasion: Training for war is, naturally, serious business. It was even more so for the Allied invasion of Europe. Two months before the landing at Utah Beach, 750 American soldiers died at Slapton Sands in southwest England during a training exercise, which was attacked by the Germans. Because a number of the dead Americans had been briefed on the D-Day invasion plans, their bodies had to be recovered to ensure they hadn’t been captured and the plan wasn’t compromised.
- The Battle of the Atlantic: What finally turned the tide in favor of Allied submarines and sea forces? Much of the eventual victory was due to technological developments, including better sonar and radar with which to find enemy subs; a forward-firing battery of depth charges known as “the hedgehog”; and a torpedo known as “Fido” (deliberately called a mine to be misleading to the enemy), which could track submerged submarines and, more important, could be dropped from Allied aircraft.
Provocative Questions, Illuminating Answers
A large part of military strategy isn’t just executing plans, but learning lessons from both victory and defeat. Professor Stone contextualizes the defining moments of World War II by illustrating what the various armies on the European continent took away from their clashes.
For example, after the Soviet victory at the Battle of Moscow in 1941, Hitler, who’d always had trouble taking the advice of military professionals, fired his army commander-in-chief and made himself the German army’s supreme commander. Stalin, on the other hand, came to the right conclusion: Civilian leaders should trust military professionals to make the decisions they’re not competent to make.
Throughout World War II: Battlefield Europe, you’ll get the opportunity to explore challenging and provocative questions about why the European Theater turned out the way it did. Using military and historical expertise, Professor Stone uncovers answers to these and other long-simmering issues.
- How did European anti-Semitism evolve from a belief system rooted in religion to one rooted in race and biology?
- What kept other European powers from re-engaging Germany and stopping Hitler long before he grew too powerful?
- Why did Hitler break his non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union—and what made him think such a radical move would work?
- Could the Allied forces have done anything to stop, or even just to slow down, the horrors of the Holocaust?
- Why, with Berlin under siege and German defeat inevitable, did Hitler keep fighting—and why did his army let him do it?
A Definitive Learning Experience
World War II: Battlefield Europe puts you in the heat of battle alongside an award-winning military historian. In his role as Professor of Strategy and Policy at the U.S. Naval War College, Professor Stone is adept at helping laypeople understand the secret mechanics of warfare: how decisions are made, how forces move, and how battles are won (and lost).
In addition to Professor Stone’s brilliant scholarship, these lectures are powered by HISTORY’s extensive, high-quality coverage of World War II. Strategic maps, photographs, film footage, and illustrated recreations make this course a definitive learning experience unlike anything The Great Courses has ever before produced.
“Informed citizens need to understand their history,” says Professor Stone. With its profound effect on the world for decades following the conflict, World War II is a central part of that history.
A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome [TTC Video]
13 January 2020, 22:39
Course No 8635 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x32 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.15GB
When most of us think of the ancient Roman world, we don’t think about the scholarship of hard-working historians or the discoveries of patient archaeologists. We think, first and foremost, of what we’ve seen at the movies.
From the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1950s to the resurgence of grittier stories in the 21st century, cinema has exerted an undeniable power over our cultural understanding of ancient Rome. The iconography is always fresh in our minds: gladiatorial battles and chariot races, defiant slaves and nefarious emperors, magnificent public structures and white toga costumes. But just because these and other sights are popular in movies doesn’t mean they should always be taken as historical fact.
What would an award-winning historian think of films like Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Gladiator, or even a satire like Monty Python’s Life of Brian? How have these and other movies created our popular perceptions of ancient Roman history—and in what ways have they led us astray? And why, despite the occasional box-office flop, do movies set in ancient Rome still have the power to captivate us, and to turn each of us into theater-going history buffs?
In A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome, Professor Gregory S. Aldrete uses his prolific scholarship to give you a front-row look at the great movies that have shaped ancient Rome’s role in popular culture and memory. Packed with insights into both history and filmmaking, these 12 lectures immerse you in the glory and grandeur (and, sometimes, the folly) of classic and contemporary films featuring over 50 years of cinematic talent, including directors like Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and Ridley Scott, and actors such as Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor, Patrick Stewart, and Russell Crowe. You’ll investigate portrayals of ancient Roman life on the big screen and small screen; learn how to tease out fact from fiction in some of Hollywood’s most stunning spectacles; and deepen your appreciation for films that, when made right, are thrilling time machines into the past.
Survey Landmark Film and TV
For A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome, Professor Aldrete has assembled 13 of what he and many other film buffs consider to be the most important films set in ancient Rome. These are movies we remember for their performances, their costumes and set designs, and the ways they influenced the movies made in their wake. A few of the features you will explore include:
- Quo Vadis: This high-profile 1951 film, starring Peter Ustinov as the tyrannical emperor Nero and Deborah Kerr as a virtuous young Christian girl, established a successful (and lucrative) template for movies about classical antiquity and the early Christian world, and sparked a cultural fire for sword-and-sandal flicks.
- I, Claudius: Based on two novels by Robert Graves, this BBC miniseries tracks the intimate lives of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which includes the emperors Claudius, Caligula, and Tiberius. The show also captured the attention of a second group of viewers: those obsessed with England’s royal family.
- Fellini Satyricon: Italian director Federico Fellini’s experimental film, based on the ancient novel Satyricon by Petronius, was very much a product of the cinematic and social revolutions of the 1960s—both of which left an indelible mark on this picaresque story of a pleasure-seeking young Roman man.
- Gladiator: Essentially a remake of the 1964 film, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Ridley Scott’s blockbuster film from 2000 was a commercial and cultural triumph that snagged Academy Awards, spawned memorable catchphrases, and inspired a host of new sword-and-sandal epics in the subsequent decade, including Troy and 300.
Some films you may already be a fan of; other films you might have only heard of in passing. But all of them are essential to a well-rounded understanding of the intricate relationship between the world of ancient Rome and the world of the movies.
Walk the Line between Truth and Fiction
A scholar who’s spent his entire career immersed in the history of the ancient Roman world (from ancient body armor to everyday life), Professor Aldrete reveals the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of the ancient Roman world depicted in these films. When filmmakers seemingly got certain aspects of history wrong, Professor Aldrete provides a window into how and why the creators made certain decisions and navigated the tenuous line between truth and entertainment. For example, you’ll discover that:
- Ben-Hur‘s naval battle, while a reasonable depiction of naval warfare in the ancient Roman world, nevertheless, depicts the oarsmen of the warships as slaves (they weren’t) and being sent to the galleys as punishment (it wasn’t);
- Spartacus misrepresents the title character’s historical legacy by depicting his revolt as a growing movement challenging slavery, when in reality, it marked the end of popular opposition to the institution;
- I, Claudius portrays the character of Livia as a mass murderer who kills multiple members of her own family to clear the way for her son, Tiberius—a notion that has been proven to likely be false, and can be traced to a specific ancient historian, Cassius Dio.
- Gladiator uses the familiar “thumbs down” gesture to indicate a defeated gladiator should be killed, whereas, recent scholarship has revealed this gesture was most likely a way of calling for the victor to drop his weapon and spare his enemy;
- HBO’s Rome gets many things right about everyday life in ancient Rome, including two characteristics of Roman religion—that it’s a component of nearly all facets of life and that individuals differ in their degrees of belief; and
- Fellini Satyricon, despite its surreal components, depicts a marriage ceremony accurately by dressing the bride with an orange veil and having the guests throw nuts at the couple and shout “feliciter” in congratulations.
Go behind the Scenes of Cinematic Classics
Along with a revealing look at ancient history, these lectures also examine the art and craft of big-budget filmmaking. A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome takes you behind the scenes to reveal how iconic films can be made—or unmade—by everything from clashes between directors and actors to out-of-control budgets.
For example, you’ll learn how:
- Early epics like Ben-Hur couldn’t rely on the luxury of computer-generated effects and, therefore, had to construct impressive, full-sized replicas of ancient Roman sites like the Forum or the Circus Maximus;
- Fall of the Roman Empire was the true box-office bomb that tanked the sword-and-sandals genre for decades (not Cleopatra, as popularly believed); and
- Creative differences between a historical consultant and the producers of Gladiator reflect the way filmmakers ditch historical accuracy for the sake of drama.
Professor Aldrete also highlights profound connections between these films and the wider historical culture in which they first appeared. Quo Vadis, for example, made only a few years after the end of World War II, noticeably portrays the Romans as mirror images of the Nazis. And Spartacus, despite its message of freedom, became the target of McCarthy-era conservative and religious groups who condemned it for being anti-American.
A Guide for Tomorrow’s Great Films
Of course, the end of this exciting lecture series doesn’t mean there isn’t more to come. Roman history continues to inspire new cinematic depictions, and A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome is a welcome guide to settings, themes, and “bread-and-circus” plots that popular culture just can’t let go of.
Professor Aldrete’s lectures leave you excited about how tomorrow’s movies will depict the ancient world—and eager to discover what those creative works will reveal about both the past and the times in which they’re made.
Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom [TTC Video]
10 January 2020, 05:13
Course No. 8692 | MP4, AVC, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30m | + PDF Guidebook | 7.57GB
We like to believe that the founding principle of the United States is liberty. “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry famously said in 1775 to encourage the Virginia colonists to fight for their freedom. It was liberty for which he was willing to sacrifice his life. And it was to gain that liberty that the colonists eventually fought and won the Revolutionary War. So, you would think that when the United States of America was formed, our citizenry could finally enjoy a plethora of hard-won liberties.
But that was not the case. While the new Americans no longer suffered from taxation without representation, many of the liberties we enjoy today were not part of their lives. In Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, you will learn how liberty increased in our country when individuals sued for those freedoms, when cases were brought specifically to test the limits of the Constitution with its Amendments, and even when a jury in a local case returned an unexpected verdict that helped change the thinking of the times.
In 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Douglas O. Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law takes you behinds the scenes of the trials that brought us many of the freedoms we enjoy today. You’ll learn what happened when Anne Hutchinson dared to speak her religious ideas in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of the 1600s; when Susan B. Anthony decided to vote in a national election; when John Peter Zenger challenged colonial authorities in his newspaper; when labor activists promoted radical ideas in the 1880s in Chicago; when Jehovah’s Witnesses decided their children should not be forced to salute the American flag in school, and brought 22 other civil liberties cases to the courts, and more.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look
You’ll develop an in-depth understanding of the participants in more than 24 fascinating trials and learn what actions and thoughts led them to court, as well as hear from the prosecuting and defending attorneys in cases that addressed the freedom to:
- Teach evolution. In 1925, John Scopes was a young science teacher who agreed to serve as a test case for the Tennessee Butler Act, the law that made it illegal to teach anything that denied the Biblical account of human origins. While Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution, the trial brought the issue into American homes. The Butler Act was repealed, but not until 1967.
- Marry the person you love, no matter their skin color. When Richard Loving married Mildred Jeter in 1958, they were thrilled, but the commonwealth of Virginia was not; Richard was white, and the state identified Mildred as “colored,” which made it illegal for them to marry. They eventually took their case to the Supreme Court and won in 1967.
- Defend your home and family, regardless of race. In 1925, African American doctor Ossie Sweet bought a home for his family in a white neighborhood of Detroit. When a white man was killed during a riot outside his house, police charged everyone in the Sweet home with premeditated murder. With Clarence Darrow as his lawyer, the Sweets won the same right to defend their property that their white neighbors already enjoyed.
Many famous figures in American history play prominent roles in these trials, whether as plaintiff, defendant, or attorney. You’re familiar with their names, but in this course, you’ll learn their fascinating backstories, including:
- John Brown, the abolitionist who armed slaves and encouraged an uprising in 1859 at Harper’s Ferry;
- Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffrage advocate who was arrested in 1872 for the act of voting;
- Clarence Darrow, the attorney who, in the 1920s, defended the right of science teacher John Scopes to teach evolution in public school, and—with a seven-hour summation—defended the right of African American Henry Sweet to defend himself against a white mob;
- William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, U.S. Secretary of State, and the attorney who prosecuted John Scopes for teaching evolution in public school, but withered under examination by Clarence Darrow;
- Norma McCorvey (“Roe”), the woman who filed suit against Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade in 1970, challenging a Texas law that prohibited her from having an abortion; and
- Jack Kevorkian, the doctor who advocated for a patient’s right to die by physician-assisted suicide, participated in euthanasia, and was convicted of murder in 1999.
When Liberty Lost
U.S. history has not always moved in a straight line from less freedom to more freedom. In Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, you’ll learn not only about cases in which liberty claims were vindicated, but also those in which they were denied. Sometimes those cases that upheld the status quo seem most clearly unjust by today’s standards, and, occasionally, even by the standards of the times. Slavery, for example, sometimes received protection by judges who nonetheless found it despicable. It was the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment, not the courts, that finally granted liberties to enslaved persons. You’ll learn about cases that:
- Did not allow a slave to testify that she killed her master in self-defense after he had repeatedly raped her over a period of years. At trial, evidence was presented that the fatal blow that particular night came only after Celia (no last name) was physically threatened, but the judge instructed the jury to ignore that evidence. Celia was convicted and executed.
- Upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, keeping Jim Crow laws on the books for decades. Homer Plessy was a Caucasian-looking man in Louisiana who took a seat in a train’s “white” section, announced he was 1/8 African American, and refused to move. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities.
- Upheld the constitutionality of the Japanese American relocation camps on the basis of national security. Two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order requiring all Japanese Americans to move into the camps. Fred Korematsu refused, was arrested, convicted, and took his case to the Supreme Court. The Court majority found that the executive order was justified by national security concerns.
No courts are infallible. As you’ll learn in Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, the Supreme Court has come back to revisit these and many other decisions. Sometimes new information is available, or the social framework of society has drastically changed, and sometimes the original decisions were just wrong. For example, in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts took an opportunity to comment on Korematsu: “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—has no place in law under the Constitution.”
As you learn about the intriguing cases presented in the 24 lectures of this course, you’ll understand and appreciate your own liberties in a new way. After all, every freedom we have has been won through someone’s passion and willingness to fight for what they believe is right. And just as liberty has been continuously redefined throughout American history—it will continue to be redefined in the future.