The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy

Narrated by: Patrick N. Allitt
Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (929 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Our understanding of the American West has moved far beyond pop culture in recent years. The legendary people and events we associate with the Wild West - the last stand at the Alamo, the Battle of Little Bighorn, the exploits of Calamity Jane, the hardships of the Oregon Trail - are even more fascinating once the historical realities have been separated from the myths.

Designed to shine a light on the American frontier, these 24 lectures are a way for you to experience the grit and grandeur of an epic period in American history. Professor Allitt uncovers new historical angles and perspectives about events and themes ranging from the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Indian Removal Act to the creation America's first national parks.

You'll cover more than 200 years of history and the most important events, themes, and ideas that form the backbone of the frontier's reality - and legend. Among these: the Transcontinental Railroad, the idea of Manifest Destiny, the Gold Rush, the Trail of Tears, and (yes) cowboys. You'll also learn how popular culture - novels like Little House on the Prairie, paintings by artists like Frederic Remington, and decades of Western films - can actually clue us in to the intimate details of life for everyday men and women.

Saddle up for an exciting adventure in learning.

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

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Professor, Great Course

Any additional comments?

I bought this course because I had listened to and enjoyed others by Professor Allitt. I'm glad I did, for once again he has delivered an engaging and informative series of lectures. Professor Allitt offers listeners a broad historical perspective on the opening of the American West, clearly explaining the context and significance of each topic he covers. What I liked most, though, were the details, anecdotes and stories he used to evoke the flavour of this period. It's important to learn, for example, how the gold rush contributed to the evolution of California as a state, but hearing the specifics of how the gold was mined, of the dangerous technology and toxins that were used, helped me visualize the harsh lives of the miners.

32 people found this helpful

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The wild wooly west comes to life

these lectures give a new meaning to the Wild West. from Lewis and Clark, Old Kentucky Home, Bloody Kansas, Trail of Tears, Little Big Horn, Mormon pioneers, Gold Rush days, John Wesley Powell. I learned many things I did not know living in the West. I enjoyed these lectures and plan on reading some of the books The Professor suggest. the professor might be an Englishman but he knows his stuff about the West. I live in Utah and many of the things he said are true.

17 people found this helpful

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Fine broad overview - but not much meat

I loved a previous course from the presenter and while I am a fan of the American West and its history...I am by no means an expert. However, I was surprised by how much of this I was already aware of and, for the length of the course, how few "deep dives" this contained. I would recommend this to someone wanting to learn of the West with no previous exposure, but even someone with a high school-level of exposure will find this somewhat lacking beyond superficial coverage, dates and notables. After completion of this, I didn't totally feel like I really walked away with a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the west.

20 people found this helpful

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I expected more

This Great Course was the first I have listened to and I was not blown away. A more apt title might be An ultraabridged history of the american west. I think too much was covered in too short a time. The history wasnt chronological and no character or place stuck with for any period of time, rather a collection of random facts associated with topics like law and order or the early frontier. A much more concise history could have been made of 12 hours. This course would be of benefit to someone with no exposure to western history and are looking to get a lose idea. The production value was a little disappointing where slight missayings or clearing of the narrators throat are obvious.

3 people found this helpful

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bookgirl

This was my first Great Courses listen and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well written and well read. I it won't be my last.

6 people found this helpful

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Expected more about the "Wild West"

I have to say I expected more from this. More about the truth behind life out in the "Wild West", maybe more stories about the OK Corrall or Billy the Kid or something. Instead it's a pretty general survey of American History along the frontier from colonial times to the early-mid 20th century. If you remember anything from US History classes most of the material you will already know. He doesn't delve into anything too deeply. I did learn some things but it wasn't worth the 12 hours I spent listening to it.

4 people found this helpful

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Not what I was expecting

if you're interested in observing the history of the west while looking out the window of a car doing 120mph then this is the book for you. the professor barely even covers the interesting parts and instead spends 2/3rds of the book explaining how white people are the devil.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent, yet not fantastic

This is an excellent choice for a light course that will educate you during your free time on American and Western history. The presentation is skillful and the entire course is entertaining and highly profitable. From learned discussions of Western movies to songs to make cows go to sleep.

HOWEVER, it is not a life changing course on the same level as the course on Ancient Egypt or the African Experience which are also available on the great course series. I deeply enjoyed the course and would rec it to anyone with an interest in American history, yet it lacks that special thing that makes a course truly outstanding. Still a four star course and still a good choice for your self education and entertainment.

1 person found this helpful

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Another interesting course by Patrick Allitt

I've always enjoyed the courses by Patrick Allitt, and this one is no exception. He has a way of making a subject interesting by presenting it in a manner which shows how one thing (an idea, attitude, belief, action, etc.) logically leads to the resulting actions and consequences which make up history. Everything logically flows together and makes sense. You realize not just what happened, but also how and why it happened, and it all makes sense - almost as if it couldn't have been otherwise.

As a transplant from Britain, he isn't prejudiced by having grown up with the American concept of American history, yet he understands that concept and can explain & present it from the point of view of a neutral observer. Plus, I like his accent. The one thing I did find somewhat annoying, however, was his mispronunciation of place names, which could easily have been avoided with a bit of research. The most glaring (and oft-repeated) example is his mispronunciation of "Los Angeles" as "Los Angeleeze". That annoyance aside, however, I found this to be a very engaging and interesting course.

3 people found this helpful

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Enlighten ing

very worthwhile and has got me wanting to know
much more about the diverse topics covered.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-27-17

unexpectedly fascinating

it's such an unknown subject to Europeans that it's fascinating to see how the west expanded so quickly. I had to do alot of reading up to find out more on the subject and learnt alot about US geography too. highly recommended

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mariner
  • 04-10-20

A History of the West. Read by ALAN PARTRIDGE????

I'm sorry, it may well be good, or even great, but I lasted barely 5 minutes as it is impossible not to hear Alan Partridge in the narrator's voice. Its going back I'm afraid . . . .

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  • bush
  • 12-12-18

Excellent.

This was awesome but I can’t get over how much the bloke sounds like Alan Partridge.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-28-18

interesting and relatively concise

an enjoyable and balanced look at the western expansion of the United States. it was interesting to see how beaver fur, gold rushes and railways were all key factors in the expansion and development of the west. it also doesn't shy away from some of the negatives such as the treatment of natives. the narration was lovely and engaging and fun to have the history of the American West narrated by an Englishman.

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  • Thomas Swade
  • 04-22-18

Informative albeit rather brief

Very interesting lectures but they really could have been longer. There is so much more that could be said about the West.