Crash Course World History

The WORST episodes of Crash Course World History

Every episode of Crash Course World History ever, ranked from worst to best by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The worst episodes of Crash Course World History!

John Green teaches you the history of the world.

Last Updated: 11/11/2022Network:YouTube
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War & Human Nature
star
6.75
4 votes

#1 - War & Human Nature

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired 7/31/2014

In which John Green teaches you about war! Specifically, John talks about whether humanity is naturally warlike, hard-wired to kill, or if perhaps war is a cultural construct. John will talk about the Hobbes versus Rousseau debate, the effects that war has on human social orders, and the effects that war has on individuals. So is war human nature? Watch and find out what we have to say about it.

Watch Now:Amazon
The Amazing Life and Strange Death of Captain Cook
star
7.00
4 votes

#2 - The Amazing Life and Strange Death of Captain Cook

Season 1 - Episode 27 - Aired 7/26/2012

In which John Green teaches you about the life and death of one of history's great explorers, Captain James Cook of the British Navy. He charted large swaths of the Pacific ocean, laid claim to Australia and New Zealand, and died a bizarre death in the Sandwich Islands, which are now called the Hawaiian Islands. Exactly how and why Captain Cook was killed in Hawaii is a long-running historical debate. John presents two interpretations of the event, and talks about what the differing interpretations say about history. It turns out how the story is told depends on who is doing the storytelling, and people from different backgrounds can interpret events in very different ways. Also, there is a celebration and a moustache involved in this episode, so you definitely don't want to miss it.

2,000 Years of Chinese History! The Mandate of Heaven & Confucius
star
7.17
6 votes

#3 - 2,000 Years of Chinese History! The Mandate of Heaven & Confucius

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 3/8/2012

In which John introduces you to quite a lot of Chinese history by discussing the complicated relationship between the Confucian scholars who wrote Chinese history and the emperors (and empress) who made it. Included is a brief introduction to all the dynasties in Chinese history and an introduction to Confucius and the Confucian emphasis on filial piety, the role the mandate of heaven played in organizing China, and how China became the first modern state.

The Vikings!
star
7.25
4 votes

#4 - The Vikings!

Season 2 - Episode 24 - Aired 2/4/2015

In which John Green teaches you about Vikings! That's right, one of our most requested subjects, the Vikings, right here on Crash Course. So what's the deal with Vikings? Well, the stuff you've heard about them may not be true. The Vikings weren't just pagan raiders striking terror into the hearts of defenseless European Christendom. They were some of the greatest travelers of their time, and they weren't always traveling to steal. In a lot of cases, they were traveling to trade. John will teach you about Viking trade goods, Norse Mythology, and yes, there will be blood, guts, and dragons. OK?

Watch Now:Amazon
Charles V and the Holy Roman Empire
star
7.67
3 votes

#5 - Charles V and the Holy Roman Empire

Season 2 - Episode 19 - Aired 12/5/2014

In which John Green teaches you about the Holy Roman Empire by teaching you about Charles V. Charles Hapsburg was the holy Roman Emperor, but he was also the King of Spain. And the King of Germany. And the King of Italy and the Lord of the Netherlands and Count Palatine of Burgundy. In short, Charles was runnin' thangs in much of the world during his reign. Charles ruled a lot of countries, and he was also known for encouraging intellectual discourse and he even spoke out against slavery, in a limited. So why did he consider himself a failure, and why did he break up the Empire when he abdicated in 1556? Mainly because the Holy Roman Empire didn't work very well. It was huge, and it didn't have any means of directly raising taxes. Plus, it was a pretty crazy time in Europe anyway, and Charles found himself in charge of the Catholic-Church-Endorsed Empire in the time of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. John will teach you a bit about how Charles put the Empire together, and how it fell apart, and even talk a bit about the Diet of Worms.

The Rise of the West and Historical Methodology
star
7.67
3 votes

#6 - The Rise of the West and Historical Methodology

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired 10/17/2014

In which John Green talks about the methods of writing history by looking at some of the ways that history has been written about the rise of the West. But first he has to tell you what the West is. And then he has to explain the Rise of the West. And then he gets down to talking about the different ways that historians and other academics have explained how the West became dominant in the world. He'll look at explanations from Acemoglu and Robinson's "Why Nations Fail," Francis Fukuyama's "The Origins of Political Order," and Ian Morris's "Why the West Rules, for Now."

Mesopotamia
star
7.71
7 votes

#7 - Mesopotamia

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 2/9/2012

In which John presents Mesopotamia, and the early civilizations that arose around the Fertile Crescent. Topics covered include the birth of territorial kingdoms, empires, Neo-Assyrian torture tactics, sacred marriages, ancient labor practices, the world's first law code, and the great failed romance of John's undergrad years

The Agricultural Revolution
star
7.90
10 votes

#8 - The Agricultural Revolution

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 1/26/2012

In which John Green investigates the dawn of human civilization. John looks into how people gave up hunting and gathering to become agriculturalists, and how that change has influenced the world we live in today. Also, there are some jokes about cheeseburgers.

Japan in the Heian Period and Cultural History
star
8.00
4 votes

#9 - Japan in the Heian Period and Cultural History

Season 2 - Episode 27 - Aired 3/4/2015

In which John Green teaches you about what westerners call the middle ages and the lives of the aristocracy...in Japan. The Heian period in Japan lasted from 794CE to 1185CE, and it was an interesting time in Japan. Rather than being known for a thriving economy, or particularly interesting politics, the most important things to come out of the Heian period were largely cultural. There was a flourishing of art and literature in the period, and a lot of that culture was created by women. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu was the classic piece of literature of the day, and it gave a detailed look into the way the Aristocrats of the Heian period lived. While this doesn't give a lot of insight into the lives of daily people, it can be very valuable, and the idea of approaching history from a cultural perspective is a refreshing change from the usual military or political history that survives from so many eras.

Indus Valley Civilization
star
8.00
7 votes

#10 - Indus Valley Civilization

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 2/2/2012

In which John Green teaches you about the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the largest of the ancient civilizations. John teaches you the who, how, when, where and why of the Indus Valley Civilization, and dispenses advice on how to be more successful in your romantic relationships.

Rethinking Civilization
star
8.00
4 votes

#11 - Rethinking Civilization

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/11/2014

In which John Green returns to teaching World History! This week, we'll be talking about the idea of civilization, some of the traditional hallmarks of so-called civilization, and why some people would choose to live outside the civilization model. It turns out, not everyone who lives outside of what we traditionally think of as a "civilized" social order is necessarily a barbarian! To defuse any tension you may be feeling, I'll just tell you now, the Mongols are back. You'll learn about Zomia, swidden agriculture, and even a little about anarchy!

Drought and Famine
star
8.00
3 votes

#12 - Drought and Famine

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 9/5/2014

In which John Green teaches you a little bit about drought, which is a natural weather phenomenon, and famine, which is almost always the result of human activity. Throughout human history, when food shortages strike humanity, there was food around. There was just a failure to connect those people with the food that would keep them alive. There are a lot of reasons that food distribution breaks down, and John is going to teach you about them in the context of the late-19th century famines that struck British India.

HOW World War I Started
star
8.00
3 votes

#13 - HOW World War I Started

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired 9/12/2014

In which John Green teaches you about World War I and how it got started. Crash Course doesn't usually talk much about dates, but the way that things unfolded in July and August of 1914 are kind of important to understanding the Great War. You'll learn about Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Pincep, the Black Hand, and why the Serbian nationalists wanted to kill the poor Archduke. You'll also learn who mobilized first and who exactly started the war. Sort of. Actually there's no good answer to who started the war, but we give it a shot anyway.

Nonviolence and Peace Movements
star
8.00
2 votes

#14 - Nonviolence and Peace Movements

Season 2 - Episode 28 - Aired 3/13/2015

In which John Green teaches you about nonviolence and peace movements in the 20th century. What is nonviolence? What is a peace movement? Well. traditionally, humans often resort to violence when they come into conflict. In the 20th century, it became much more common for people to enact change by means of nonviolence, and there was a common thread of connection between many of the most notable advocates of peaceful change. Crash Course will take you from Gandhi to Gregg to Bayard Rustin to Martin Luther King, Jr, to the Cold War to Arab Spring along a path of nonviolent resistance and peaceful change. It's pretty great.

The Persians & Greeks
star
8.17
6 votes

#15 - The Persians & Greeks

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 2/23/2012

In which John compares and contrasts Greek civilization and the Persian Empire. Of course we're glad that Greek civilization spawned modern western civilization, right? Maybe not. From Socrates and Plato to Darius and Xerxes, John explains two of the great powers of the ancient world, all WITHOUT the use of footage from 300.

Alexander the Great and the Situation... the Great?
star
8.25
4 votes

#16 - Alexander the Great and the Situation... the Great?

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 3/15/2012

In which you are introduced to the life and accomplishments of Alexander the Great, his empire, his horse Bucephalus, the empires that came after him, and the idea of Greatness. Is greatness a question of accomplishment, of impact, or are people great because the rest of us decide they're great? Also discussed are Kim Kardashian and the Situation, gender bias in history, Catherine the Great's death (not via horse love), the ardent love other generals--from Pompey the Great to Napoleon--had for Alexander, a bit of Persian history.

The Railroad Journey and the Industrial Revolution
star
8.33
3 votes

#17 - The Railroad Journey and the Industrial Revolution

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired 11/1/2014

In which John Green teaches you about railroads, and some of the ways they changed the world, and how they were a sort of microcosm for the Industrial Revolution as a whole. Prior to the invention of steam powered railroads, pretty much all locomotion had been muscle-powered. You either walked where you wanted to go, or rode on an animal to get where you were going. The railroad changed human perception of time and space, making long distance travel much faster and easier. Railroads also changed habits, including increasing reading. People needed some sort of distraction to ensure they didn't have to talk to other people on the train. Like any new technology, railroads also scared people. All kinds of fears surrounded rail travel, but over time, people got over them. And the quality of boiler manufacturing improved, so the trains exploded less often, which also made people feel safer.

Ancient Egypt
star
8.33
6 votes

#18 - Ancient Egypt

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 2/16/2012

In which John covers the long, long history of ancient Egypt, including the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, and even a couple of intermediate periods. Learn about mummies, pharaohs, pyramids and the Nile with John Green.

Money & Debt
star
8.33
3 votes

#19 - Money & Debt

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired 7/17/2014

In which John Green teaches about filthy, filthy lucre. Money. And Debt. So, what is money? And what is it for? And why do we use money? And why does it all disappear so quickly after payday? John will look into 75% of these questions, and if he doesn't come up with answers, we'll get into some interesting ideas along the way, at least. This week we'll investigate whether money displaces barter, then leads to war, slavery, and what we think of as civilized social orders. We'll also see what old Adam Smith thinks of big money, no whammies, this week on Crash Course.

Watch Now:Amazon
Disease!
star
8.33
3 votes

#20 - Disease!

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 7/24/2014

In which John Green teaches you about disease, and the effects that disease has had in human history. Disease has been with man since the beginning, and it has shaped the way humans operate in a lot of ways. John will teach you about the Black Death, the Great Dying, and the modern medical revolution that has changed the world.

Who Started World War I
star
8.33
3 votes

#21 - Who Started World War I

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 9/20/2014

In which John Green teaches you WHY World War I started. Or tries to anyway. With this kind of thing, it's kind of hard to assign blame to any one of the nations involved. Did the fault lie with Austria-Hungary? Germany? Russia? Julius Caesar? One thing we can say for sure is that you can't blame the United States of America for this one. Woohoo! Well, you can hardly blame the US.

Asian Responses to Imperialism
star
8.33
3 votes

#22 - Asian Responses to Imperialism

Season 2 - Episode 13 - Aired 10/24/2014

In which John Green teaches you about Imperialism, but not from the perspective of the colonizers. This week John looks at some Asian perspectives on Imperialism, specifically writers from countries that were colonized by European powers. We'll look at the writings of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani from the Middle East, Liang Qichao from China, and Rabindranath Tagore from India. these voices from the countries that were colonized give us a sense of how conquered people saw their conquerors, and gives an insight into what these nations learned from being dominated by Europe. It's pretty interesting, OK? A lot of this episode is drawn from a fascinating book by Pankaj Mishra called The Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia. You should read it.

Population, Sustainability, and Malthus
star
8.33
3 votes

#23 - Population, Sustainability, and Malthus

Season 2 - Episode 15 - Aired 11/7/2014

In which John Green teaches you about population. So, how many people can reasonably live on the Earth? Thomas Malthus got it totally wrong in the 19th century, but for some reason, he keeps coming up when we talk about population. In 1800, the human population of the Earth passed 1 billion, and Thomas Malthus posited that growth had hit its ceiling, and the population would level off and stop growing. He was totally right. Just kidding, he was totally wrong! There are like 7 billion people on the planet now! John will teach a little about how Malthus made his calculations, and explain how Malthus came up with the wrong answer. As is often the case, it has to do with making projections based on faulty assumptions. Man, people do that a lot.

The Silk Road & Ancient Trade
star
8.40
5 votes

#24 - The Silk Road & Ancient Trade

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 3/22/2012

The Silk Road and Ancient Trade: In which John Green teaches you about the so-called Silk Road, a network of trade routes where goods such as ivory, silver, iron, wine, and yes, silk were exchanged across the ancient world, from China to the West. Along with all these consumer goods, things like disease and ideas made the trip as well. As is his custom, John ties the Silk Road to modern life, and the ways that we get our stuff today.

Buddha & Ashoka
star
8.40
5 votes

#25 - Buddha & Ashoka

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 3/1/2012

In which John relates a condensed history of India, post-Indus Valley Civilization. John explores Hinduism and the origins of Buddhism. He also gets into the reign of Ashoka, the Buddhist emperor who, in spite of Buddhism's structural disapproval of violence, managed to win a bunch of battles.

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