The Untold History of the United States

  • by Oliver Stone, Peter Kuznick
  • Narrated by Peter Berkrot
  • 30 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!"
—Woodrow Wilson
The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arabella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire. They trace the American empire through the bloody U.S. suppression of the Filipino struggle for independence; the establishment of U.S. financial hegemony via World War I; the repeated U.S. interventions, covert operations, and wars in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East; the transformation of America into a prying national security state; the accumulation of vast fortunes by the wealthiest Americans; and troubling assaults on U.S. constitutional liberties.
Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented "people's history" of the American empire that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path.
Stone and Kuznick will introduce listeners to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track. The authors reveal that:

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible.
The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.
The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty.
U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the United States and its allies.
U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the Constitution and international law.
The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war.
American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the 21st century. Their conclusions will astonish even experts, but there is one question only listeners can answer: Is it too late for America to change?


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

US History as it should be taught in school.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! It's a well sourced and documented account of the dark side of America's history that everyone should know about.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Henry Wallace because in a time of rampant militarism and increasing worldwide violence, he still stood strong for the common man and the hope that the world could achieve peace.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are too many to list, but if I had to pick one, it would be the scene leading up to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The true horror of what our leaders did to an already beaten people is shocking and should serve as a stark reminder of just how cruel politics and the war industry really are.

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

Henry Wallace's speech about taking America into the "Age of the Common Man". His words then are more relevant now than ever. Our country, as well as the world, has been a constant struggle by those few, the ruling class, against the rest of us, the working and middle class and while we far outnumber the rulers, we are still swayed by propaganda and cheap advertising.

Any additional comments?

If you want a more complete understanding of not only current events but of American History overall, this is a definite 'must-read.' For too long we have been raised and educated in a society that only tells us one side of the coin, thus sabotaging our critical thinking skills and leading us to make decisions based on half truths and outright lies. If you care anything about the democratic process you have to be willing to question the official account, you have to look askance at the popular myths and you certainly have to reevaluate your heroes. Despite the best efforts of the ruling elite, militarists, Wall St., etc. to paint the world in a black or white, us vs them, portrait, the world is in fact a vibrant palette of beauty and horror. Good people do bad things, bad people do... uh... bad things and then there are those who I would call fundamentalists. The 'Anti" crowd. They view every kind of move toward progress or peace as evil communist/terrorist plots and they justify sabotaging or outright destroying any such movement. These people are in positions of power and they exercise their will with often lethal intent to force the world to conform to their distorted world view. These people are a greater threat to the world in which we live than any leftist, progressive, anti-war movement and this book exposes them for the villains they are. This should be required reading in High School, when so many kids are being fed lies and heroic myths about the so called 'Greatest Nation' on Earth. We have to potential to be great. We have achieved great things in our short history, but we THE PEOPLE have to educate ourselves and stand up to these corrupters who lust for power and wealth at the expense of reason and sanity.

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- Kevin "ksquared83"

5 star, but what a discouraging history it is.

What did you love best about The Untold History of the United States?

This is a very well researched and written book. There is much more history left untaught -- or distorted -- than we hear in school. Our untold history is fascinating.

What did you like best about this story?

Best are new facts about some excellent and successful efforts by humane and community-minded government officials, individuals and organizations to develop programs beneficial to the well-being of individuals, business and the country.

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

Until today, listening for a few hours straight while driving in the countryside, I completely enjoyed hearing this "new" history. Then I realized I was also hearing about loud and brutal intolerance, violent efforts to crush individual workers and unions, corporate efforts to finance a military coup, wars, depressions and ever-growing economic class separation, ongoing for generations. Many gained obscene amounts of wealth while most struggled, and many died, of the business, banking, military, business and corporate manipulations, The juxtaposition of the few ultra-oober-rich to the many "ordinary" made me angry because it is so familiar. There have been repeated cycles of extremes, sadly no different now than then, quickly or slowly crushing any hopes of all but the wealthiest among us. This crushing of hope has been perpetrated by the same reasoning, the same greed, the same plans and the same disregard, by the same long-lived organizations using and used by the same greedy types of individuals for at least three generations behind us, and destined to continue for the generations born after us.

Any additional comments?

The facts uncovered in the research of this book are extraordinary. They are also quite discouraging. I don't mind if what I learn touches a little righteous anger, and raises my consciousness and willingness to stand up for what I know is right. I hate it when people are deliberately unaware, "I don't want to know," I do want to know, but I don't know if I can continue this book. The obviously recurrent brutal treatment of our citizens -- and the citizens of other countries -- is too disheartening. Usually knowledge is power. This knowledge makes me feel powerless.

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- Della McLeslie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-31-2013
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio