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)
I have given copies to my children, my students, and my friends. His ability to use statistics in a way that is both interesting and illuminating is outstanding. He has strong opinions, but he substantiates them with facts. This book is ideal for sparking class discussion - and for being an example of scholarly debate should be conducted.
If the performer were different.
Yes, if she is not reading.
NO, NEVER, AWFUL. She was hard to follow, very little emotion, no voice inflections. It was awful. Waste of money.
Have no idea. Couldn't listen to it. It was awful.
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.
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.
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.
Not written by a historian but by a journalist
I enjoyed her
I have previous read many biographies on the people he discussed and he makes too many errors in facts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, but not really practical, given how long this book is!
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.
I've read hundreds of history books, most having to do with America history and this is probably as good of a single volume as you'll come accross. There is almost no fluff and it moves along at a fairly good pace even if it is almost 50 hours long -- personally I would have loved a much longer book but then it wouldn't be a single volume any longer. Since I've read so much already on the subject there wasn't a ton of new information here for me, but for most people I highly doubt this would be an issue.
There is very little in the book I disagree with and the author, although a conservative, remains most balanced throughout. I felt he might have been a bit harsh on Andrew Jackson and JFK, but even then my disagreements where only in matters of degree, not in terms of the author being wrong. Also I feel he might have downplayed Reagan a bit - the author gives him credit but maybe not in the way I would. Regardless it's very interesting to hear a different take on something from someone that is more detached than myself.
Since the author is not an American he does seem to come of as detached on issues like slavery, north and south and Republican and Democrat. This is why the book is GREAT. He is a conseravtive but isn't pushing a political party - he's doing what writers of history should do and that is tell the story of what has happened from his point of view instead of pushing an agenda.
As for the reader she does a good job. To be honest I've heard her on various other books and at times I have a problem with the accent in that it just bothers me after hours of listening. I did warm up to it however and she really does do a good job - the issue with the accent is my own which is why I believe a 4-star rating is fair.
If you want to learn as much as possible about American history -- if you want to know what really happened and not the PC nonsense that is taught in school -- or if you just want a refresher on why America is good - this is an excellent book.
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