America and the World: A Diplomatic History

Course No. 8598
Professor Mark A. Stoler, Ph.D.
The University of Vermont
Share This Course
4.6 out of 5
66 Reviews
93% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 8598
Audio Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

It was a transformation unprecedented in global history. In barely more than two centuries, the United States evolved from a sparsely settled handful of colonies whose very survival was in grave doubt into the most powerful nation the world has ever known-militarily, economically, technologically, culturally, politically, and even ideologically.

How could such an implausible metamorphosis have occurred? In a world where power and the willingness to wield it had always determined the fate of nations, what factors enabled our young nation to successfully navigate the corridors of diplomacy and foreign policy from the outset, ensuring not only survival but also eventual status as a superpower?

America and the World: A Diplomatic History addresses these and other penetrating questions. In 24 insightful lectures, award-winning Professor Mark A. Stoler of the University of Vermont-a scholar acknowledged for his expertise in U.S. diplomatic and military history-offers you a fresh view of America's shift from the periphery of international politics to its very center.

Enhance Your Understanding of the History Taking Place Right Now

Although the specifics naturally change as time advances, the basic elements that make up diplomacy's causal machinery are always in place. Throughout history, diplomacy has resolved international disputes and helped chart new directions for political, economic, and cultural growth.

Studying how American diplomacy works not only strengthens your understanding of why the nation's history turned out the way it did but also adds immeasurably to your interpretation of present-day events. Whether reading a newspaper, listening to a news broadcast, or evaluating the assertions of a political leader or candidate, you will find that the story told in America and the World enhances your perspectives on the history taking place right now.

As he guides you through America's ascendancy, Professor Stoler shows that causal machinery at work as he explores the key components of American diplomatic history:

  • The origins of American beliefs about our "mission" and proper place in the world
  • The expansion of the original United States across the North American continent through war and treaty
  • The acquisition of a formal overseas empire in the late 19th century and the subsequent addition of an informal empire
  • The achievement of victory in two world wars and participation in limited but bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam
  • The course of-and victory in-the 45-year cold war with the Soviet Union
  • The origins and evolution of famous or significant pronouncements and policies, including Washington's Farewell Address, the idea of "Manifest Destiny," the Monroe Doctrine, the Open Door policy, isolationism, the Marshall Plan, and the "containment" of Communism

Of course, policies and actions are decided by the people whose decisions unleash them, and these lectures bring into clear focus the leaders whose judgments shaped America's path

Learn How and Why Diplomatic History Happens

Presenting history's events as only a single part of a much broader whole, Professor Stoler adds the "how" and "why" to the "what" of American diplomatic history. You learn

  • how America's influence has been shaped and expanded by events and ideas;
  • how key personalities-whether America's own national leaders or those of other nations-have influenced American diplomacy and its practice in the international arena;
  • the key beliefs Americans have developed about international relations and their role on the world stage; and
  • how those beliefs have shaped America's actions through both war and peace.

It's an approach that enhances your grasp of not only the substance of events and their multiple causes but also the implications for the next potential sequence of events.

The course offers an excellent perspective on the many lines of causality that converged to create those historical moments and consequences, including the backgrounds and personalities of foreign policy decision makers, national beliefs, geopolitical strategies, and military situations.

Fresh Perspectives—Even on Familiar Names

Even when the names are familiar, the new perspectives and fascinating episodes offered by Professor Stoler deepen your insight into the careers of these diplomats:

  • John Quincy Adams: Considered by many historians to have been America's greatest secretary of state, Adams was responsible for an extraordinary series of major foreign policy successes—including primary authorship of what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the independence of the Western Hemisphere from further European colonization or interference.
  • John Jay: One of the three authors of the Federalist and the nation's first chief justice, Jay was also a major diplomatic figure. The treaty he negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 aroused so much controversy that Jay claimed he could have traveled the entire coastline by night, navigating by the light of the burning effigies of him.
  • James K. Polk: One of the least known of America's presidents, Polk was also one of the most important in the history of the country's expansion—and one of the most controversial.
  • Woodrow Wilson: Although tremendously respected across the political spectrum, Wilson failed to achieve his most important foreign policy goals.

An Engaging, Informative Instructor

Professor Stoler has devoted more than 30 years to the study of U.S. diplomatic and military history. A prolific author of books on American foreign policy and the recipient of numerous teaching awards from the University of Vermont, Professor Stoler imbues these lectures with an enlightening depth and breadth.

Professor Stoler's expertise makes America and the World an engaging look at a unique facet of American history. Weaving together events and personalities, he shows you how and why America gained its current station.

Whether exploring events as diverse as the impressment of American seamen by the British in the early 19th century, the development and execution of the Marshall Plan, or the Cuban Missile Crisis, America and the World presents watershed moments in history through the perspective of foreign policy and diplomacy.

The result is an entertaining course that will not only deepen your outlook on American history but will also prove that not all history is made on the battlefield.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Achieving Independence
    This lecture introduces you to important course themes, including isolationism, mission, expansionism, idealism, and realism. You learn about their origins in American history and their importance in America's rise to superpower status, as well as their apparent contradictions, especially as they emerged during the Revolutionary War. x
  • 2
    Confederation and the Constitution
    The postwar United States—13 sovereign, weak states gathered into a loose confederation—lived a threatened existence. You examine those threats and how they led to the creation of the Constitution, which established a stronger form of government capable of conducting a vigorous foreign policy. x
  • 3
    The Great Debate—Jefferson versus Hamilton
    The French Revolution and resulting European war produced foreign policy crises for George Washington and two fundamentally different policy recommendations. The partisan debate that followed threatened to rip the nation apart and contributed to Washington's Farewell Address. x
  • 4
    From the Farewell Address to the Quasi War
    Washington's Farewell Address is one of the most misunderstood documents in American history. You explore what Washington meant and then move to one of the most important yet overlooked periods in U.S. history: the politically courageous presidency of his successor, John Adams. x
  • 5
    Jefferson and the "Empire of Liberty"
    Thomas Jefferson's ideas regarding territorial expansion and its relationship to liberty became a dominant American force. This lecture focuses on those ideas and Jefferson's attempts to implement them, including the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which more than doubled the size of the United States. x
  • 6
    The "Second War for Independence"
    Attempts by Jefferson and his successor, James Madison, to use peaceful economic coercion to defend American neutrality failed to prevent a second war with England. You learn how the War of 1812 produced numerous gains for the United States. x
  • 7
    John Quincy Adams & American Continentalism
    This lecture considers the continental vision and diplomacy of John Quincy Adams—perhaps America's greatest secretary of state—including his authorship of the Monroe Doctrine, which reserved the entire Western Hemisphere for future U.S. expansion and influence. x
  • 8
    "Manifest Destiny" and War with Mexico
    Adams's diplomacy begins a period of expansion that by 1848 has added Oregon, Texas, California, and New Mexico, the last three by war. Americans justified this as "Manifest Destiny," particularly as practiced by President James K. Polk. x
  • 9
    Causes and Diplomacy of the Civil War
    The territorial acquisitions of the 1840s magnified sectional tensions, thus playing a major role in the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. You gain fresh insight into how that happened before shifting your focus to Union and Confederate diplomacy during the conflict. x
  • 10
    The "New Empire" of Overseas Imperialism
    The post–Civil War years witnessed an industrial explosion that made the United States the world's mightiest economic power. You examine early efforts at overseas expansion and learn how the 1898 war with Spain left the United States with a formal colonial empire. x
  • 11
    Informal Empire—Roosevelt to Wilson
    Whereas President William McKinley established a formal empire, his successors established a related but informal one. You learn how and why, and the roles played by the openly imperialist Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and the supposedly anti-imperialist Woodrow Wilson. x
  • 12
    "The War to End All Wars"
    You explore Woodrow Wilson's efforts to avoid entry into World War I and why they failed, and his plan to remake international relations in a postwar world that would be "safe for democracy," as set forth in his famous 14 Points speech and other addresses. x
  • 13
    The Peace Treaty and Wilson's Heritage
    Why were Wilson's efforts at the Paris Peace Conference largely unsuccessful? You explore the reasons for his many compromises and failures but also learn why he still must be considered one of the most influential figures in America's rise to superpower status. x
  • 14
    Interwar Isolationism and Internationalism
    Recent scholarship has challenged the interpretation of the United States as isolationist in the 1920s and 1930s. Learn why U.S. policies during this period are better described as "independent internationalism" and assess their relative successes and failures in the years between the wars. x
  • 15
    U.S. Entry into World War II
    You learn why the United States moved from neutrality to support of those nations at war with the Axis powers and then to its own declaration of war and explore the massive domestic debate over U.S. policy and the controversy about Pearl Harbor. x
  • 16
    World War II Diplomacy and the FDR Legacy
    You focus on the Allied coalition's conflicting interests; the efforts of Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt to reconcile differences to achieve victory; and an assessment of Roosevelt as a diplomat and war leader. x
  • 17
    Origins of the Cold War
    The United States emerged from the war with enormously expanded military power, but so did the Soviets. You look at the Soviets' shift from ally to adversary; key American policies enunciated during this period, including the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and Containment; and the formation of NATO. x
  • 18
    Cold War Turns Hot—Asia and the Korean War
    Although the cold war remained cold in Europe, a host of armed conflicts seized Asia. You examine American decisions to intervene—most notably in Korea—with enormous consequences for the next two decades of American foreign policy. x
  • 19
    Eisenhower and the Global Cold War
    This lecture attempts a balanced foreign-affairs assessment of Dwight D. Eisenhower's controversial presidency. x
  • 20
    Kennedy and the Ultimate Cold War Crisis
    The United States and the Soviet Union went to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. You explore the origins and unfolding of the crisis and examine some of President John Kennedy's other foreign and defense policies in assessing his overall legacy. x
  • 21
    Vietnam and the War at Home
    Beginning under President Truman, American involvement in Vietnam was transformed and expanded by three subsequent administrations. This lecture examines that expansion and why it failed and attempts to grasp the meaning and impact of this tragic chapter in American history. x
  • 22
    The Nixon-Kissinger "Grand Design"
    Failure in Vietnam forced a recognition of the limits of American power and an attempt to create a balance between desired ends and available means. The result was the most fundamental reorientation of American foreign policy since World x
  • 23
    Ideology Anew and the End of the Cold War
    The years 1976–1988 saw what appeared to be two diametrically opposed foreign policies. In truth, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had much in common in their criticism of the Nixon-Kissinger approach—but vastly different ideas about what should be done. x
  • 24
    The United States and the World Since 1991
    You review the movement of the United States to its position as the most powerful nation the world has ever seen before analyzing why this movement took place, the major ideas Americans developed during the process, and the challenges that lie ahead. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Audio Includes:
  • Download 24 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • Maps
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Mark A. Stoler

About Your Professor

Mark A. Stoler, Ph.D.
The University of Vermont
Dr. Mark Stoler, who holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin, is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont. An expert in U.S. foreign relations and military history, as well as the origins of the cold war, Professor Stoler has also held teaching positions at the United States Military Academy, the Army Military History Institute, the Naval War College, and-as a Fulbright Professor-the...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


America and the World: A Diplomatic History is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 67.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wish I Could Give This Course 6 Stars As soon as I saw that Professor Stoler was teaching this course I knew it would be stellar. His course on The Skeptic's Guide to US History was captivating. He succeeded here as well. This course provides an excellent history of the United States’ diplomatic relations with the various nations of the world from its inception to the 21st century focusing on its rise from a weak country in the 18th century to a world superpower. Professor Stoler focuses not just on the US’ diplomatic history but chronicles its internal growth as well and the major events of its history. This course could’ve served as a US history course as well and is much more preferable to "The History of the United States, 2nd Edition" course (by a mile). Most if not all of the lectures were highly intriguing but the discussion of US relations with France and Great Britain after the American Revolution were enlightening and riveting (lectures 4-7). I thought I had heard all there was to know about the founding fathers but his tale of how John Adams took a courageous stand concerning war with France that cost him politically was new to me. There are more moments like that which make this a must have course. It isn't just content or new knowledge that propels this course. I love the professor's presentation style. He doesn’t mince his words and tells it as it is which is refreshing. His frequent attempts to work in sarcastic humor also work excellently. I had a hard time finding any minuses with this course but maybe the only possible shadow of such would be this: While he is good at providing insight into both the positive and negative historian reaction\critical analysis relating to the legacy of a specific US President, Secretary of State, or strategy, he doesn’t conclude by articulating the opinion that the majority of critics hold so you’re left with both the good and bad reviews, wondering just how has history viewed this person and their accomplishments/failures overall? I would recommend this course not just for its great diplomatic relations history but also the one from TGC catalog that should serve as THE definitive history of the United States course. This is one of those courses you'll find yourself unable to stop listening to lecture after lecture. Please bring back Professor Stoler for another course!
Date published: 2020-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A revelation I've studied U.S. history all my life, but this course presented an aspect that I knew little about. It shed light on some people who made great contributions but who receive less attention than they deserve, like John Quincy Adams and George F. Keenan. It also traces the events that led to the Vietnam war as far back as F.D.R., and it spotlights the missteps that led to the current mess in the Middle East. It also offers a lot of information about one area that I knew almost nothing about, U.S. involvement in Latin America. The course stops with the George W. Bush administration, so there is not a lot about the revival of Russia and China. But the professor is trenchant and insightful and gives a cautionary view of the trend of America's diplomacy which proves to be true today. I highly recommend it for those who like to dig beneath the surface of historical events.
Date published: 2020-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lessons learned still applicable today I took this course 11 years after it was first published. The lessons learned, or at least taught, in this course are incredibly pertinent to the discussion of American foreign policy in 2019. During my 33 years with the U.S. Air Force and graduate study in international relations I think I have learned a few things: 1) There are lessons learned and lessons never learned ! 2) It is better to take the same course from two different professors than two courses from the same professor. 3) Where you stand on an issue depends are where you sit. All historians try to get inside the brains of the key players; always hard to do. Different people with different political opinions/ideologies will always disagree over the pros and cons of any policy and the out come of that policy. The most insight comes from listening to a number of interpretations. Those reviews of this course that are critical may have some merit; however, in my opinion those critiques are minor compared to the major points of the discussion. Viewing this as one professor's interpretation of complicated issues provides valuable insight. Regardless of who did what to who and why; a review of the ultimate outcome explains how America got to where it is today. This course is well worth listening to. There are lessons to be learned and not forgotten.
Date published: 2019-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a Great Course The Professor is 100% genuine. He knows the material very well. I truly learned quite a bit from this course. The professor takes the student down a path that allows you to understand where our form of government was born. His thoughts were his own but based on a conclusions he obviously researched and examined in depth. Five Stars for this Professor.
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Diplomacy as History Professor Stoler takes a different approach to American history than is usual, just as he did in his course titled “A Skeptics Guide to American History”. For me, in that course he was not quite skeptical enough, but here he delivers full value in viewing the county’s history through a diplomatic lens. He begins before and during the revolution especially giving Benjamin Franklin credit for establishing sound relations with France even while the American Revolution was in full swing. This of course, helped bring France into the war, likely doing as much to win the war, as any other single factor. In the succeeding lecturers we are treated to a slightly different view of the Hamilton-Jefferson conflict and a different emphasis on Washington’s farewell address in which Washington warns about forming political attachments and alliances with foreign nations, but keeping commerce open. Next is one of my favorite parts, where John Adams receives high praise for his ability to keep a civil war from breaking out in America and at the same managing to avoid war with France. Adams’ diplomatic maneuvering during this time was extremely effective, but at the same time his political courage resulted in a denunciation of him by Hamilton, leading to an electoral defeat by Jefferson. Later lectures detail how his son, John Quincy Adams acting as Secretary of State drafted what is known as the “Monroe Doctrine”. This added to his many diplomatic trihumphs have led many to consider this Adams as the greatest Secretary of State the US has every had. Another interesting perspective is seen in lecture 9, that is concerned with the Civil War and the diplomatic efforts by both the North and South as they try to persuade Britten and France to keep out of, or to engage in the war. Of note is that here, as in many other arenas, the South came up short, especially when they thought it a good idea to embargo cotton, when Britten had a very large oversupply. There is much more. Recent examples that I liked were the maneuvering by FDR prior to WWII, the sharp criticism of JFK’s diplomacy, as well as some finely drawn arguments as to the realpolitik of Nixon and Kissinger. Many other reviewers (including some 5 star reviews) found the last two lecturers to be too polemic, especially after Dr. Stoler warns us all about historians looking at events that have occurred recently. While that may well be valid criticism, I enjoyed the fact that he was not afraid to comment on (almost) current events and make some judgments. The early warning he provides seems to me to be fair warning to us to take these views with a dose of skepticism.
Date published: 2017-12-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Retitle: “A Pampered Academic’s Thoughts“ My high hopes for this lecture were dashed after I did a little fact checking. For example, Stoler repeatedly gives a DNC talking that Democrats used in the 1984 Election against President Reagan, which the DNC lost. The Dems claimed that Reagan said that nuclear missiles could be recalled. If you look at the actual quote, Reagan was referring to the bombers and the submarines being recalled, not the missiles themselves. Stoler allows his personal prejudices to interfere with the facts.
Date published: 2017-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Perspective This is an exceptional history course. First, don't take this course unless you already have a basic knowledge of American history. The professor assumes a base level of knowledge so that he can go straight into the story. He starts at the beginning of American history and goes all the way to George W. Bush. The twist is that the familiar history of America is retold through our nation's approach to international affairs and diplomatic relations. The professor does an excellent job staying organized and telling a comprehensive and enlightening story. My one knock is that the professor gets a little too opinionated as he reaches more modern history. However, he keeps this minimal enough not to distract from the overall quality of the course. I gained new perspectives on historic events, which significantly deepened my understanding of topics that I already knew. I am extremely glad that I took this course and highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from really interesting I learned a lot. In a few places I maybe didn't know enough to quite understand the professor's point, but overall I felt good about the course.
Date published: 2017-05-27
  • y_2020, m_11, d_24, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_3, tr_64
  • loc_en_US, sid_8598, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 59.64ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought