OK, this is not serious, footnoted analytical history, of the kind I like to read (or tell myself "it is good for me"), but that kind of history doesn't often lend itself to good audio-listening. American Lightning does. It recovers the biography of the Burns detective agency, a story I did not know, it does a nice recounting of the wave of "anarchist" and organized labor bombings of symbols of capitalism in the first decade of the 20th century, including how famed lawyer Clarence Darrow got intertwined with it. And it (less successfully) incorporates the roots of the modern movie business in New York & S California in that period too.
The book is well-written & very well-read. It passes by as if effortlessly as an audiobook, although I suspect it would be more annoying to read due to some of its organizational jumpiness.
I recommend it very highly. Both for itself and, if it tickles your interest further, in directing the reader to learn more about the three protagonists in other books elsewhere.
Even if you think you know quite a bit about the Greek/Persian wars, the Peloponnesian war and the wars between Rome & Carthage, Prof Shutt provides a lecture with interesting surprises and interpretations of what happened a couple of thousand years ago, how it has been remembered (rightly or wrongly) and how it is relevant to the world of today (surprisingly so).
This audiobook successfully brings to life the politics of the middle ages, a period that is little studied in secondary or post-secondary institutions. You get to know Charlemagne ... Charles ... the dynastic machinations, complex relationship with the Vatican, incessant warring among the former "barbarian" groups that overthrew Rome a few hundred years before. I think I would have benefitted by having a map of the period in front of me, since I struggled to understand what was happening where. But that is my own fault, not the book's fault. The narration was peculiar ... with the quotations delivered as if in an echo chamber, to differentiate it from the regular text. But I found that endearing, not irritating. This is a fairly heavy history volume, and the style of narration made it much easier to take that is sometimes the case with other history audiobooks.
I majored in classical history and studied this period pretty intensely - but that was twenty years ago. For me this was a wonderful refresher, engaging and fast-paced and very informative. I can't recommend it enough if you're interested in the period.
I've knocked the Performance score because, while the narrator is quite good, there are a lot slightly over-long pauses, especially in the beginning. There are also numerous instances where you can hear him swallow or make other little noises, which is something I don't ever remember hearing on an audiobook before. I assume it was the producers fault. It's a minor distraction from a great listen.