Three survey courses in US history

Update on March 12, 2009: The scene has changed since I posted this entry in August 2008.  There are now two excellent US history courses on the web.  I recommend Yale’s The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877 (website).  (See post: Attention American civil war history buffs) and Stanford’s Colonial and Revolutionary America (iTunes) (See post: Standford posts new US history course).

Here are three survey courses of US history available by podcast.  All are serviceable rather than great.  But if you feel you need a course to get you up to speed on US history, any one of these classes will do the job.

Gretchen Reilly of Temple College in Temple Texas narrates the high points and main themes of American history in a pair of podcasts, American History before 1870 (iTunes) and US History since 1877 (iTunes).  This presentation sounds more like an audio book than a series of lectures because there is no interaction with students on the soundtrack.

David Noon of the University of Alaska Southeast has posted podcasts of two US history courses: United States History to 1865 ( website) and United States History, 1865-Present (iTunes, website).  Noon converses with students, asking for their ideas and comments as he covers the main events in American history.   The pace is a bit slow for my taste and the teacher repeats himself too much for this to be a four or five-star offering. (Thanks to reader HG who alerted me about this course.)

Jennifer Burns of UC Berkeley covers American History from the Civil War (iTunes, website).  I listened to this entire course, and while I enjoyed it, I noticed a number of factual errors, which left me wondering what else she got wrong.   The course was especially strong in its coverage of Barry Goldwater and the rise of conservatism.  According to her website, this period is Professor Burns’ area of specialization.

Update on Jan 13, 2009: Missouri State University offers History of U.S. Since 1877 (iTunes),  taught by Dominic Capeci, Jr.  I only listened to a short segment of this course because I found that Capeci’s slow, plodding way of speaking  couldn’t hold my attention.  But you might want to give it a try.  Maybe your opinion will be different.

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