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The Skeptic's Guide to American History | [The Great Courses]

The Skeptic's Guide to American History

To take a skeptical approach to American history is not to dabble in imaginative conspiracy theories; rather, it's to reframe your understanding of this great nation's past and actually strengthen your appreciation for what makes American history such a fascinating chapter in the larger story of Western civilization. And in this bold 24-lecture series, you can do just that.
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Publisher's Summary

To take a skeptical approach to American history is not to dabble in imaginative conspiracy theories; rather, it's to reframe your understanding of this great nation's past and actually strengthen your appreciation for what makes American history such a fascinating chapter in the larger story of Western civilization. And in this bold 24-lecture series, you can do just that.

Travel back in time and examine many commonly held myths and half-truths about American history and prompt yourself to think about what really happened in the nation's past - as opposed to what many believe happened. These lectures demonstrate how reconsidering some of the most popular notions of U.S. history can yield new (and sometimes startlingly different) interpretations of political, social, economic, and military events. But more than just debunking commonly accepted accounts, you'll be able to replace these misconceptions with insightful truths. Exploring both America's history and the verdicts that have been rendered about some of its most enduring figures - including George Washington, John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and many others - these lectures investigate a wide-ranging list of questions. What impact did other nations have on the American Revolution? Has George Washington always been revered as president? Do we now understand the true blunders in America's Vietnam policies and tactics?

In exploring these and other questions, these lectures prove themselves to be a delightful intellectual experience that will allow you to rethink not just the facts of U.S. history, but also their meaning.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    P. Smith wyoming 04-27-14
    P. Smith wyoming 04-27-14 Member Since 2013

    ps

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    "Not much of a skeptic."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone whose only exposure to history is what they 'learned' in public schools. For those with no additional exposure to history this would be an ok starting point, but his skepticism is borderline at best.


    Has The Skeptic's Guide to American History turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Skeptic's Guide to American History?

    The idiotic explanation of the Great Depression


    Any additional comments?

    I found this book puerile at best. Professor Stoler has either never heard of, or is deliberately avoiding discussion of some of the most important aspects of American History to wit:
    1. the role of the bankers and establishment politicians in destroying the anti-federalist papers, and forcing votes, including kidnapping representatives to obtain a quorum for votes during the constitutional ratification process
    2. The extensive correspondence between Robt. E. Lee and Lord Acton concerning the need to rein in the US federal government and the dire consequences for the world if this was not done (how prescient of them!)
    3. Anything other than warmed over Keynsian-light economics regarding the Great Depression e.g. Murray Rothbard's tome on that subject, or anything by Von Mises or Von Hayek.
    4, the recently declassified documents showing that Roosevelt ordered a course that would force the Japanese to attack including firing all the commanders the month before Pearl Harbor because they objected to their forces being, 'sitting ducks.'

    No, this is not a skeptic's history. This is a slight alteration of the standard government issued history.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Erickson 04-05-14
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    "A dissapointing purchase"
    What would have made The Skeptic's Guide to American History better?

    Less building of straw-men in order to tear them down to make his "point."


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'm not sure, but I will think twice before returning to The Great Courses series.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Mark A. Stoler?

    No, but I would like to take his course, if only to have the chance to argue his basic premises with him.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Skeptic's Guide to American History?

    This question is not really applicable to a lecture series.


    Any additional comments?

    I was very disappointed in this lecture series. I found more often than not that the speaker did little more than create straw-men in order to tear them apart, thus in his mind proving his arguments. Either I am way more knowledgeable than the common man in American history or this professor has been exposed to a wide number of extraordinarily stupid individuals. No one that I know or grew up with, to my knowledge or recollection believed even one-eighth of the dribble the professor try’s to pass off as common myths about American history. I was hoping for some in depth deconstruction of American myths, and while he does offer some interesting factual data in the course of his lectures, these little tidbits do little to bring the entire lecture series up to the caliber I expected when I purchased this series.

    Let me be clear here; I do not in any way wish to imply that Professor Stoler isn't a well educated man, and I would guess that if I were to be in a class of his, we would have some very stimulating discussions, but being a student of history who thrives on the give and take between student and teacher, I found his lectures annoying due to the inability to call him on what I perceive to be his fallacies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maura E McDonough 01-21-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Engaging ideas from a brilliant thinker"
    What does Professor Mark A. Stoler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    This is the second series of lectures I've listened to by Professor Stoler. I've never found American History as engaging as world history. Professor Stoler's enthusiasm, depth and clarity have brushed away a lot of the over-simplification and obfuscation that have informed my prejudice to regard these topics as dull. I very much appreciate Stoler's ability to engage while maintaining a high intellectual level, and to present various perspectives from those who experienced and caused these events, and from historians of different periods.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 05-05-14
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 05-05-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A fresh take, honestly."

    A nice crash course that starts at the beginning. If the idea of a "sceptic's" approach to studying history is new to you, and you studied history only in high school, some of the facts presented will make you look at many events in a completely new way. I've spent the last year reading history, and still, at least 60% of his material was new to me. I felt like his economic analysis of the Roosevelt years was sound, but overlooked a several facts that led Paul Krugman to what I think is a more convincing conclusion in Krugman's "Conscience Of A Liberal". I found the material on the early republic and the 19th century to be fascinating. Especially important is the fact that the United States was never intended to be have the system that is does today. The way that I was tought history was that the founders wanted a completely democratic nation with equal opportunity for all, religious tolerance, and poplar government. If you still believe this myth, I recommend checking out these lectures.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Sacramento, US, Canada 10-23-13
    John Sacramento, US, Canada 10-23-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Superficial"
    What would have made The Skeptic's Guide to American History better?

    More in depth information


    Has The Skeptic's Guide to American History turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Did the best he could with the material


    Any additional comments?

    Great Promise. Poor Execution

    2 of 13 people found this review helpful
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