America and the World: A Diplomatic History

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

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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

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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...
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America and the World: A Diplomatic History is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 66.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding delivery; packed with information This course is definitely on a par with Professor Stoler''s other courses. It is packed with information; not a moment is wasted. If your attention wavers briefly, you may need to back-track in order to review the last few senrences. If you have an intense thirst for knowledge and your mind works quickly, you will probably find this course fascinating. If, on the other hand, your mind works more slowly and you want time to mull over the ideas, you may find it overwhelming. Professor Stoler speaks with authority. His ideas are remarkably well-organized, which helps you to retain what you learn, to anticipate what is coming next, and to connect related events and ideas. Even if you think you know American history very well, give this course a try. The course delves deeply into many historical ssues, events, and personalities. You will feel a sense of satisfaction when you finish this course, knowing that you have a thorough understanding of the material, rather than a mere superficial familiarity with the facts.
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting historical perspective As the title promises – this course surveys history from a very particular perspective: foreign policy and foreign relations. Professor Liulevicius’ course “War Peace and Power: Diplomatic history of Europe 1500-2000” is the only other course I found in TGC that is interested in this particular angle, but for Europe – and I enjoyed it tremendously. Nearly all other TGC courses on American history focus on the internal dynamics of North America, or more particularly the United States. Even “American Revolution”, “Before 1776: life in the American colonies” devote almost of the time to the internal dynamics in North America although the relationship with Britain is of central importance for the historical narrative of both of these topics. In this sense the course provides a valuable and interesting perspective that complements many of the other courses. Not surprisingly, many of the lectures cover military conflicts and diplomatic maneuverings either for avoiding conflict or for laying the ground for it. Personally, I found the lectures covering the era after the war of 1812 to the beginning of WWI to be the most interesting part of the course, and the part that held the most insights that were new to me. This part covers the concept of “manifest destiny”, the genocide of the native Indians, the Monroe doctrine, the war with Mexico, the war with Spain and the new imperialism. I enjoyed Professor Stoler’s presentation of the material and found his analysis to be fair-minded and reasonable. He does occasionally express his own opinion, as other reviewers have mentioned, but I did not feel that this was detrimental to the course or created a bias. He was very clear in these cases that he was simply expressing his own opinion and it is no better than anybody else’s opinion.
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview course Diplomatic history is one of those areas of American history that is often overlooked or not given the attention or detail, as, for example, political history, military history or social and economic history. Prof. Stoler's course is really excellent, well-delivered and very thorough. Prof. Stoler "ties-in" those loose ends of historical knowledge that may be superficially known, but not with much detail, such as the Louisiana Purchase. While the American negotiators initially only wanted right of passage on the Mississippi River and full access to New Orleans, and were prepared to pay $12 million for that, the events in Napoleonic Europe lead Bonaparte to essentially give-away the entire French held lands in North America for $15 million. In the diplomatic history of the Civil War, Prof. Stoler discusses British and French economic and social policy and the effect on why the European powers essentially took a "hands-off" approach to U.S. and Confederate sides. It is these nuggets of historical fact that makes this course so interesting. Really a good course and well-worth the purchase.
Date published: 2016-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just a Political Slant shy of Excellence This is a great course, and one could say that it borders on excellence, but its one great flaw materializes right as it reaches its most relevant part. Professor Mark Stoler has a slant. Its not a big one, and it is one that he makes every effort to hide. It does, however, bleed through at the end. This is not the Professor's fault, however. It is commonly believed in recent circles of international relations academia that Gorbachev was just as important, if not more so, to the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, this is fast approaching a position of dominance. No, one cannot blame Stoler. The blame seems to rest entirely upon the shift in politics and new hands at revisionism that has steadily been chipping away at Ronald Reagan and salvaging Jimmy Carter since Bill Clinton left office. It is with that in mind that I ask you not to hold too harsh a judgment on Stoler. However, one should not take a bias that only really manifests itself in the last two lectures and that never intentionally attempts to manipulate the students as a reason to abandon this course. In fact, even if you had cut this course in half, it would still have been well worth the price. Too often we are given only a generalized view of our nation's diplomatic history, and Professor Stoler goes at length describing the evolution of our nation's international policies in conversation with the broader world. Stoler has a careful and easy way of speaking that allows for his words to sink into you as you go about your day. It is something of a vogue with these courses that quotes are brought forward to illustrate a point, but the selections Stoler chooses are among the most eminently quotable I have ever heard. So where do we go from here? Well, it ultimately depends on your reasons for purchasing this course. If you desired to learn more about politics and the development of foreign policy, the Great Courses seems to be more than a little short in that regard. However, there are a couple worth mentioning. War, Peace, and Power: A Diplomatic History of Europe is the most directly related course. It is not as good as this one, but it is nonetheless a powerful course. If you were looking more into the evolution of the United States, then the Great Courses is overflowing with resources. The History of the United States is monumental, yet accessible. If you are interested in the conservative tradition, american religious history, or cycles in american political thought, there are courses on them as well. Or, perhaps you'd like a step back and take a look at the big picture? In that case Foundations of Western Civilization II is a fantastic course.
Date published: 2016-08-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Like sitting in a courtroom I bought this because of the high reviews and my desire to become more informed about the topic. Maybe my opinion of this lecturer is tainted by the fact that I listened to two other courses by two other lecturers before listening to this one, and both of them were fantastic. It could be that the material would be great (I gave it 3 stars to try to be fair), but the presentation is terrible. He really sounds like he is arguing a case to a jury - about 10% of the time he drops into a mode where for 5 - 10 words he pauses substantially after every word, as if he thinks we'll listen more closely because he is pausing. For the other two courses, I couldn't wait for my next 30 minute car ride to squeak in another lecture, but after the first lecture from this course, I was so disappointed that I did something else for the next few car rides to avoid having to listen to the guy again. After a few days, I gave the second lecture a try, and I found myself watching the clock to see how much longer until the end. When I found that I was dreading having to listen to third one, I decided to cut my losses and just dump this one (hence the low score on value). i guess if you prefer lawyer-style presentation to conversational presentation, this might be a good one.
Date published: 2016-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from America and the World, a Diplomatic History Excellent. Fascinating. Explains events and their causation in US History. Several layers deeper than the US history I studied in high school. Also a history of the United States - something of a refresher. (I was not a history major in college.) Certainly one of the better Teaching Company history courses.
Date published: 2016-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from America and the World: A Diplomatic History A valuable insight into the history of the United States that is seldom appreciated by our citizenary.
Date published: 2016-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable Perspective on American History It's easy to pick on our nation's elected leaders and the decisions they make. This course provides more perspective on why those decisions might have been made. For that alone, this course is likely worth the purchase price. That and the explanation of important historical occurrences make this course very worthwhile. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2015-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another skeptical view of American His Any period of history is filled with successes and failures, battles won and battles lost. The historian applies a perspective on history when he chooses which details to emphasize. I have much enjoyed the wonderful story telling and motivational view of history found in courses like "History of Freedom" by Professor Fears. I recommend that course to everyone. However, courses like this one that don't sift through the facts but rather provide both praise and criticism to history's players are essential to anyone truly interested in history as a path to understanding. To this end I was drawn to "A Skeptics Guide to American History" by Professor Stoler but found it somewhat unsatisfying. (Please see my review of that course.) I tried out this course immediately after completing that one. I found this course more satisfying. This is the one I recommend.
Date published: 2015-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mindblowing I was really iffy about purchasing this course. I really wasn't sure that I would get much out of a course on the diplomatic history of the United States when I had already taken other TTC courses on US history in addition to all the American history I've been exposed to in high school, college, books, and the like. Wow, was I mistaken. Not only was this course extremely exciting - due in no small part to the professor's dramatic and charismatic lecturing style - it also gelled together all of the historical concepts of American foreign policy that we're all taught in school into a framework of understanding that gave me an entirely new appreciation for the brilliance of US history and the statesmen who shaped it, as well as a new and better informed perspective on the role of the US in the world since 9/11.
Date published: 2015-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A different view of American History I've listened to many TTC courses on American history and this came from an entirely different perspective. I remember from high school the terms "Manifest Destiny" and "The Monroe Doctrine" but I sure didn't remember all the details. This course reminded me of those and all the swings in American foreign diplomacy. How we got from isolationism to being the world's conscience and all the steps in between are clearly discussed in this course. You will gain many insights into our country's attitudes about its place in the world.
Date published: 2013-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Insightful Course I have the DVD. Professor Stoler’s presentation is excellent. He speaks clearly, has no annoying “tics”, and maintains his focus toward the viewer. He knows his material well and has amazing recall of detail. Delivery is mainly from the podium, and is a “just the facts” style presentation with little in the way of humor or anecdotes. His use of notes is primarily confined to direct reading of quotations. The course provides a more comprehensive look at American history than its title implies. It comes at you from a different perspective than most history courses. The emphasis is on U.S. diplomacy in its ever-changing forms…from security and isolation to expansionism. This is accomplished through treaties, economic and military means…and outright purchases of land and regime change in the case of expansionism. Policies are implemented as a result of political considerations…sometimes through Congress, sometimes by the President, and sometime by both. In short, at any moment in history, an examination of diplomacy actually involves a deep look at the country’s status and interests… the politicians, and power brokers behind it…and the foreign impetus. The professor takes you on that journey. Since, political considerations deeply underlie that diplomacy, I was pleased to see that Professor Stoler manages to be apolitical in his discussion. He offers his opinions but is even-handed in his treatment of the diplomatic and domestic ventures of all political parties and of the politicians and agents representing them. With the privilege of hindsight, he provides the facts to back up his assessments and disposes of some myths. The course is excellent. I highly recommended it as one which provides an understanding of America’s history…not simply a timeline of facts. You’ll learn the driving forces and reasoning behind its foreign policies…from its early formation to the present. His last lecture is excellent in utilizing a summation of that history to understand the recent past and its implications for the future. It is a history we can learn from if we so chose. The lessons are many.
Date published: 2013-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one of the best This is one of the best courses I've viewed. Professor Stoler is an intense presenter and his course is full of interesting and relevant detail.
Date published: 2013-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from in my Top 10 of nearly 100 TC courses This is a superb course, both for people who know a lot about US history and for those who don't. I'm in the former category and I learned a lot, especially about the complex diplomatic situation after American Independence through the War of 1812; the amazing achievements of John Quincy Adams as Secretary of State; and some of the foreign aspects of Manifest Destiny when some in the US were trying to acquire land in Central America. I also found the discussion of WW I and President Wilson's massive diplomatic failures extremely interesting and balanced. The coverage of the 1920s and 30s was also superb, making clear that the US foreign policy leadership was unilateralist, not isolationist. I found each lecture absolutely worthwhile. Prof. Stoler is an excellent speaker, who very clearly presents both the facts and his point of view. If you have an interest in US history or in foreign policy, take this course.
Date published: 2013-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! In this series of lectures, Professor Mark Stoler provides an enthralling fresh look at United States history by systematically examining its relations with foreign countries from 1776 to the 21st century. He certainly steers clear from the myths that are too often conveyed and presents his own interesting points of view that have doubtlessly been polished by years of consideration. It is truly intriguing for instance to listen to the links he draws between the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Certainly, many, like me, rejoice at his presentation of the Reagan years _ though fans of the former actor will certainly not appreciate. Though there are a few repetitions, the lectures are extremely well organized. Sadly, Professor Stoler displays an annoying speech mannerism by detaching the first syllable of all too many words: de-ter, ad-ministration, de-fense, in-terceptor,, so-ciety, etc. Overall, however, this course is very strongly recommended to all with even a minimal interest in historical matters.
Date published: 2013-06-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good, but opinionated professor OK, I can recommend this course, BUT... I have to say that I do not appreciate it when a lecturer unnecessarily injects his own personal preferences, as in this case when the professor tells us who was a good US president and who wasn't -- in HIS opinion... that is bound to be highly divisive! The course develops well the history of US overseas diplomacy, and is often rather eye-opening. I can't help but feel that this ought to be a longer course, to provide more details and deeper information.
Date published: 2013-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye-opening overview of foreign policy An excellent course on an aspect of American history that is rarely presented. Putting events from the revolution to the present in the context of foreign policy gives the audience a completely different perspective on many decisions that were made by our government, oftentimes in areas not apparently directly related to diplomacy. A very well organized series of lectures, with the discussions very meticulously pulled together and well presented. Incidentally, it is a very good refresher course on US history. The discussion of the post-World War II era and the Cold war in particular are very well done.
Date published: 2013-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Helpful Guide to U.S. Foreign Relations After recent viewing of Great Courses in the history field delivered by fluid and dynamic lecturers (Professors Aldrete, Hale, and Liulevicius), this course by Dr. Stoler, whose speaking style is slow, deliberative and at times halting, involved a distinct change of pace. However, any stylistic limitation is more than compensated by his solid historical content and astute analysis. This course traces America’s diplomatic history from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War. Roughly the first half deals primarily with U.S. relations with the European powers throughout the 19th century. To me this was the most valuable part of the course as it covered in illuminating detail various international disputes and treaties of significant historical importance with which I was only vaguely familiar. The second half is devoted to the 20th century, emphasizing initial American isolationism from global involvement and, with the two world wars and the Cold War, the evolution of U.S. policy and public opinion into an activist and finally dominant role in world affairs. Having lived through the period from WWII myself, I experienced much of this history as current events, and so these lectures were personally less instructive, but nevertheless offered a useful refresher on the global turbulence of the past century. Dr. Stoler is not withholding of criticism of American leaders and their failings and mistakes in hindsight. While probably of a moderately liberal bend himself, he is almost equally critical of both Republican and Democratic administrations. I do not fault his critiques, as they are well argued and documented, and are mainly consistent with my own views. Overall, this course is a valuable guide to America’s international relations and is recommended to all who wish to expand or sharpen their knowledge and understanding of U.S. diplomatic history.
Date published: 2013-04-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Buy The Audio Version I purchased this course because of the rave reviews and the intense interest I have had since high school in American history. While this course is fairly interesting, the visual aspects of the presentation (on the DVD version) bring it down a star in my book. As I watched this course, I was constantly distracted by Prof. Stoler's lack of camera sense; he constantly takes several seconds to realize that they've switched to a different camera, and then makes a noticeable turn. Sometimes, he will remain speaking to the wrong camera for 10-15 seconds. He also speaks. A. Little. Too. Slowly. And. Carefully. This made me a antsy, as I could usually anticipate the point he was about to make. Generally, the information in these lectures is quite good, as Prof. Stoler stays on the theme of foreign policy, and its evolution throughout the American experience. I found myself closing my eyes during the video lectures, and actually being able to concentrate better on the material. (The on-screen graphics are almost always just the quotations Stoler is reading.) For sheer visual irritation, I would not recommend the DVD version of this course. However, the audio-only version might prove more interesting to a jogger or commuter. There is no lack on enthusiasm for this material by the professor, but seeing the presentation made me squirm. Get the CDs.
Date published: 2013-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Wonderful Professor Stoler is an expert in his knowledge in American diplomatic history. I was engaged in all 24 lectures and thoroughly enjoyed them. I gained such an appreciation of American policy, as it certainly explains much of why the US did what they did in the past. Thank you, Professor Stoler and TTC for such a great course! Keep it up!
Date published: 2013-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unexpected Greatness. I bought this course because it was steeply discounted. I had already listened to a handful of other courses dealing with American history and didn't expect much new with this one. I was very wrong. I was amazed at all the things that I learned that I had not known before. The information was fascinating. It gave me a totally new perspective of U.S. history. Most of the time U.S. history is studied from the perspective of the people and events happening just in this country. I was pleasingly surprised with the perspective of the United States as a part of global affairs. I highly recommend this course, even for those who think they already know a great deal about American History.
Date published: 2012-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 Star course I am a college graduate but never really got a decent education in american history and thus I ordered this course for purely educational basis and it served this purpose wonderfully. The course is very well organized. Stoler is an expert and skillful lecturer very knowledgeable in his subject matter. He delievers the lecture with sincere enthusiasm that engages the listener and makes them look forward to the next lecture. The course outline in the guidebook was well structured and a useful adjunct to the lectures. The two questions at the end of each section were thought-provoking and nice to read ahead of time as Stoler actually does try to answer them during the lecture. (I've watched other courses where it seems the lecturer just gives questions and doesn't address them at all during the lecture.) Stoler did an excellent of presenting all sides of the historical accounts of US diplomacy and presented the facts to allow the listener to make up there own mind about a certain action. I finished the course with a much better understanding of America's relationship with the world and the prevailing ideologies that led to these relationship. If I have one criticism it is that the course could easily have been twice as long as it in order to provide more background detail. I also highly recommend US and Middle East course.
Date published: 2012-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Balanced and educational I bought this course both to learn about the US's past foreign policy and to be able to decide for myself which were "good" presidents and which weren't. I was surprised by what I found. This course is definitely educational, interesting, and keeps your attention. It relies on your overall knowledge of US history, and fills in a lot of details that we haven't learned about in the text books. But (happily) it didn't help me pigeonhole good vs. bad presidents. Instead, he very adroitly explained the US presidents' foreign policy successes and failures, and they all have 'em both. It left me with a much more nuanced sense of history and a strong desire to learn more.
Date published: 2012-07-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommend But may take Up More Space Than Needed DVD version. I bought this course in prep for a "U.S. Foreign Relations" course which I will take in the fall, but it did more than I expected. It provided more background on topics from military history such as nuclear treaties, or the Philippine Insurrection. I also learned about America's informal empire in Latin America like Cuba. Professor Stoler also made a clear distinction that no history professor I've had ever made: that George Washington in his Farewell Address warned of emotional alliances, not entangling alliances (Jefferson). I would recommend the course but have some issues with the DVD cases and transcripts. I was a bit surprised that the 4 were divided into 2 cases with 2 DVDs per case, since other courses of 24 lectures like this have all 4 DVDs in the same case. Thus, dividing the DVDs seemed unnecessary and take up more space on the shelf than needed, but I can see this being useful for course that are 36, 48 or more lectures. But it did prove helpful for the transcripts to be divided into separate parts, but the longer shape make the transcripts take up more room on the shelf which would not have been wasted if the size was limited to the size of DVDs.
Date published: 2012-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from America and the World--Best Course So Far Finally! Someone willing to discuss Reagan objectively, getting beyond the myth. This was a truly excellent course, and I particularly enjoyed the professor's willingness to tell both the good and the bad about America's leaders. Wow. You should listen to this one if you have an open mind and want to learn.
Date published: 2012-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic I got this one from the library. It was excellent. Professor Stoler pulled off a tremendous effort to encapsulate US foreign policy since the founding of the country. Furthermore, his suggested readings list is very helpful for those who want to learn more about particular topics. I blew through these lectures in two days because they were so fascinating and vital to world events today. I had read and studied about these events before, however Professor Stoler links and contrasts major foreign policy decisions with previous policies and ideals. For example, John Adams is revealed to have prevented a war with France. I had never know of the possibility of what could have and near had been. This war could have destroyed the fledgling nations, which at the time would have been hard pressed to face one of the great powers of the world . Revelations like these are the very reason I view these courses. John Quincy Adams as well was presented to me in a new light, and the wisdom that would prove prescient warning to prevent against "monsters to destroy" quote. The Monroe Doctrine was presented in a new light--not one purely of isolationism as I had thought and Woodrow Wilson was not an isolationist as is commonly perceived. There are tons of insights like this throughout the course, and I really enjoyed the last lecture that ties it all together. I want more insights from historians on current events. How can we learn to prevent the mistakes from the past if historians remain silent on current issues? There is a bias that colors Professor Stoler's analysis. This did not detract from the quality of his lectures, nor did his style of speaking detract from his presentation. I enjoyed the emphasis he gave as it added as a way of understanding ideas he wanted to give added weight to. Overall, it was an excellent course.
Date published: 2012-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Insightful This course provides a well thought out and consise view of America's Foreign Policy through out its history as a nation. It highlights the success and short comings of the leadership in power at key intervals and has warnings for future policy makers. It is a must for anyone interested in history.
Date published: 2011-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding and well delivered course I have just finished listening to this course, and have to say that it is one of the most interesting and well-delivered courses that I have purchased. Dr. Stoler does an excellent job of organizing the material, and keeping the listener's interest. As you might infer from my review, I purchased this course in the downloadable audio format, which is how I buy almost all of my courses. This course is very well suited to that format, and the accompanying outline contains maps that help chart the historical progress of the nation as it expanded across (and beyond) the continent. This was one of those courses that you hate to finish. However, it is meaty enough to merit another listen down the road.
Date published: 2011-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For All Lovers of American History Simply stated, if you love American History, this is a must have course. We think that so much of what goes on in today's world is so unique to us, only to find a lot of it has been going on since George Washington with the Jay Treaty as a prime example. You may note that other reviewers took exception to the professor's bias regarding JFK, Nixon, Carter and Reagan. It didn't bother me, perhaps because I lived through all of those. What I did find of interest was how our foreign policy went awry in Eisenhower's second term in office and that it has never been set back on course ever since then. Take the course. It is a marvelous journey through history that not only fills you in on things you never knew but explains the reasoning behind the decisions made.
Date published: 2011-05-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from from scholarship to partisanship This course starts strongly, with Professor Stoler ably explaining the early diplomatic history of the United States. By the time he reaches JFK, listeners receive a warning that Professor Stoler will not be able to treat recent presidents and events dispassionately for he confesses that he still feels emotional when he hears JFK's voice. Not surprisingly, he finds Jimmy Carter's diplomatic record better than commonly thought, and says it is "unclear" what role President Reagan's policies played in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Professor Stoler mentions that some think Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's while in office, no doubt hiding his own views behind the passive voice. In his Reagan lecture, he talks about cultural artifacts from the eighties like the nuclear freeze movement and a made for TV movie called "The Day After" but never mentions the "tear down this wall" speech. Oh, and do you know why President Reagan was so popular? Professor Stoler says it's because Americans are dopes-he puts it more elegantly but that's his take. Professor Stoller doesn't know what connection Reagan had with the Soviet collapse, but the people who lived behind the iron curtain sure do. He says nothing about the connection between the US arms build-up and the Soviet economic collapse while trying to compete. It doesn't get any better in the course's last lecture. After declaring that the Iraq War is too recent to be treated historically Professor Stoller proves his point by calling the war a blunder and attributing it to President Bush's arrogance and his relationship with his father . (He does concede that President Bush believed Saddam had WMD.) So be advised that from 1960 on this course is what you'd find in academia, an inability to acknowledge what happened from 1980 to the present, both diplomatically and domestically.
Date published: 2011-01-06
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