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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A Fine Documentary Series.

8/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
9 March 2010

Well, I suppose opinions may differ, but I thought this was a splendid series from the History Channel, both informative and entertaining.

It's not ONLY about engineering, which was great with me -- a non-engineer -- and it focuses on two or three of the more memorable structures or, more generally, engineering triumphs, in each episode.

These achievements aren't presented sui generis. Each is given a historical context, a reason for being. If Polycrates of Samos is at war and is afraid that his city may be isolated from its water supply, which is on the other side of a great mountain, he builds a tunnel through the mountain that slopes downward from the spring to the city. That's why he built this demoniacally complicated affair. And how did Polycrates do it? He did it by using high-school level plane geometry, that's how.

Peter Weller makes an occasional appearance on each site, although he's not the narrator. I admire Peter Weller a lot, not so much as an individual but as a type. He had an active career on the movie screen, not an outstanding one, and he could have lived off that. But, like Bob Cosby, his intellectual curiosity simultaneously led him in a different direction. He acquired academic credentials and now is a professor affiliated with Syracuse University. If I'd taken that job offer many years ago he'd have been my colleague and I'd have been proud of it.

I haven't seen all the episodes yet but I have the impression that a few details have been skipped or simplified. It's good to know that the Athenians lifted the pieces of each column of the Parthenon by means of cranes, but it would have been helpful if it had been explained that, with a pulleys, you lift a great weight with a lesser force by moving the free end of the pulley a greater distance. I'm not sure I've used the right terms here but the idea is simple enough to take only a minute to explain on the screen.

Anyway, there are reenactments of a sort. We see a few of the historical figures sweeping around the things they built. But none of it is pretentious. No CGIs of a thousand warriors clashing. No cast of thousands. Just a couple of people in period dress so we can put a name to the face.

Anyone with more intellectual curiosity than your average armadillo should find this interesting. I realize that leaves out a lot of people.

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4 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

lots of rotten people and a few good ones

9/10
Author: dantown from United States
4 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well Greece was pretty good, I guess.That is the best I can say about the behavior of the several Empires explored in this fine,exceptional video. The Persian rulers live today as totalitarian rats-but I can't name them or some loser from the IMDb COMMUNITY will delete my review.The Persians-today called The I-----s,sent their precious little 10-year-old sons against the Iraqis, to clear mines,and lose limbs, in their war with the Iraqis, back in the early 1980's. The ancient Chinese emperor sent his peasants to build his idiotic Great Wall, and thus killed hundreds,thousands, and hundreds of thousands to their deaths-who were then buried in the putative "Great Wall". It was de facto, a pogrom against the peasants. Meanwhile, The great and stupid Peter the Great, in Russia,commanded HIS peasants to build this god-awful city,Saint Petersburg, with their bare hands: No tools, just hands. Peter of course was a "genius"Please don't laugh.As was his friend-in-stupidity,Catherine the Great, who had a great vagina or something.Meanwhile,back in Mexico City, the Aztecs had a habit of cutting the hearts out of "prisoners of war" in order to propitiate the gods of sunlight and of the harvest.Strangely, The Aztecs had a military-genocide-industrial complex: They constantly waged war. Their constant,unrelenting war-economy fed an unlimited supply of prisoners for the priests at the top of their pyramids,run by the psychos who cut the hearts out of POWs.This video is an excellent intro to human history.It truly tells you "how to smell a rat".Maybe your University Professor would,pray tell,learn from this video. Or maybe, he/she, is a rat as well.

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