One of my favorite items at the library is the Portable Professor/Modern Scholar series of lectures from Recorded Books. Beside the fact that they are incredible material, they are also free when I get them from the library. I rip the CD’s to my computer and then sync them with my iPod. They give me hours of intellectual stimulation.
When you spend as much time traveling by foot or bike as I do, you need something to occupy your mind. I use audiobooks to keep the brain moving, but sometimes it is hard to download books from our library that I will enjoy. The Modern Scholar lectures generally fill the gap when books aren’t available.
Thomas Madden is one of my favorite lecturers from the series. I’ve listened to several of his courses now, and I have another one – “A History of Venice: Queen of the Seas” on the docket soon. Among the courses I’ve enjoyed, this one – titled “Sword and Cross” in the Portable Professor series and “God Wills It!” in the Modern Scholar series – stands out.
I love the Middle Ages, all the intrigues and missteps, and no one does the Middle Ages like Madden. When I first encountered him in “Empire of Gold”, I knew I had found a historian worth listening to. In his somewhat understated style he takes you through some of the most tempestuous periods of history with clarity.
The Portable Professor edition is no longer available, but the Modern Scholar version is the same thing. If you’ve ever wondered about the Crusades, check it out. Just don’t buy it. I guarantee a local library near you has it or can get it (unless you live somewhere other than Southern New Hampshire, which is the Promised Land of lending libraries.