This is a very readable book, however it is a book that I found easier to read, than listen to. The narration is often too quick for the listener to absorb what is taking, and keep up with Johnson's transitions from one topic to another. My recommendation is to buy the text, rather than the audio.
Paul Johnson always seems to have an optimistic view of our history. He writes with the pride of a new immigrant. Of course we have had some low moments, look at slavery or McCarthyism, but he looks at these as issues we have worked our way through. The narrator is a little annoying (or I would have given it 5 stars) but I found I could ignore her voice and concentrate on what she was saying
Richard Nixon regarded as the greatest politician and leader after Jefferson was surprising. Even the Nixon family would not have written this. File under historical fiction.
The author made a lot of assumptions from assumptions, especially in dealing with Native Americans. The natives of North America were not primitve and few. The numbers before the European diseases wiped them out down to the few (before any major settlements from Europe arrived) were in fact quite large. There were even abandoned settlements where European settlers just moved in. See the book "1491".
It was, however, very interesting to hear US History from a woman with a British Accent. I wich it had had less scope and more detail.
The last section was quite different from the America I grew up in. He brushes over or ignored Republican scandals but elaborated on Democratic scandals. he thought Watergate was nothing and harped on scandals of people who Johnson knew. He did not mention the Savings and Loan scandal under Bush, but mentioned ever manufactured scandal under Clinton. He also compared the civil right movement to Nazi Germany and declared that the glass ceiling for women does not exist. This makes me doubt the rest of the book.
Paul Johnson writes beautifully, and he covers all of the periods with his usual wit and intelligence. As with other books, I'm frequently amazed at his erudition and always enthralled by his prose. He does not hide his opinions for objectivity's sake. And especially in the twentieth century, his opinions often run quite contrary to the conventional wisdom. He lionizes Nixon, for instance. He does always back up his opinions with solid argumentation, so it is up to the reader to accept these or not.
Nadia May (one of a few names) is always good. Some people seem to find her voice off-putting. I have listened to several long books with her reading and always enjoyed them. Her few slips are hiliarious (she pronounces Schuylkill a few different ways, but never even close to correctly; also she reads Apollo 11 at "Apollo Two") but to be expected in a book of this length.
Overall, highly recommended as a broad narrative overview of American History from a somewhat right-of-center perspective.
An interesting, illuminating recap of how America came into being. You should know going in -- I did not -- that the author takes what feels like an astonishingly abrupt right political turn at about the start of the Nixon administration (perhaps even a little earlier than that), which left me questioning whether the relative impartiality of the first four-fifths of the book. Overall though, and with that important caveat, it made for an enjoyable read/listen.
The benefit of having really long books of history in audio format is that you can get through them relatively quickly without getting bogged down so much in terms and details.
This book was different from all the other books on American History that I have read so far in that it was a) written by a British historian and b) is more recent than anything I have read so far so that it continues far beyond where most of the previous books stopped.
The author’s perspective as a British writer allowed him to present unique insights into the colonial period in particular. He explained why the European countries went to the trouble of setting up colonies in the first place. He also pointed out the relationship between Barbados and the southernmost North American colonies, a factor that influenced their subsequent history.
He gave sketches of most of the presidents, giving more space to some of the presidents that most historians sort of gloss over and less than you would expect to some of the bigger name presidents (after the first few). But he also went into more detail about trends in American life and cultural issues than many of the other histories.
The author is decidedly a conservative and a laissez-faire capitalist, as shown in his treatment of the New Deal, the Social Security system, and many of the economic policies of the second half of the twentieth century. But it was refreshing to have a look at the history of this part of the century after so many years of having my study of history cut off in the 1880’s for lack of time to get to it.