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Professor O'Donnell's first series Turning Points in American History ranks among the best of the many The Great Courses series I have listened to, so I couldn't wait to tackle this new series by Professor O'Donnell which takes a deeper dive into the period from the mid 19th to the early 20th century.
I was tempted to get the video version because this time period is so rich with historical photographs, documents and political cartoons. However I had an Audible credit and and I knew from his previous course that Professor O'Donnell would be very highly organized and easy to listen to. I have no regrets.
In the end I have to rate this series just a notch below "Turning Points." That series was absolutely loaded with new insights and "aha" moments, whereas this one felt more like an entertaining race through time ( then again, it could be that I feel that way only because I recently listened to the outstanding Great Courses series on the Industrial Revolution and it covered much of the same time period).
Bottom line: I recommend it highly. If you are really looking to seriously study this era, then I might first get a global perspective from Professor Bucholz's Foundations of Western Civilization II," then move to this series, and then to Professor Allitt's The Industrial Revolution.
If you are looking for a broader view of major milestones in American history, then listen to Professor O'Donnell's "Turning Points" followed by Professor Stoler's Skeptics Guide to American History.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Usually when you take an American History course the Gilded Age is not well covered. I only remember a little bit of this era from the history courses I took. So I came in with a small understanding of the era. After this course I found it to be the most fascinating era in US history. So many things happened during this time that still effect us. This is not only in regards to law but also culture.
Professor O'Donnell has a great voice and I found myself feeling a comfortable familiarity with him. He tells some great stories along the way too so you feel like the people in this era are truly people and not just listed names.
Sometimes you get a treat with some background music from the era. I loved that as it made the lecture feel really alive.
I think that this is an important course to get as it has a lot of correlation to our times. Many of the problems of this era are still going on today. Some examples are the rise of nativism, the huge rich versus poor divide and campaign finance. I would personally suggest this as a course for all of those reasons.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Since Audible doesnt provide us with chapter headings, here is the full list :
1. 1865: “Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds”
2. The Reconstruction Revolution
3. Buffalo Bill Cody and the Myth of the West
4. Smokestack Nation: The Industrial Titans
5. Andrew Carnegie: The Self-Made Ideal
6. Big Business: Democracy for Sale?
7. The New Immigrants: A New America
8. Big Cities: The Underbelly Revealed
9. Popular Culture: Jazz, Modern Art, Movies
10. New Technology: Cars, Electricity, Records
11. The 1892 Homestead Strike
12. Morals and Manners: Middle-Class Society
13. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Gala Ball
14. Populist Revolt: The Grangers and Coxey
15. Rough Riders and the Imperial Dream
16. No More Corsets: The New Woman
17. Trust-Busting in the Progressive Era
18. The 1911 Triangle Fire and Reform
19. Theodore Roosevelt, Conservationist
20. Urban Reform: How the Other Half Lives
21. The 17th Amendment: Democracy Restored
22. Early Civil Rights: Washington or Du Bois?
23. Over There: A World Safe for Democracy
24. Upheaval and the End of an Era
This course gives an overview of the period in US history running from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the 1920s.
As such it covers a lot of information dealing with the increased industrialisation and urbanisation of the US and the politics surrounding it. However because it is an overview it tends to present simplified versions of events and doesn't always make the links between varying ideas.
It is a very good beginning to understanding modern USA and is worth listening as it gives you the necessary groundwork to dig deeper into the issues.