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A History of the American People | [Paul Johnson]

A History of the American People

Johnson's monumental history of the United States, from the first settlers to the Clinton administration, covers every aspect of American culture: politics, business, art, literature, science, society and customs, complex traditions, and religious beliefs. The story is told in terms of the men and women who shaped and led the nation and the ordinary people who collectively created its unique character.
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Publisher's Summary

Johnson's monumental history of the United States, from the first settlers to the Clinton administration, covers every aspect of American culture: politics, business, art, literature, science, society and customs, complex traditions, and religious beliefs. The story is told in terms of the men and women who shaped and led the nation and the ordinary people who collectively created its unique character.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (273 )
5 star
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Overall
4.1 (127 )
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Story
4.1 (126 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Francis J DiBona 07-17-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "American History"

    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

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EUGENE WALTHAM, MA, United States 09-28-10
    EUGENE WALTHAM, MA, United States 09-28-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Very informative BUT"

    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.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 10-05-10
    Robin 10-05-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Not much different than a HS text book"

    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.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 06-26-15
    Sharon 06-26-15
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    "Ugh..... Awful"
    Would you try another book from Paul Johnson and/or Nadia May?

    If the performer were different.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Paul Johnson again?

    Yes, if she is not reading.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Nadia May’s performances?

    NO, NEVER, AWFUL. She was hard to follow, very little emotion, no voice inflections. It was awful. Waste of money.


    What character would you cut from A History of the American People?

    Have no idea. Couldn't listen to it. It was awful.


    Any additional comments?

    I am really interested in the subject of this book. It is assigned for my History class. This woman was horrible. I love audio books and she was torture. I would listen again if it were performed by someone else. Good grief. Trying to listen is an exercise in frustration. Never again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyler O'Neil Denver, CO 02-24-15
    Tyler O'Neil Denver, CO 02-24-15 Member Since 2013

    J-rising

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    "Excellent History, Very Enlightening"

    Johnson brings a fresh perspective to American History that helps us realize the unsung heroes (like James K. Polk and Warren Harding) as well as the blatant farces (the 1960 election) of US History. His treatment is very satisfying to a student of western, modern, and American history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Wilmington NC, United States 02-12-15
    Brad Wilmington NC, United States 02-12-15
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    "Thorough and interesting"

    There were a couple if glitches in the audio, but overall clear. Also, at least one factual error. Ford was seriously challenged by Reagan in 1976.
    Nonetheless, illuminating book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dadeli 11-22-14
    dadeli 11-22-14 Member Since 2009
    ratings
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    "Too many mistakes."
    What disappointed you about A History of the American People?

    Not written by a historian but by a journalist


    What was most disappointing about Paul Johnson’s story?

    Inaccuracies


    Have you listened to any of Nadia May’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I enjoyed her


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I have previous read many biographies on the people he discussed and he makes too many errors in facts.


    Any additional comments?

    I suggest listening to some of the teaching company histories or individual biographies on some of the people mentions. This is really a history of great men not about the American people per se.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Haviv 08-26-13
    Haviv 08-26-13
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    "Wonderfully informative"

    Written in sweeping, thoughtful prose. It's not just a history of America, but of the interaction between America and the world in which it developed in each generation. The reader is a bit boring. A less formal and more relaxed voice would read better, in my view.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 06-23-13
    John 06-23-13
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    5
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    "If you want history, this is it"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A History of the American People to be better than the print version?

    Obviously a commitment given its length but well worth it. So well written and read!

    The comments about the author skewing towards a conservative bent were unfair. His views were not the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex 05-07-13
    Alex 05-07-13

    alex_799

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful -- but too short."
    What did you love best about A History of the American People?

    The author's fair and evenhanded treatment of our history. Johnson is an Englishman, and this makes his views more interesting of course -- irrational perhaps, but true. This is probably why Alexis de Tocqueville's study of America so fascinates.


    What other book might you compare A History of the American People to and why?

    Paul Johnson's "Modern Times" was a book I read some years ago, and the compulsive readability of that history reminds me of this book.


    What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

    She is at all times clear and concise. She uses accents sparingly and to good effect. And her own British accent is both pleasing (silly isn't it, how we Americans LOVE British accents!) and appropriate, given that it reflects the author himself.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but not really practical, given how long this book is!


    Any additional comments?

    Some reviewers accuse the author of "bias". This is spurious, given that ANY history that is not just an utterly dry recitation of dates and events requires the author to make judgements and -- after offering evidence -- express opinions.

    That said, I guess there is no denying that those who regard FDR and JFK to have been flawless demigods; angels in human form descended from heaven to bless our poor republic with their holy powers my have some slight difficulty with the judgements expressed in this book.

    In addition, those who consider Richard Nixon to have been a demon in human shape, an enemy of all that is right and good and pure, may in a similar fashion take exception to Paul Johnson's view of things.

    On the whole I found the book a wonderful breath of fresh, politically incorrect air. Johnson shows America "warts and all". The damned evil of slavery for instance -- that original sin that so twisted and tortured the first hundred years of our republic (and whose death agonies haunt us still, right up to this day) -- is dealt with unflinchingly, with no excuses entertained, but without hyperbole.

    The history of the American Indians (and yes, Johnson calls them INDIANS throughout the book, with no apologies) is likewise treated. The author does not at any time excuse injustices done against this people (or rather plural: PEOPLES, a very important fact to understand) but neither does he engage in the condescending business of elevating them to the status of utterly wise and flawless citizens of the Earth, in tune with nature and without any human weakness. That attitude is nothing more than a modern version of "the noble savage".

    In short, this book is thought-provoking and endlessly engaging. You do not have to agree with everything the author thinks to enjoy this book, and profit from it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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