The Skeptic's Guide to American History : The Great Courses: Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Mark A. Stoler
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern History
  • 12 hrs and 1 mins
  • Lecture

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Skeptical but Not Cynical

I was a little apprehensive about taking this course because of the title. I read many history books, and I get really tired of revisionist history and cynical professors with an axe to grind against America. Given the title, I feared running into exactly this scenario. I was happily relieved to find that not to be the case with this course. The professor's goal is to shed light on American history myths and misunderstandings, but he does so in a respectful way that does not belittle America or ignore the nation's accomplishments. For example, he points out that George Washington lost nearly every battle he fought in the American Revolution, and, thus, Washington was not an unmatched tactical general. The professor points out, though, that Washington was a strategic master who won the war without winning all of the battles by making the British situation in America unsustainable and winning enough key battles to be successful. As another example, he discusses the myth that President Franklin Roosevelt "gave away" Eastern Europe to the Soviets at the end of World War II. The professor explains that the Soviets had already conquered Eastern Europe, and, instead of surrendering territory, Roosevelt negotiated territorial concessions from the Soviets, not vice-versa. The class was fascinating and thought provoking and, thankfully, not cynical or demeaning to America.
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- Ark1836

This is how history should be taught

This is how history should be taught -- not with presumption of knowledge, but with more questions and the attempt to answer such questions with all available data currently known, while still acknowledging that much still needs to be learned. Also a relief to not hear how "good/bad" events or figures were in general, as if such subjectivity can be written as fact. Rather different perspectives were approached, and what was "good/bad" for whom, from which perspective, and in consideration of which goals/intentions.
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- Becca

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses