Editor reviews

The History of the United States, 2nd Edition, is by The Great Courses and is a historical audiobook part of their Modern History series. This book has been narrated by three award-winning leaders in U.S Studies – Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Professor Gary W. Gallagher and Professor Patrick N. Allitt. This all-encompassing study of The United States of America starts at its roots with European settlement to the tremendously powerful nation it is today. This is an essential listen for those attempting to understand its history, culture, people and role in world politics and economies. Available now from Audible.
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This comprehensive series of 84 lectures features three award-winning historians sharing their insights into this nation's past - from the European settlement and the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, 19th-century industrialization, two world wars, and the present day.
While American history spans not much more than two centuries, it is filled with a wealth of leaders, wars, movements, inventions, and ideas - each of which contributed in its own unique way to America's transformation from 13 disparate colonies on the east coast of North America into a global superpower.
These lectures give you the opportunity to grasp the different aspects of our past that combine to make us distinctly American, and to gain the knowledge so essential to recognizing not only what makes this country such a noteworthy part of world history, but the varying degrees to which it has lived up to its ideals.
The lectures chart the five predominant themes that run throughout the chronicle of U.S. history:

The American passion for freedom-including religious, political, and economic freedom.
The pursuit of education, which has been the quintessential way for Americans to invent (and reinvent) themselves.
The unquestioned faith in the value of popular government.
The willingness of Americans to experiment with and adapt to new environments and situations.
The belief that the United States is a "city on the hill," a country the likes of which the world has never seen before.
Placing familiar historical events in the context of these overarching themes will help you see American history less as a series of separate events and more as a mosaic in which everything is interconnected.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Richard Batty on 28-09-14

Excellent overview

What made the experience of listening to The History of the United States, 2nd Edition the most enjoyable?

It was a riveting overview of American History, with a good balance of political, social, and economic topics. It was so good that I've been listening to it at almost any spare moment when I've been walking, commuting, or cooking.

The lecturers were engaging teachers and the depth was just right for an introductory audio course - not too academic but also not dumbed down. I feel that I have a much better grasp of the broad sweep of American history and can now go on to learn in more depth about particular topics.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of the United States, 2nd Edition?

I particularly enjoyed the discussion of economic and social topics in the late 19th century as the US expanded westwards and became more industrialised. There were some wonderful lectures on the challenges of western expansion, the consequences of industrialisation, and the attitudes to gender of the time.

Any additional comments?

I wish the third lecturer had explained why the Democratic and Republican parties seem to have switched ideological places in the mid-twentieth century.

Also, audible should provide the option of buying the PDF guide that comes with Great Courses courses - it would be helpful for reviewing what I've learned.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Catlyn on 08-12-16

Good introduction, slightly uneven

This is a very long lecture series as their subject matter requires. The speakers are good and the lecture series covers history pretty well.

The only issue that I had was that not all history was covered evenly. Especially the modern part was slightly rushed. Also, the side of natives could have been covered a bit more. But it is understandable why they didn't have time, series is already 43+ hours.

Overall, definitely recommend this to anyone interested in US history who wants to get started.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Christina on 09-09-14


This is my third Great Courses lecture series, and it was as amazing as the other two. I especially enjoyed Professor Guelzo's enthusiasm, which was contagious, but I give high marks to all three. They did a great job of breaking the series at logical points, which makes it possible to break off listening for a bit while you go read or listen to something less weighty, then come back and pick it up, no problem. I really feel, after listening to this series, that I have a more well-rounded grasp on American history, more than just the cold dates and facts. The various eras and the individuals who left their marks really came alive for me. I'm so glad that Audible and The Great Courses have teamed up! And now off to find another new favorite.

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28 of 28 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Tommy D'Angelo on 01-10-16

Had its Ups and Downs

What did you like best about The History of the United States, 2nd Edition? What did you like least?

It is hard to review this course in whole since the three professors’ styles are so different but while I was hoping for more (the treatment of some events felt lacking) the course certainly covers other areas very well.

Lecture Breakdown:
Professor Guelzo (Lectures 1-36) - Colonization to mid 19th century
Professor Gallagher (Lectures 37-48) - American Civil War era
Professor Allitt (Lectures 49-84) - Late 19th century into the 21st century

Professor Guelzo
- It felt like almost no detail of American history was left out in his comprehensive and expansive survey; Surprisingly it did not start with England’s colonial expeditions but the expeditions of Europe, in general, of North and South America

- The Professor was passionate about the content, had a fondness for the characters, and could tell a good story/successfully leave you at a dramatic cliffhanger

- Lecture 9 on the French and Indian War

- While Professor Guelzo is a great story-teller and cliff-hanger master, at times his penchant for dramatizing just about everything and using longer than usual sentences made it difficult at times to follow certain points without rewinding; There were times I’d rather the professor had stated straight facts about an event or results of an event vs overdramatizing since it seemed like certain facts were either missing or got lost in the “story”

Professor Gallagher
- He is one of my favorite lecturers in the Great Courses stable (along with Professor Vandiver) and delivered an excellent detailed narrative of the origins of the Civil War, the military history of the war, and study into non-military events such as the emancipation, life on the home front, the diplomatic front, etc.

- Lecture 46 on Reconstruction after Civil War

- He provided a great detailed narrative that is pretty straight forward making it easy to understand

- The professor had a habit of modulating his voice between speaking really low to really loud; He’d start a sentence too loud and end it too low; This made it very difficult at times to select a volume that would prevent me from having difficulty hearing him without being annoyed by the loud bursts

Professor Allitt
- Professor Allitt did a good job of articulating the evolution and transformation of society from an isolationist, primarily agricultural country to the highly industrialized world power the US had become

- Lectures 62-63 on World War I

- Lecture 84 Reflections and main themes (this course had one of the best concluding lectures I've listened to)

- For the most part I couldn’t get into his lectures: I was hoping he’d provide more background or facts around certain historical events (vs. in some cases treating events in passing like the Spanish-American War)

- He concluded his lectures in a somewhat abrupt manner: there wasn’t much summation of the key points of the lecture or a preview of what the next lecture had in store so there were times when the professor would make a point and suddenly there’d be applause to mark the end of the lecture without any warning that it was winding down!

Overall: I found "Turning Points in American History" a much better course on U.S. history but I also can't say this was a bad course. Was it worth my time? I'm still sort of undecided. There certainly was good but when it is dispersed among 42 hours and there is also alot of other time when I felt myself zoning out, I'm not too sure of my final feelings on this course.

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70 of 72 people found this review helpful

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