Tuesday, October 7, 2008

MMW 4 Herbst - UCSD podcast review

UCSD podcasts are invariably a brief pleasure. Available as long as new installments in the feed are expected, but taken from us, swiftly after the last lecture as the lights flicking on in the cinema, when the end titles are still rolling. History lovers will need to be on guard and rake in MMW 4 (Making of the Modern World, era 1200 - 1750) by Professor Matthew Herbst, when they still can. (feed)

Herbst we still know from MMW 3 last year and the way he started this new series promises to be as good as the previous one and seamlessly connects with it. We pick up, where we left off, with the camel, that wondrous beast of burden that allows for trade through the Sahara and thus enables the connection between the Muslem empire and the Sahel. And so Islam and its empire is the first subject in the course. Plague ridden Europe will follow only later.

The geographical span is exhilarating: from West-Africa to Cairo, to Baghdad, to Delhi with mention, even, of Samarkand and Bukhara. Herbst gives a vivid feel for this new, large, rich and immensely diversified empire with its culture and its politics. We touch on Sufis, Mameluks, Hindus, Mongols, Dhimmi and Africans. This is the shining world leader in the beginning of MMW 4's era, how could the tables ever turn?

More Matthew Herbst:
The Kingdom of Ghana,
Gupta History,
World history guided by the religions,
World history outside the European box,
Making of the Modern World - UCSD.

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