The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.
CRASH COURSE WORLD HISTORY
Crash Course World History is what I wished history was like when I was a child.
Here’s what I learned from world history from my school days : Egypt -> Greecerome ->Blurry mediavalrenaissance -> Columbus -> Discovery of the Americas -> Spanish Conquest -> Independence -> Mexican Revolution -> World War 2. That’s about it. Nothing about what happened in Asia or Africa or the rest of Latin America that wasn’t Mexico or Europe that wasn’t a major player in World War 2. I felt like it was so incomplete.
Crash Course World History fills in the gaps and also sets the record straight on something that I had suspected long ago: that the history we know is biased and not terribly objective, mostly because we want simple explanations to complex situations, but also because we cling to symbols and ideas that are far from objective.
John Green, the host of Crash Course World History takes us from the dawn of civilization and the earliest civilization known, the Hindu Valley civilization, and from that point, it slowly expands to all the important groups, events and structures that formed the subsequent civilizations. You finally get to understand why Mesopotamia and Egypt were so important and what the difference between Greece and Rome is.
The approach to history is also quite unique in the sense that while great political and important leaders are taken into account, history is taught as driven by diverse factors such as technology, commerce, religion, ideas, structures, diseases (not everything was nice) as well as the collective actions of millions of individuals. For example, you get to understand that the Silk Route was way, way more important and influential than the Crusades.
In addition, there’s the benefit of understanding concepts and civilizations from several different perspectives, and not only the oversimplified explanations and stereotypes we’re used to, which gives us a much more complete image of our past as humans.
Another great aspect of World History Crash Course is that you get to know a non European-centered version of history. I finally found out about the Chinese Empire, the West African kingdoms, the Eastern African City States, the Islamic World and why it was so influential, the Byzantine and Persian empires and their “sandwich status,” the Indian Ocean Trade Network, which was as important as the Silk Road, etc.
Religion is also covered and the series does a great job at explaining their origins and main ideas without falling into the trap of controversy. Most importantly, it explains why and how each main religion expanded and was adopted by the countries that profess them to this day.
While not the focus of the show, great figures still play an important role. You learn the important facts about Julius Cesar, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lion-Heart, Saladin, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Constantine, etc. You also get to learn about some very important figures that were left out of your history books, like Mansa Musa, mostly because they weren’t European.
Now, here’s the best thing about Crash Course World History: it’s freakin’ easy and freakin’ fun! Each chapter lasts about 12 minutes and they really feed you only the important things that you need to know to understand the material, so you never feel overwhelmed by the amount of information (if anything, it makes me feel wanting to know more!).
Also, the style of the show is filled with jokes, modern references, and other types of humor that make the viewing an upbeat experience. The video is well done and the graphics that they use during certain parts of the video are simple, funny and attention grabbing.
After each chapter, I go to Wikipedia to learn more about a name, a war, an event, or a concept that they mentioned in the video but didn’t dwell on. That’s how good the series is.
So, that’s why Crash Course World History is my YouTube series of the year. I would like to know what is your YouTube series of the year as well.