Anne Hutchinson, Cotton Mather, Ben Franklin, Tom Paine, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, among others, are all presented in a fresh perspective. Wherever possible, letters, diaries, and recorded conversations are used to ensure a sense of actuality.
This is an in-depth portrait of a great people, from their fragile origins and struggles for independence, to their heroic efforts and sacrifices to deal with the "organic sin" of slavery and the preservation of the Union, to their explosive economic growth and emergence as the world's greatest superpower.
©1997 Paul Johnson; (P)1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Johnson is a lively writer (more so than nearly all other historians), and May's reading is sensitive to Johnson's wit and sharp comments....Her reading is lively, crisp, and sharp throughout." (AudioFile)
"A magnificent achievement...brilliantly combines broad sweep with extraordinary detail." (Wall Street Journal)
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 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.
I listened to this while doing a bathroom demo at work with my Bluetooth ear buds. never have I learned so much at work!
it really captures the truth on how religion founded this country, and how today we have moved away from religion. liberal movements and literature want to hide that facet of America, but this history book covers it unbiasedly, in an informative way. it is wrong to change history according to your beliefs. slavery is an example. we all agree it is wrong, so should it be erased from our history? no. instead we have learned from it and have made better choices.
this book seems to follow the president's and general cultural ideas, zooming in periodically on interesting characters, though rarely.
what I have learned is that the corruption we see in political persons today, is actually common throughout American history. it is unfortunate, but is comforting in a way. at least we're not all going to hell in a hand basket from recent events, in fact we've been moving in that direction from the beginning..!
my favorite section is on the western expansion and how the cowboy era really was only 25 years, but has been immortalized from romanticizationalism. yes, a new word.
Interesting to hear the conservative take on American history...didn't get obvious until the discussion of abortion, decline of mainstream churches and education. It helps to hear these views spoken by a British nanny - less infuriating.
There are so many times in history books or news articles where what happened was spun to serve someone purpose. This is the kind of book which will dig deeper and shed some light on these subjects and they suddenly seem less "black and white". Overall an amazing book with loads of information, although hard to stay focused on at times because of its thoroughness.
A great comprehensive view of American history. With no pretensions or excuses Mr Johnson explains the complexity through the lives of great statesman.
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