A Crash Course in World History

Give John Green 40 weeks, and Green will give you a play­ful and high­ly visu­al crash course in world his­to­ry, tak­ing you from the begin­ning of human civ­i­liza­tion 15,000 years ago through to our mod­ern age. If you’re not famil­iar with him, Green is a best­selling author of sev­er­al young adult books (Look­ing for Alas­ka, An Abun­dance of Kather­ines, and Paper Towns). He’s also part of the pop­u­lar vlog­broth­ers and an active Twit­ter user with more than 1.1 mil­lion fol­low­ers — that’s about 22 times what we have, to put things in per­spec­tive.

The series starts with The Agri­cul­tur­al Rev­o­lu­tion (above) and the Indus Val­ley Civ­i­liza­tion (below). New video install­ments will be released through­out the year here. And more uni­ver­si­ty-lev­el his­to­ry cours­es can be found in our big col­lec­tion of 1,300 Free Cours­es Online.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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Comments (16)
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  • Corinna Spickermann says:

    This is great!
    Maybe a bit fast­ly spo­ken for some lis­ten­ers? Should­n’t you name Jared Dia­mond as a first thinker who looked at his­to­ry this way?

    Very inter­est­ing thought: Most soci­eties chose agri­cul­ture, but was this a good choice? Is the crowd real­ly that intel­li­gent or is it 50% not? Or 70 %? Are there the­o­ries about crowd intel­li­gence com­ing lat­er? Thank you.

  • Jay Stark says:

    What a great series. My prob­lem is that if my atten­tion won­ders (thanks to the oth­er inter­est­ing info on your web page) I will miss some of the great mono­logue.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Ramanuj Shastry says:

    Fab­u­lous stuff. Look for­ward to the whole series. The humour and pace makes it very watch wor­thy. Well done!

  • Stacey Flynn says:

    These are won­der­ful, but please slow it down for all the ELL learn­ers and those who read with cap­tions.

  • k nichols says:

    This is the per­fect teach­ing mode for most stu­dents mid­dle school+ If I could just speak that fast…

  • Sergio Salinas says:

    ¡Awsome, incred­i­ble and ter­ri­bly fun­ny! Thanks for shar­ing this.

  • Kerry Levingston says:

    Intel­li­gent, thought-pro­vok­ing, delight­ful. I like this guy.

  • Molly says:

    I stum­bled upon this through Hol­ly Tuck­er’s Twit­ter feed. So fun and thought­ful! Love his­to­ry with a lit­tle life to it! :)

  • Mehmet Arat says:

    Very inter­est­ing sim­pli­fi­ca­tion.
    It is also inter­est­ing to start this with a ham­burg­er.

  • kerry says:

    this is a great series (at least the first two)! i’m a home­school­ing par­ent and his­to­ry major. gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, i can’t stand most stuff claim­ing to cov­er world his­to­ry; i was very pleas­ant­ly sur­prised with this! and my 9 and 7.5 yr olds love it. :)

    one point you may want to rethink: for­ag­ing and agri­cul­ture are not *usu­al­ly* an either/or for most soci­eties. in fact, in greece (which has had agri­cul­ture for prob­a­bly the longest in all of europe), col­lect­ing wild greens or arti­choke and bring­ing them home for din­ner is a spe­cial treat (and not uncom­mon). in this coun­try at least as recent as the Great Depres­sion, for­ag­ing for mush­rooms and wild plants and frogs were com­mon. to this day there are peo­ple here who for­age, but these days they are more fringe than main­stream.

    it seems that foraging/agriculture is usu­al­ly a bal­ance that shifts with time, pri­or­i­ties (like the 1950s love affair with “sci­ence” and there­fore TV din­ners and for­mu­la, et al), tech­nol­o­gy, resources (there being very lit­tle unpol­lut­ed places to for­age in this coun­try these days), and oth­er fac­tors.

    this slow process of shift­ing bal­ance seems pret­ty ubiq­ui­tous (at least from what i’ve seen), and is in sup­port of your the­sis that rev­o­lu­tions are a process of irrev­o­ca­ble choic­es instead of an event.

    we are look­ing for­ward to the next install­ment! :)

  • Sean says:

    I think the phrase is be a bet­ter boyfriend

  • joan says:

    dododopdis­ah xjs xjjjjj

  • EWOcean says:

    The videos on Crash Course are incred­i­bly humor­ous, infor­ma­tive, enter­tain­ing and col­or­ful. I love it! My dad enjoys it too which is a big thing. It’s a pity next week is the last episode. Nev­er­the­less, I would love to hear more (hope­ful­ly) in the near future and more host­ing by John Green. :)

  • stevelaudig says:

    Does any­one else find it rather shal­low and rem­i­nis­cent of cot­ton can­dy? A lit­tle sug­ar and lots of air?

  • Will Peterson says:

    While slav­ery WAS appro­pri­ate in ancient Greece, the state­ment that Slav­ery was not a con­cept of Per­sia is mis­lead­ing. Every­one except Xerx­es was con­sid­ered a slave at this time. If it was­n’t giv­en the name of slav­ery, the fact is that peo­ple in the Per­sian Empire had to be fear­ful of the regime at ALL TIMES.

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