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
You do know all that stuff you learned about American history in school was simplified, right? And, in a certain sense, it was propaganda: a narrative intended, in this case, to give young people the feeling that they are heirs to a righteous cause, whether we were opponents of tyranny, barbaric natives, evil slave-owners, socialists, or you-name-it. We were always on the right side of history and history can be understood as an epic struggle between we good people and our evil enemies.
Furthermore, even as adults, we tend to look back on events of the past with our own understanding of what followed or the way things are now and assume that we are in a position to understand. (How many times in a given month do we hear two groups invoking the Founding Fathers, for example, drawing wildly different conclusions about what that means? Or, hear that appeasement is a terrible idea and as Chamberlain demonstrated with the Nazis, only gives the enemy time to amass strength for an inevitable conflagration?)
We don't necessarily bring any new knowledge when we draw these conclusions, but when they seem to match our beliefs about the world, we assume they must be accurate. Those mistaken conclusions (and assumptions) become difficult to let go of, even when we are presented with new opinions of working historians who find new, compelling information that contradicts us. This lecture series is for adults who are ready to let go of the storybook history in exchange for a more complex, nuanced understanding of history.
I loved this lecture series. I looked forward to the next time I could sit down and listen to one of them. Each one was full of the context I needed to understand why what I had always believed about American history may not actually be what historians, with the fullness of time, have come to believe about it. I also found the Professor's presentation enthusiastic and easy to follow. Excellent lecture series all around.
More of a decent overview of American History. A bit of skeptic stuff thrown in but not much. I expected thorough debunking of commonly held beliefs.
Another Great Courses listen. They are great.
Not much. There were words he used ad nauseum and pronounced incorrectly. It was ridiculously distracting.
Sure. There are plenty of good things in there. I just didn't think it lived up to the title of "Skeptics". Again, was looking for George Washington/cherry tree myth debunking type things.
This lecture series was great to listen to while driving to work. It was interesting and the perfect length for my car rides. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone curious about US history.
Listening to books is the best. I love almost all genres, but romance is my favorite, and rom-com is my preference there.
This is an academic class, and one should approach it as such. Mark A. Stoler, while not exciting as a lecturer, was better than my college professors, and made me really interested.
There really wasn't that much in his lectures that I didn't already know, but he did clarify things in many instances. And he made clear that, while history doesn't repeat itself, attitudes often are.
My boyfriend and I listened to this, one chapter each evening, at dinner, and we paused it often to discuss the material being presented. It beat the heck out of watching TV while we ate, and it actually made the time much more enjoyable than usual, as well as more sociable.
I probably wouldn't recommend this as a straight-through listen, but approach it as you would with any history class. The lectures themselves are only about half an hour each, so it is actually easier to take than the usual hour-long lecture one deals with at a college level. And there aren't constant umms and ahhs to irritate.
I sometimes need a cure for insomnia, so I might try another book for that purpose.
I might try if by a different author
The material was pedestrian. The supposed myths about American history are not myths held by anyone who has ever picked up a history book on their own volition. They might be held by someone with no interest in history. In that case they are unlikely to buy this book.
It was disappointing and painful to listen to this slow and belabored recitation of elementary history. It was like like dying of thirst trying to drink from a faucet that drips out one drop of water a minute.
It could be helpful to rate history or other non-fiction as "Beginner", "Intermediate", "Advanced".
Less building of straw-men in order to tear them down to make his "point."
I'm not sure, but I will think twice before returning to The Great Courses series.
No, but I would like to take his course, if only to have the chance to argue his basic premises with him.
This question is not really applicable to a lecture series.
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.
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.
More in depth information
Did the best he could with the material
Great Promise. Poor Execution
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