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Editor reviews

The History of the United States, 2nd Edition, is by The Great Courses and is a historical audiobook part of their Modern History series. This book has been narrated by three award-winning leaders in U.S Studies – Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Professor Gary W. Gallagher and Professor Patrick N. Allitt. This all-encompassing study of The United States of America starts at its roots with European settlement to the tremendously powerful nation it is today. This is an essential listen for those attempting to understand its history, culture, people and role in world politics and economies. Available now from Audible.

Summary

This comprehensive series of 84 lectures features three award-winning historians sharing their insights into this nation's past - from the European settlement and the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, 19th-century industrialization, two world wars, and the present day.

While American history spans not much more than two centuries, it is filled with a wealth of leaders, wars, movements, inventions, and ideas - each of which contributed in its own unique way to America's transformation from 13 disparate colonies on the east coast of North America into a global superpower.

These lectures give you the opportunity to grasp the different aspects of our past that combine to make us distinctly American, and to gain the knowledge so essential to recognizing not only what makes this country such a noteworthy part of world history, but the varying degrees to which it has lived up to its ideals.

The lectures chart the five predominant themes that run throughout the chronicle of U.S. history:

  • The American passion for freedom-including religious, political, and economic freedom.
  • The pursuit of education, which has been the quintessential way for Americans to invent (and reinvent) themselves.
  • The unquestioned faith in the value of popular government.
  • The willingness of Americans to experiment with and adapt to new environments and situations.
  • The belief that the United States is a "city on the hill," a country the likes of which the world has never seen before.

Placing familiar historical events in the context of these overarching themes will help you see American history less as a series of separate events and more as a mosaic in which everything is interconnected.

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

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The History of the United States, 2nd Edition

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Excellent overview

What made the experience of listening to The History of the United States, 2nd Edition the most enjoyable?

It was a riveting overview of American History, with a good balance of political, social, and economic topics. It was so good that I've been listening to it at almost any spare moment when I've been walking, commuting, or cooking.

The lecturers were engaging teachers and the depth was just right for an introductory audio course - not too academic but also not dumbed down. I feel that I have a much better grasp of the broad sweep of American history and can now go on to learn in more depth about particular topics.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of the United States, 2nd Edition?

I particularly enjoyed the discussion of economic and social topics in the late 19th century as the US expanded westwards and became more industrialised. There were some wonderful lectures on the challenges of western expansion, the consequences of industrialisation, and the attitudes to gender of the time.

Any additional comments?

I wish the third lecturer had explained why the Democratic and Republican parties seem to have switched ideological places in the mid-twentieth century.

Also, audible should provide the option of buying the PDF guide that comes with Great Courses courses - it would be helpful for reviewing what I've learned.

8 people found this helpful

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Detailed and engaging.

There are three narrators who each bring their own style. The first is worth the price of the book alone. He covers pre civil war America, in a concise and clear way.

The second part about the civil war is less clear because the lecturer goes into far more detail.

I don't really like the 3rd part which is the longest. The narration is weakest here, the lecturer keeps jumping back and forward in time, and often goes off in little side notes. I think if he restrained himself more it would have been better.

6 people found this helpful

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Good introduction, slightly uneven

This is a very long lecture series as their subject matter requires. The speakers are good and the lecture series covers history pretty well.

The only issue that I had was that not all history was covered evenly. Especially the modern part was slightly rushed. Also, the side of natives could have been covered a bit more. But it is understandable why they didn't have time, series is already 43+ hours.

Overall, definitely recommend this to anyone interested in US history who wants to get started.

4 people found this helpful

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Myth vs truth

Provides a story of the myth of America, but not an accurate history of the developing nation. The performance is slightly irritating; the intonation and emphasis in particular.

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Excellent

The lectures are phenomenal. I'm so pleased I listened and only wish my own teachers had been so engaging. An outstanding collection.

1 person found this helpful

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Informative, but bland.

I learned a great deal from this course but I would liked to have heard more opinions from the teachers.

1 person found this helpful

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This was a horrible and rubbish no thankyou.

I didn't enjoy this at all it was totally rubbishly horrid. I didn't like

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Excellent

Well spaced and easily understood. Overall excellent.Highly recommended for all ages of listeners and students.

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A great overview

For a British person who has never studied American History, this was a perfect introductory summary to give me the key points. There are area that I would like more detail e g the civil rights movement, but these are for me to go on and look up independently. the only thing I disliked was the music at the start of every lecture!!

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Spell binding

Engaging and illuminating. Ommission is gun culture. b3 now for bringing up to current time?

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  • RockyToTheMoon
  • 24-06-19

Hard to be fair with three different providers.

My biggest (but most alarming) complaint about this presentation is the lack of hard data and history notes to back up why I felt boarded on personal option. While I understand history “changes”; there was no empirical evidence to support many claims. For example, I’ve long learned that The Puritans settled in America to escape religious persecution from back home. Here, the arguement Is presented that they had come to America for financial independence. Other claims that fly in the face of what I was taught (many years ago) could be correct, but without reference to cases, finds or diaries, it is simply the lecture’s belief. A few examples are; Slaves were more predominant in the South due to public views, not farming or cotton production. The push westward was due to strife and discord against he Native Americans, not just simple expansion. Our founding fathers were driven to act more out of fear than hope. - I’m not saying this is incorrect data, just without documents or references to back up it up, it’s hard to take in.

109 people found this helpful

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  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 01-10-16

Had its Ups and Downs

What did you like best about The History of the United States, 2nd Edition? What did you like least?

It is hard to review this course in whole since the three professors’ styles are so different but while I was hoping for more (the treatment of some events felt lacking) the course certainly covers other areas very well.

Lecture Breakdown:
Professor Guelzo (Lectures 1-36) - Colonization to mid 19th century
Professor Gallagher (Lectures 37-48) - American Civil War era
Professor Allitt (Lectures 49-84) - Late 19th century into the 21st century

Professor Guelzo
Ups:
- It felt like almost no detail of American history was left out in his comprehensive and expansive survey; Surprisingly it did not start with England’s colonial expeditions but the expeditions of Europe, in general, of North and South America

- The Professor was passionate about the content, had a fondness for the characters, and could tell a good story/successfully leave you at a dramatic cliffhanger

- Lecture 9 on the French and Indian War

Downs:
- While Professor Guelzo is a great story-teller and cliff-hanger master, at times his penchant for dramatizing just about everything and using longer than usual sentences made it difficult at times to follow certain points without rewinding; There were times I’d rather the professor had stated straight facts about an event or results of an event vs overdramatizing since it seemed like certain facts were either missing or got lost in the “story”


Professor Gallagher
Ups:
- He is one of my favorite lecturers in the Great Courses stable (along with Professor Vandiver) and delivered an excellent detailed narrative of the origins of the Civil War, the military history of the war, and study into non-military events such as the emancipation, life on the home front, the diplomatic front, etc.

- Lecture 46 on Reconstruction after Civil War

- He provided a great detailed narrative that is pretty straight forward making it easy to understand

Downs:
- The professor had a habit of modulating his voice between speaking really low to really loud; He’d start a sentence too loud and end it too low; This made it very difficult at times to select a volume that would prevent me from having difficulty hearing him without being annoyed by the loud bursts


Professor Allitt
Ups:
- Professor Allitt did a good job of articulating the evolution and transformation of society from an isolationist, primarily agricultural country to the highly industrialized world power the US had become

- Lectures 62-63 on World War I

- Lecture 84 Reflections and main themes (this course had one of the best concluding lectures I've listened to)

Downs:
- For the most part I couldn’t get into his lectures: I was hoping he’d provide more background or facts around certain historical events (vs. in some cases treating events in passing like the Spanish-American War)

- He concluded his lectures in a somewhat abrupt manner: there wasn’t much summation of the key points of the lecture or a preview of what the next lecture had in store so there were times when the professor would make a point and suddenly there’d be applause to mark the end of the lecture without any warning that it was winding down!

Overall: I found "Turning Points in American History" a much better course on U.S. history but I also can't say this was a bad course. Was it worth my time? I'm still sort of undecided. There certainly was good but when it is dispersed among 42 hours and there is also alot of other time when I felt myself zoning out, I'm not too sure of my final feelings on this course.

296 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 12-10-19

Narrator of Part 3 Take with a Grain of Salt

Professors of parts 1 & 2 are amazing; professor 3 is a bit sexist and apologist for racism. For 2 examples, he tries to make it sound like segregation laws worked both ways, and he laughs that women in the 1960s were the only group that needed "consciousness ridings" to learn they were oppressed. No, they knew Prof. They just never had a place to talk about it.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Christina
  • 09-09-14

Wow!

This is my third Great Courses lecture series, and it was as amazing as the other two. I especially enjoyed Professor Guelzo's enthusiasm, which was contagious, but I give high marks to all three. They did a great job of breaking the series at logical points, which makes it possible to break off listening for a bit while you go read or listen to something less weighty, then come back and pick it up, no problem. I really feel, after listening to this series, that I have a more well-rounded grasp on American history, more than just the cold dates and facts. The various eras and the individuals who left their marks really came alive for me. I'm so glad that Audible and The Great Courses have teamed up! And now off to find another new favorite.

60 people found this helpful

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  • SAMA
  • 03-12-13

Everything You Need to Know about US History

I have always heard of the formation of the United States, slavery, the Constitution, the Civil War, the reformation, the Industrial Revolution and the two World Wars from the perspective of the United States. This book takes all of those, plus everything in between, and sets it up in an easy to understand framework. If you are a history buff, this is a piece of history you cannot afford to overlook, no matter how much you think you know (or care) about it.

50 people found this helpful

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  • A Texan 2
  • 09-04-15

A journey worth taking

Probably one of the best credits I've spent on Audible. 42 hours - 84 lectures covering a pretty thorough survey of the history of the U.S.

Much of it I remembered from school, much I had forgotten, and still more I had never heard before. It was particularly interesting towards the end, hearing historical lectures about the recent decades that I have lived through.

Overall, I found it to be a pretty even handed telling. This is our story - the good and the bad. Going through it all with a more sober and adult level of comprehension offered me some new insights into how our nation and society have come to be where they are now.

The one minor ding is that I believe this was recorded back in 2006, so the presenters do not have the benefit of being able to incorporate or compare with some of the most recent major events in our history. Still, the journey was well worth taking.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 22-07-15

Wonderful overview, provides many viewpoints

This is a great primer of US History-- as grotesque as that sounds, given the 43-hour running time.

But the lecturers do a very good job of explaining how complex certain episodes really are. While leaving you with a basic understanding of historical events, you also are fully aware of just how little you really know.

I was particularly impressed with how each lecturer addresses several historical viewpoints. This is no way felt like a textbook version of events. Rather, they explain dissenting and extreme viewpoints and don't give any particular weight to anything besides the indubitable facts.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bryan C.
  • 07-03-15

Tremendous course

This is an incredible course. I learned so much that I never knew or understood. I think every American should read or listen to a course like this.

I do wonder, though, how biased the course is toward our own country. For example, in the end, they seem to let the American pioneers off lightly by saying it was mainly disease that wiped out the Indians. I previously had the impression that maltreatment of the Indians held greater blame.

I guess I will have to research and find out.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Tim R. Prussic
  • 25-06-15

A Wonderful Course on American History

Any additional comments?

Based on past experiences with the Teaching Company / Great Courses, I have come to expect quite a bit from their courses. With expectations high, I say this course through American history is a winner.

Let's face it: A course of 84 half-hour lectures is long and arduous. Even so, it is not much space and time in which to tell the wildly diverse story of the United States. This course, like most history courses of this scope, is an overview. Overviews, by nature, tend to be cursory and selective. Moreover, while I certainly would not call myself well-read in American history, I have read and taught through various courses/texts on United States history. Thus, even with the overview-type nature of the course and my familiarity with the material, there were *plenty* of insightful, detailed, and connective moments of teaching that were enlightening to me.

The lectures (both in content and selection of materials) betray a moralism that leans toward contemporary Western, liberal, enlightenment-rooted values. This is most evident in the selection and ordering of materials in the later lectures. As an example, here are some lecture titles: "76 - The Vietnam War; 77 - The Women's Movement; 78 - Nixon and Watergate; 79 - Environmentalism." Ordering American history in this way reflects the fragmentation of the history department into myopic partisan attempts at generating their own meta-narratives. This fragmentation seems quite prevalent in the institutions of higher education, certainly at my University. Even so, the professors (all of them) avoid being narrow and partisan (which is one of my expectations of Great Courses). The lectures specifically mentioned above were themselves quite helpful in developing my personal understanding of those particular issues not only by summarizing all the recent partisan historical scholarship (a very helpful thing of itself), but also by connecting the many particular groups and viewpoints with the broader American story. That is, these professors are gifted storytellers. They did a good job of telling all of these partisan stories within the bigger story of American history.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Sumner
  • 24-01-14

Great highlights to US History for beginners

What made the experience of listening to The History of the United States, 2nd Edition the most enjoyable?

You can tell that the narrators are knowledgeable about their topics and seem to be unscripted.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

you can tell when they were really digging into details of a particular event.

Any additional comments?

Definitely a great program to obtain if you are wanting a good intro into US History thats not boring or excessive. The 30 minute lectures are great for commuting to work.

18 people found this helpful