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Publisher's Summary

American history is often presented as a tale of dynamic movers and shakers who subdued an untamed wilderness on the way to forging a great nation - all the while leaving philosophy for their European counterparts.

But this history neglects the philosophical underpinnings of America. As these 36 lectures demonstrate, America has borne the imprint of influential thinkers from its earliest days, from the Reformation theology of John Calvin to the Enlightenment philosophy of John Locke.

Throughout this epic historical journey, you'll explore the many ways this nation has answered the question: What is an American? Professor Kobylka traces the many answers that have been offered showing how the idea of "We the People" has changed and expanded far beyond the Founding Fathers' original conception.

You'll navigate America's ever-shifting political landscape and see how the great political trends in American history can be understood as variations on a single theme: the philosophy of liberalism, this conception that government is the source of some of our most deeply valued political notions. You'll also meet the great men and women who, over the course of American history, have molded political thought and policy.

This is your opportunity to gain a deep understanding both of the nation's past and how this rich political history continues to influence the current day. Even if you've studied American history before, you'll encounter something new: a unique synthesis of viewpoints, ideas, and events that's enlightening and compelling.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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Thorough Review and Summary

What made the experience of listening to Cycles of American Political Thought the most enjoyable?

Prof. Kobylka presents the information in these lectures clearly, and without any apparent editorial bias. On the few occasions he editorializes, he makes it quite clear that is what he is doing. On the whole, he presents a remarkably balanced view of political thought in the US.

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

No, but it's 18+ hours long and not designed to be listened to in such a manner.

Any additional comments?

The principal thread of American political thought is Liberalism. This doesn't mean that it adheres to the current, popular use of the word "liberal" - you have to be able to hear that word with choking on your own rage.<br/><br/>It can sometimes be difficult to discern when he is quoting, paraphrasing, or simply commenting. This is due to him not using the (annoying) convention of announcing "quote-unquote" when he transitions to and from quotations.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr. Liz
  • Colts Neck, NJ USA
  • 08-18-16

Challenging topic, middling delivery

Is there anything you would change about this book?

An interesting overview of American history, seen through the lens a political philosophy.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

It was interesting to learn about the push and pull of political philosophy in America, with the alternation between the active versus the limited state, the primacy of liberty versus equality. The professor's delivery was less appealing to me. Sometimes he rushed and slurred his words, making him difficult to follow. At other times his delivery was annoyingly halting.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Joseph F. Kobylka’s performances?

Probably not.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Not applicable.

Any additional comments?

I find the comments about Dr. Kobylka's "liberalism" pretty far off the mark. I think in general is pretty neutral. He expresses abhorrence toward slavery and racism but hopefully that is no longer controversial. He discusses socialism in a nonjudgmental fashion, but he does the same with Reaganism. Pretty balanced, on the whole.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding; puts 2016 in historical perspective

Where does Cycles of American Political Thought rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best historical/political audiobooks I've ever listened to. Should be mandatory "reading" for political candidates before they debate and for voters before they listen to often misinformed or misleading politicians.

What did you like best about this story?

Professor Kobyika traces the foundations and evolution of competing streams of American political thinking from the Pilgrims to Reagan. It is amazing how complex and varying these streams have been - and how they are so unlike the naive utterances of today's politicians who often refer to "American Values" as if they were monolithic. This Course is a valuable overview of how America struggled to define itself at the beginning and how that struggle has continued to modern times.

Have you listened to any of Professor Joseph F. Kobylka’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

My first exposure to Prof. Kobyika.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were too many to single out just one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating Look at Surprising Historical Threads

Equality and liberty, property rights and personal rights, tradition and abstraction, community and conscience—it is illuminating to see connections between disparate thinkers across decades and centuries. It was also fun to encounter some new and non-mainstream thinkers. All very engagingly conveyed by Professor Kobylka.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great Overview of American Political History

Dr. Kobylka is an excellent lecturer, and he gives a great overview of the evolution of American political thought.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a truly great Great Course

This course did a wonderful job of explaining both sides of the "great conversation" that defines who we area as a nation. it really helped me understand positions other than my own. Informative and helpful.

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  • jmaloney
  • jupiter, florida United States
  • 12-02-14

Waste of time

Has Cycles of American Political Thought turned you off from other books in this genre?

I usually like the Great Courses series, but this one is horrible. He is too biased a leftist to be taken seriously, other courses were far more objective and more informative. I expected the same, I can get partisan dribble for free.

What didn’t you like about Professor Joseph F. Kobylka’s performance?

Clearly biased, and biased political thought is cheap and usually delivered better.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Cycles of American Political Thought?

It goes downhill fast.

Any additional comments?

There are many excellent books in the Great Courses series other than this one, check them out .

6 of 35 people found this review helpful