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Publisher's Summary

The history of colonial America is a story of extraordinary scope, with Europeans, Africans, and the native peoples of North America interacting in a drama of settlement and conflict that lasted nearly three centuries. Go back in time and relive this epic story in 36 spellbinding lectures.
While concentrating on British North America, Professor Allison also covers developments in the colonial outposts of Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the all-important British possessions in the West Indies, which were the source of the most lucrative crop in the New World - sugar - and the reason for the enormous growth in the slave trade.
As you'll discover, the colonies were often turbulent, dangerous places. You'll learn about Indian wars, slave revolts, witch persecutions, rampant piracy, and other upheavals, as well as the gradual cementing of social order and the development of customs that made the colonies distinct - and difficult for the British government to rule.
These lectures build toward a discussion of the roots of the rebellion that succeeded in toppling the colonial system - the American Revolution - covering its long gestation and closing with an examination of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence.
In fundamental ways, the world we know today emerged from the tempestuous and eventful history of colonial America. Deepen your appreciation for this formative era with these historically rich, captivating, and highly informative lectures.

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

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 02-25-15

Subject Matter is wonderful, Narrator no so much

Would you consider the audio edition of Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies to be better than the print version?


What other book might you compare Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies to and why?

This is a lecture series, but the first 1/4 of The History of the United States, 2nd Edition from The Great Courses might be considered to be comparable.

What three words best describe Professor Robert J. Allison’s voice?

So very slow.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There were no big gotcha moments. However, I did learn quite a lot that I did not know before. This was especially true in the sections on the non-British efforts to colonize various sections of America.

Any additional comments?

Professor Allison's narration was nearly unlistenable on x1.0 speed. There is no nice way to put it, his delivery was slow and ponderous. Under normal circumstances would not recommend listening to this particular series while driving. The good news is, the playback speed can be adjusted. Sped up to x1.5 speed, the lecture series was enjoyable and scarily normal sounding. This made me wonder of the issue lies not with Allison, but with the postproduction process. Either way, once the speed was adjusted I found the lectures extremely interesting, bordering on riveting. I feel I must inform readers that I am a huge nerd when it comes to American history and my bias may be showing with the riveting comment, but nevertheless, I standby it. The lecture summaries and transitions were smooth, and they did not detract from the body of each lecture. I would wholeheartedly recommend the series, just don't forget to speed that player up.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ark1836 on 08-19-15

Outstanding Survey of Pre-1776 America

This is an outstanding course covering the colonial period in America. If the course has a weakness, it is that it only briefly discusses the colonial period of areas other than the original thirteen states with the exception of one lecture dedicated to Spanish settlement in New Mexico. That being said, this course was exactly what I hoped and expected it would be—a discussion about the origins and development of the original thirteen states and the lead-up to the American Revolution. The course did a particularly good job describing the causes and events surrounding the famous Salem Witch Trials. The course stops on the verge of the Revolution and only touches on a few of the events that are directly part of the Revolution. It left me wanting to take the course on the American Revolution next to pick-up the story where this course stopped.

The professor is clearly very knowledgeable and well-prepared. The professor is obviously interested in the material and does a good job conveying the history in a concise and informative manner. This is what a Great Courses class should be.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jason on 12-13-16

good history, but beware if you're british

Good factual and interesting history, I would suggest it for everyone. However if you're like myself (british) there is a few instances in which you may get a little ticked off.

he constantly refers to the british settlers in North America as 'the English'...even when referencing history after the act of union and when there are a good amount of Scottish and welsh migrants to north America.

His American bias shows here and there, ofcourse it ended with the obligatory 'benjamin Franklin was the greatest' and the obvious god bless americaisms...but there are many instances that he references how ignorant all the english settlers were, and then when he goes on to talk about someone interesting or someone who did something impressive, they conveniently become virginian, or Bostonian or a colonist or even a few times he calls them 'american'. He speaks with much more enthusiasm about any of the individuals who were involved with independence than he does with everyone else before that or who weren't involved in that event.

apart from these things, it was a great series of lectures and all the history was interesting and entertaining.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lord Peridot on 01-10-17

Excellent lectures, well delivered

Prof. Allison delivers an excellent set of lectures here, adding so much perspective and light to the history of USA which so often is only reported back to the declaration of independence. Obviously theres a reason for that. But to really understand USA you need to look back to the establishment of the colonies and the life they led before independence. These lectures fill that gap admirably. The Professor has a distinct speaking style. He speaks with a pleasant voice in a slow, melodious, continuous manner embroidered with a sort of sing song emphasis on words and phrases. To my ear its pleasant and makes it easier to take in the narrative.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Miss Amy V on 12-07-17

Great course, fantastic lecturer

Being an Australian, I had limited knowledge of American history. This course really opened my eyes to how complex American society was back in colonial times. The lecturer is great, and stays mutual throughout, whilst telling the stories of Native Americans, slaves and the European settlers. I recommend this audiobook to any history buffs.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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