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Publisher's Summary

Spain has played a unique and essential role in Western civilization. To understand the unfolding of Spain's epic history is to come to terms with one of the West's great cultures, and to grasp its enduring presence and impact on the world stage.

In these 24 accessible lectures, Professor Salisbury presents a broad and enthralling panorama of Spanish history, covering the centuries from the first prehistoric settlement of the peninsula to Spain's 20th-century civil war.

Linking one seminal era with the next, the course begins with how early Spain drew a range of peoples from ancient Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, who formed vibrant communities on the peninsula. From there, you'll witness the rule of the peninsula by both Rome and Visigothic peoples, leading to the spellbinding drama of Islamic Spain and the Reconquista, Catholic Spain and the Inquisition, and the opening of the New World. Finally, you'll travel into the kingly dynasties and the dazzling artistic heritage of the Habsburgs and Bourbons, and you'll track Spain's emergence into the modern world.

Together with the unfolding of Spanish history, Professor Salisbury illuminates Spain's iconic cultural forms - such as flamenco music and dance, and the ritual of bullfighting - and its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, theology, and learning.

Across the centuries, you'll explore jewels of Spanish architecture, from the resplendent Moorish Alhambra and Alcázar of Seville to the sublime Sagrada Familia cathedral of modernist Antoni Gaudí. And you'll encounter Spain's geniuses of the visual and written arts, including such masters as the painters Velasquez, el Greco, Goya, and Picasso, and writers from the philosophers Averroes and Maimonides to literary greats Lope de Vega and Cervantes.

Travel with us to this remarkable culture, and savor the beauty and the great human drama of the history of Spain.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars

As much travelogue as history

Prof Salisbury starts her first lecture acknowledging her love for Spain and Spanish culture, which is fair enough, perhaps even to be expected. She follows through with a parade of colorful highlights, a 12-hour whirlwind from Phoencians to Franco.

Often she gets a little carried away. Spain's is not all that fertile a soil, for example, nor do I think she really believes it's difficult to think of an architect on par with Gaudi. This kind of cheer-leading, paired to a brisk, skimming pace, can gives the lectures more of a feel of travelogue or a pre-collegiate world cultures course than of collegiate level history. Good news for casual listeners, bad news for history buffs in search of some meaty analysis. As a history buff, I was disappointed, but recognize that this kind of enthusiasm can go a long way to holding the interest of someone who typically finds lectures dry and awful.

Sometimes, however, she takes the adoration too far, charitably understating the more... problematic aspects of topics like colonialism, bullfighting, slavery, guerillas, and the Spanish Inquisition. She prefers celebrating reform to identifying the problems needing reform. Bring a healthy dose of cynicism to your listening.

Full marks for Salisbury's speaking voice, which I could follow even in a noisy work environment, and for an unusually low incidence of verbal tics.

38 people found this helpful

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History is complex - presented as if all sources agreed with content as she presented it to us

I have studied about Spanish history a little prior to listening to this book. At least some parts of the history of Spain were presented here as ‘The’ facts when there are varying accounts of those times. This led me to feel less trusting of the rest of the information presented. But overall I do feel like I learned more about Spain and I enjoyed listening to the entire audio book.

12 people found this helpful

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Good

I was expecting a bit more in depth about history. Was mostly a broad view. It did cover some elements of culture which I found very interesting

10 people found this helpful

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heavy Muslim focus

I rated this book only 3 stars because the narrator focused what seemed like many lectures on Muslim Spain and spent very little time painting a picture of Spain after the middle ages. To give just two examples, I did not feel like enough attention was paid to Spain's relationship with its colonies or the Spanish civil war. I wish the narrator spent more time on these and other aspects of Spanish history. However, there doesn't seem to be much about Spanish history on Audible so I would say this book is worth listening to if you can't find anything similar.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series and learned a lot. It has inspired me not only to visit the Iberian Peninsula, but to delve into the histories of other nations as well.
I enjoyed Prof. Salisbury's presentation and the overall presentation in general.

8 people found this helpful

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Best Great Courses Yet

I have listened to about 20+ great courses, and this one has absolutely been my favorite. The professor has a contagious enthusiasm for the subject matter, clear and consise speaking style, and organizes the material in a way that is engaging and helps bring the lectures to life. I never once "spaced out," and found myself looking forward to the next commute. I am now hoping to travel to Spain to experience some of its rich history and culture and hope the professor will have other Great Courses soon! Thanks!

7 people found this helpful

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Horrible narration

How someone who wrote these lectures could read them so poorly is a mystery. This is my first listen to Great Courses, although the subjects have always tempted me. Does the series employ no editors at all? Salisbury stumbled over her own words regularly, and demonstrated an irregular pronunciation of Spanish and other non-English names and terms. Most annoying was her constant fracturing of phrases, breaking in the midst of clauses for no reason, unless breath control is a real problem for her, which problem her listeners should not be forced to share at a rate of every paragraph. The subject matter was very interesting, apart from her personal opinions or remarks about her own pedestrian experiences. I did not need to hear which Picasso is her favorite and why, or repeated whining about the cost of soccer jerseys purchased, apparently unwillingly, for the author/narrators grandchildren.. These same lectures, read by a better speaker, and edited professionally, would be great.

5 people found this helpful

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Too partisan

This sounded more like a op-ed piece than history. It's often anti-Catholic and overly sympathetic to the Arabs and North Africans who invaded Spain in the 7th century and occupied it until the 15th century ... to the extent that the author indulges a right of return for the descendants of the invaders. The occupation that the author celebrates as benevolent was based on the social and economic institutions of Apartheid and slavery. How in heaven's name can the enslavement and castration of boys and the enslavement and sexual exploitation of young girls be positioned as benevolent.

34 people found this helpful

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Listen before travel

This quickly moving course provided a great, broad description of Spain. When we traveled there immediately after I finished the course, I was more aware of the history and importance of what I saw. Truly helpful and enjoyable.

4 people found this helpful

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Okay, not great

This is a Teaching Company course on the history of Spain.

The lectures are fluent, well organized, and interesting.

Nonetheless compared with other similar Teaching Company courses (as well as similar lectures available on the internet), the content seemed superficial and lacking in analysis. Not bad if what you want in the audio equivalent of the history section of a good tourist guide to Spain; disappointing if you expect more than that.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ed
  • 04-12-21

Good but very much an overview

I found this history to be a good and interesting, rather upbeat, telling of Spain's story.

It is extremely brief. Half an hour to cover the 19th Century is really insufficient. But it whetted my appetite so it's still worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-03-18

Good

Narrator's voice kept breaking, bit annoying
Wars and battles skipped over a bit
Overall good

1 person found this helpful

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  • Master Ewan J. Johnstone
  • 06-07-18

Fairly lackluster, with a few good chapters.

fairly shallow overview, a bigger focus on culture than I would of liked; descriptions of famous architecture doesn't make for good audio.
I thought the chapters on gypsy and Jewish history respectively were interesting. I feel bad for bringing it up but the lecture did stumble on her words quite a lot, I guess they don't do retakes?

1 person found this helpful

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  • R Fretwell
  • 06-15-22

Enlightening and enjoyable

-except for the constant stumbling over words throughout…

It could have been even better with a little editing to correct the stammered and mispronounced words.

Overall very informative

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  • Williams Mark
  • 04-29-22

Interesting and varied

I really enjoyed this series, as a regular visitor to Spain, it expanded my knowledge and understanding of the culture. I thought that more attention could have been paid to the civil war, I have the feeling that like Spaniards, the civil war is something glossed over and not really a subject for an extended discussion.

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  • Mark Antony Lisle
  • 11-14-21

Amazing history of my chosen home

I always wondered about the history of Spain and this course completed it in detail showing the hidden history and explaining why Spain is such a hodge podge of cultures and social groups. A course for all Spanish students.

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  • nathan
  • 09-21-21

Great general history

Great read though a little too generous to Franco and Alphonso the 13th I think

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-21-21

Great insight into Spain.

Loved it, its a generic overview of Spanish history but really well presented. The only criticism is that I would have liked more on the Spanish civil war. However given the amount of material and time covered, I can understand why it wasnt. Highly recommended.

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  • Victoria H.
  • 04-23-21

Get to know Spain if you intend to live there.

An interesting Audio that has given me an understanding of Spain and it’s wonderful culture.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr S Deeley
  • 01-12-21

It's good and packed with interesting info but...

...it could do without the entire lecture dedicated to the rise of Islam. Although it is a key part of Iberian history, that lecture felt like a side-step into another course altogether. Furthermore, there are other scholars who have written more on the so-called 'convivencia' and how it wasn't so convivial as lectures like this would have us believe. At one pount, the professor takes a moment to scoff at the veracity of one, Christian myth but never once thinks to opine about the claims of Islamic articles of faith.

A very safe and fashionable take - and I write that as a non-believer.

There are also other sources of info on left-wing and anarchist terrorism (e.g. church burnings) which contributed to the run up towards Spain's right-wing backlash and subsequent civil war.

I write that as a small 'c' conservative.


I enjoyed it mostly, but all historians let show their naivety and biais.

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  • marty_mcfly
  • 04-14-22

Excellent overview of Spanish history

I gained a much greater understanding of Spain, it's people, culture and history from these serious of lectures. Beginning in BCE all the way up to 2010's this is a very good overview on Spain's history, while not meant to be detail driven I still felt there was enough there to satisfy. A great listen if you are planning a holiday in Spain. The lecturer must also be praised, keeping the narrative flowing well and clearly, she most obviously had a passion for Spain, and it shows (audibly) in her performance. Highly recommended.

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  • Padre
  • 11-18-21

Starts well but weak in modern history

Starts well in the area of the presenter’s strength. Makes some strange choices - a whole episode in the Roma seems excessive but minimal mention of internal struggles in Al-andulus. Towards the end becomes trenchantly anti-Catholic and ends up like a broadcast from the Spanish Tourism agency.

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  • Shane M Healy
  • 07-16-18

Must, before a visit to Spain

After visiting Spain over a number of years my appreciation of this fabulous country has been found wanting until I listened to these lectures. Colour and depth have been brought to the Spanish picture. A must before anyone idiots.