Turning Points in American History : The Great Courses: Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Edward T. O'Donnell
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern History
  • 24 hrs and 26 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

These 48 lectures are your chance to relive the most groundbreaking moments in the fascinating story of the United States. They offer you a different perspective on the sweeping narrative of U.S. history. Spanning the arrival of the first English colonists to the chaos of the Civil War to the birth of the computer age and beyond, this lecture series is a captivating and comprehensive tour of those particular moments in the story of America, after which the nation would never be the same again.
Taking a chronological approach, Professor O'Donnell gives you new ways to understand American history and to appreciate it as a grand narrative pinpointed with key moments that changed things forever. Each lecture focuses on a single turning point, explaining the conditions that led up to it, immersing you in the experience of the event itself, and exploring its immediate and long-term ramifications.
Among the great turning points you'll investigate in depth are the trial of John Peter Zenger (1735), which popularized the ideas that freedom of the press is essential to liberty; the battle of Antietam (1862), which eliminated the possibility of England and France intervening on behalf of the Confederacy; and the Watergate scandal (1974), which signaled a heightened level of public distrust toward elected officials. Along the way, Professor O'Donnell often dispels some intriguing myths and half-truths about American history and provides an honest, unabashed look at the subject matter. These lectures are packed with unfamiliar anecdotes, stories, and side notes that just may change your views on the grand narrative of American history.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Brilliant, Informative, Entertaining!

Where does Turning Points in American History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have listened to over 60 titles from the Great Courses series. They are almost universally wonderful, but of course a few professors rise to the top as my favorites. Professor O'Donnell has jumped to the top of that list. He is both incredibly organized and incredibly entertaining. Each of the lectures starts with a story, sets out objectives, and makes a strong and logical case for it's topic as a true turning point in history. Some of the turning points (such as the Boston Tea Party) would classify as "the usual suspects" (though not necessary for the reasons you expect), and others (such the eradication of hookworm in the South) are delightful surprises. O'Donnell's pace is consistently perfect.

You will be entertained. You will be informed. You will be a better citizen. 5 Stars for sure.


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- Quaker

Fantastic way to experience American History

I have listened to almost 100 of The Great Courses over the last 10 years or so and this one ranks within the Top 5! Professor O'Donnell clearly knows his subject matter plus he is a superb presenter. The lectures are clear, well organized, and fast paced. There are 48 lectures, which certainly seems like a lot, but each one goes by very quickly. I really liked the mixture of very well-known and little known episodes in American history. It also has a nice mix of political, military, economic, and social historical episodes so it always seems fresh.

Ideally one would have a basic grasp of American history overall before starting this series, but frankly it isn't absolutely necessary. Enjoy!
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- John M

Book Details

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