Crash Course World History Part One: The Ancient World and a Philosophy of History

  1. The Agricultural Revolution
  2. The Indus Valley Civilization
  3. Mesopotamia
  4. Ancient Egypt
  5. The Persians and the Greeks
  6. Buddha and Ashoka
  7. 2,000 Years of Chinese History! The Mandate of Heaven and Confucius
  8. Alexander the Great and the Situation… the Great?
  9. The Silk Road and Ancient Trade

The first part of Crash Course: World History covers the first nine episodes and presents a basis for classical history. Starting with The Agricultural Revolution, then moving through the civilizations that are taught in primary school history (and one that is often ignored) and ending off on an economic system that is necessary to understand the next few sets of episodes.

In the Agricultural Revolution episode the question is posed if Agriculture was actually the great good that historians claim it is and then resolves that no matter what the answer is, we can’t change what happened; a fact that is important because it means we are also making decisions that people in the future can’t change. For the Indus Valley, Green stresses how important economics is to the study of history and that the two can really not be separated. When talking about Mesopotamia he stresses the importance of writing to history and how cities and countries led to further development of the classical world. For the Persians and the Greeks, Green debates the commonly held belief that the Greeks were near saintly and the Persians were evil and whether long happy lives in an authoritarian society are better than short tragic ones in a society striving for democracy.


The next two episodes cover the religious history of India (Hinduism and Buddhism) and the cultural history of China and how the way we talk about history, shapes history. This is continued in the discussions of Alexander the Great and the Silk Road. Green posits that the idea of history as the “study of the deeds of great men” is short sighted and forgets that processes and systems like the Silk Road changed the world more than anyone whose name is followed by “The Great”.

All of this is a philosophy of history. Most episodes end with a return to an overarching question and these questions are what give this part of the series such value as educational material. They are truly a crash course because they provide information for further research and for context in watching future episodes, and then the questions that can serve as the basis for further personal research. This is the strength of Crash Course World History, inspiration for a more educated populace. 


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