America and the World: A Diplomatic History

Course No. 8598
Professor Mark A. Stoler, Ph.D.
The University of Vermont
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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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Reviews

America and the World: A Diplomatic History is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 66.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Survey Course!! I majored in U.S. History as an undergrad, and this closely paralleled the History of American Foreign Policy course I took then. That was a great course, and this is too. The Professor is engaging and on point. I was never bored. I can't say I learned anything new, but it was fun to revisit the topic. Given the array of events between the founding of the nation and the present day, this course would be even better if it was expanded to 36 lectures to allow more depth on some of the topics.
Date published: 2010-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Lectures Tracing the evolution of the United States into a global superpower, Prof. Stoler illuminates the side streets of American history where few survey courses, textbooks or even popular accounts and biographies take us. Of particular interest is his emphasis on Turner's "frontier" thesis, how the "idealistic," expansionist doctrine of American foreign policy strains outward against both territorial and economic limits as an expression of the "missionary" character of American democracy. The lectures are absorbing and beautifully structured; they present a coherent view of the subject that is clearly Prof. Stoler's own. Others may wish to discount that view, but it is proceeds from an assemblage of historical fact, and I am happy to be instructed in it.
Date published: 2010-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Nice Doggie" Will Rogers is reputed to have said: "Diplomacy is the art of saying, 'Nice doggie!' till you find a rock." After listening to this course and reading all reviews, the facts about which American leaders said "Nice doggie" the best are a bit difficult to discern. So, not knowing the facts, I offer yet another opinion disguised as a review. I liked and recommend this course because I enjoyed learning many new facts and facets of American History. Towards the end of the 20th C I felt there was more opinion than facts but maybe it was because I disagreed with Dr S's "facts". This is a worthwhile course for both it's facts and opinions - of course, facts for us sometimes are just opinions we agree with and visa versa. You will learn a lot of new facts, and yes, some opinions, about American History. There are many wonderful 'historical nuggets' that are sprinkled liberally through this course. Take this course and you will learn, at least, two things: what you like and do not like about american diplomacy and what Professor S likes and does not like - both are worthwhile learning. You will also learn a lot of how America dealt with difficult diplomat dogs and the many rocks they threw at them and how accurate was their assessment and aim.
Date published: 2010-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Outstanding Professor Stoler presented an excellent set of lectures. While I do have a few comments I gave the course very high ratings- it is simply outstanding. Some comments: 1. The odd pattern of placing emphasis at the beginning of certain words was distracting. 2. While it is obviously impossible to eliminate a ‘point of view’, the last lecture was so obviously one-sided that some sort of warning, or caveat, was called for. 3. Comments on the modern American economy seemed naïve. The idea that the economic expansion of the 1990’s was simply due to various forms of modernization, with no mention of the monetary excesses of the time, seems simplistic and at odds with the highly analytical character of the lectures. I consider these to be minor faults and recommend these lectures without hesitation.
Date published: 2010-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Myth-Popping, Lively, and Intelligent Course I found the audio version time well spent. Professor Stoller has a fine speaking voice; his grammar is impeccable; each word is clearly spoken --a real treat for the ears (and brain). Lecture 8, the “War With Mexico,” was one of my favorites. Dr. Stoller digs deeply into the causes and the mind of the time -- a collective conscious obsessed with ‘Manifest Destiny’ and racial superiority. The professor loves dismantling popular myths. He does a great job of putting to rest speculation that FDR might have rigged the Pearl Harbor attack. Admitting he’s still emotionally attached to JFK, the professor objectively shreds Kennedy’s disastrous foreign policies. I found the most biased and least satisfying portion of the course starting with Lecture 23, on the ‘Cold War.’ Reagan is described as an actor who may have had Alzheimer’s while still President. We’re told that Reagan made so many bloopers in his speeches that ‘the press stopped reporting them.’ Russia simply ‘collapses’ while Reagan happens to be President. Professor Stoller concludes that ‘Reagan’s role [in the Russian collapse] remains unclear,’ and covers many points made by Reagan’s critics and a few points from Reagan’s supporters. Indeed, if the general public liked Mr. Reagan, well, we need only to study polls to discover how ignorant many Americans truly were at the time. Bottom line: Overall, this is a bright and lively course that held my interest and made me think and question. It was a great review of many major events that happened in my own lifetime. This course, while very close to TTC at its best, only misses 5 stars because of the professor's patent bias in the final lectures.
Date published: 2010-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Lecturer Professor Stoler does a great job with the diplomatic history of the United States. After listening to this course, I realize how well it compliments other American history courses. He challenges commonly held notions held about American foreign policy, which was interesting all throughout the course even though their is a heavy emphasis on the 20th century. That would make sense considering that American foreign policy became far more complex at the turn of the century. He is also a very good lecturer. His loud tone made it easier to pay attention and he does a superb job of explaining complex topics. As far as him being bias over the last three decades as other reviewers have claimed, I did not really pick up on that. With all presidents in this course, he discusses the pros and cons of their foreign policy and seems determined to cover what viewpoints historians and critics have over their foreign policy. He said some negatives things about Reagan's intrepretation of the Cold War as a "good vs. evil conflict", but also discusses how successful he was at bringing down the Soviet Union and the success Bush senior had against Iraq (even though he did seem to favor that we achieved the mission and went home). He then discusses how interventionist Clinton was compared to the notion that he wasn't. It is dangerous to discuss current topics as a historian and even though he mentions that, he goes on to discuss them anyways. I thought he handled the modern foreign policy topics in a balanced nature discussing the pros and cons of what they did. This may get intrepreted in a negative way, but I thought he was relatively balanced.
Date published: 2010-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding I have listened to most of the modern history courses that the Teaching Company offers, and I found this one to be the most informative. I just wish it was longer than 24 lectures. Each lecture was packed with information, and I often learned new information that was not covered in any of the other courses. The course was fast paced but easy to follow. The only negative is that Prof. Stoler has a habit of accenting the first syllable regardless of where the accent should be, but that added a bit of humor to the course, and certainly did not take away from the wealth of material presented. We need more courses from Prof. Stoller
Date published: 2010-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear, concise, fast I appreciated the clarity of this Professor's delivery style. He moves right along, giving the subject adequate treatment throughout. Diplomatic history is complex, but he rarely gets bogged down in the details. The listener comes away with a solid overview from pre-Revolution to Reagan. Some TC profs mumble, swallow words, get caught up in their own notes, or disregard the listener. This professor never did this, always with respect for his audience. I hope TC offers other presentations by this lecturer.
Date published: 2010-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good, But Should Have Stopped at 1991 I thoroughly enjoyed this course and learned quite a great deal. I found the section between WWI and WWII where Prof. Stoler made the case that the US was not really isolationist during this period very interesting. The course starts with the birth of our country and goes through the presidency of GW Bush. My primary criticism of this course is that it should have stopped at the end of the Cold War. Prof. Stoler did a pretty good job of staying objective untill the last couple of lectures. The last lecture should have been a summary of the course. Instead, he spent the first part of the lecture quickly recapping the course. Then, he presented the disclaimer that a historian shouldn't talk about the present and then proceeded to talk about the Bush, Clinton, and Bush presidencies in a very opinionated manner. If not for this, I would have given the course 5 stars.
Date published: 2010-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Enlightening He is objective through the majority of the course. The contents are very interesting. He loses objectiviity in the last few sessions, which I believe reveals his political dealings. I would still recommend the course but prepare yourself for a liberal (Democratic Party) bias at the end when dealing with Reagan and Roosevelt.
Date published: 2009-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good But Not Great I agree with other reviewers that this course could have been better if it was longer and more in depth. Professor Stoler does a nice job of presenting the material in a coherent, chronological fashion, but time limitations prevent him from providing anything other than a broad overview of any particular time period. As a result, the course does not provide much in the way of new insights or information but succeeds as a survey. As a survey, I found the course largely confirming things I already knew rather than teaching me things I did not know or causing me to look at things I already knew in a different way. I would note that Prof. Stoler gets a little political in his last few lectures -- praising Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush, condemning Reagan and George W. Bush -- but I did not think his opinions detracted from the course (he does a pretty good job providing a balance). All in all, I recommend the course but it is not one I anticipate watching numerous times.
Date published: 2009-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Excellent course presented with enthusiasm and expertise. I strongly recommend it.
Date published: 2009-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice Job Very good overview of diplomatic history. The professor is a pleasure to listen to. My only complaint is that it could have been a little longer and a little more in detail.
Date published: 2009-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Puts today in perspective First, I have to say it took me a little while to get used to the teachers style. He frequently drags out his words as if wondering what to say next. After a short time however, I came to like this delivery in contrast to one or two others of TCC lecturers. Bottom line though I was absolutely fascinated by the course content. the lecturer is very good at explaining the reasons and people behind the events of American policy vis-a-vis the rest of the world and does not paint an airbrushed picture of everything always being to the greatest good or even anyone's good. He presents both pros and cons for most of the policy decisions and includes many quotes pertinent to the topic many still true today. I would hope this information would be required all our national leaders.
Date published: 2009-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Overview This course provides a superb overview of American diplomatic history; however, as other reviewers have mentioned, a longer course with more detail would be even better. The presentation could be improved. Dr. Stoler consistently over emphasizes the beginnings of words. There are even places where he is about to overemphasize the first syllable (like saying RE-form instead of reform), catches himself and pronounces it normally. He also uses odd pronunciations of names (e.g., Mao Zedong) and places. It is noticeable enough to be distracting. Overall, every American should have at least this level of background knowledge of American diplomatic history to understand the world today.
Date published: 2009-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential for 21st Century Foreign Policy Prof Stoler's course could not have come at a more critical time as America must reengineer its foreign policy to meet the realities of the 21st century. Prof Stoler succinctly captures America's foreign policy from it's founding to the present. He does an outstanding job explaining the rationale for America's foreign policy designs and how they were shaped by the internal and external dynamics of the times. He concludes with a timely caveat from John Quincy Adams about the dangers of actively seeking out monsters overseas to slay. Given recent debacle(s) in American foreign policy, this is a time to reflect and reconsider the appropriate use of American power on the world stage. Prof Stoler's course is an excellent vehicle for that reexamination. Like other reviewers, I lament that the course was not more extensive. However, an extremely useful companion to this course is the recently published (2008) book, "From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776," by George C. Herring. It corresponds almost exactly with the content of Prof Stoler's course material and provides more detailed information about the topics covered.
Date published: 2009-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A surprisingly good course! This concise course is an unexpected gem! It is full of tidbits of knowledge about the history of American diplomacy and of American diplomats. It was interesting beyond my expectations, and I learned a great deal about events I had known little of before. I'll never regard John Q. Adams and John Jay in the same old way again!
Date published: 2009-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Well Done Prof Stoller gives a nice review about the diplomatic history of the US from its inception to now.He was clear,succint,informative,objective and entertaining.His analysis of the US since its superpower status was particularly good.My only complaint is that this could have been a 36 lecture series with more details of American diplomacy in recent times such as The Vietnam War,Arab Oill Embargo,China&the USSR in the 70's,Carter &Malaise of 1979,Iran hostage crisis,,Reagan,Iran-Contra,The Middle East,Afghanistan both in 1980 and in 2001,The fall of the USSR,Gulf War 1,The Balkans etc.Nontheless it was an excellent course, well presented and germane.Despite its brevity I would recommend this course highly
Date published: 2009-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative! I enjoyed this course very much. I was sorry to see it end. I listened to this course during my time on a treadmill. The time flew by!
Date published: 2009-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course Superb course. Professor Stoler is well-organized, clear, and cogently shows how the pieces of the " Realism" and " Idealism" perspectives of American Diplomatic History fit into the sweep of U.S. History and policy making. I have a reasonably strong background in this area, but still learned a great deal thanks to the updated information and interpretations. I enjoyed the course so much, I am listening to it again. I do share one reviewer's sentiments that 36 or even 48 lectures would have been appropriate for the breadth of content. With that in mind, I hope TeachCo. contracts with Professor Stoler to do more in-depth courses on some of the topics. He is an outstanding teacher and this is a superb course.
Date published: 2009-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Lecture Good course that balances broad historical scope of American diplomacy and interesting facts that are lesser known in US history.
Date published: 2009-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice Addition to my Collection I enjoyed this course. Breaking down US history by Diplomacy gives an interesting perspective. I think the couse could have been longer. There were some gaps.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but Not Long Enough I looked forward to this course and was not disappointed. I learned quite a bit even though I have tried to study US history over the years. My main complaint is that 24 lectures are not enough for this big subject.
Date published: 2009-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good information, but often opinionated The professor provides useful infomation about the history of US foreign policy. His discussion of the achievements of John Qunicy Adams as Secretary of State was interesting, and not well known to the non-specialist. He also makes a good case for reappraising US foreign policy of the 1920s, which many have viewed as isolationist. Prof. Stoler points out successes in such areas as arms control and the use of European war debts to the US to encourage political rapproachement among European countries. On the other hand, as one gets closer to the present day, Prof. Stoler's own views become increasingly obtrusive and distracting, I think, even for those in basic sympathy with his views: i.e. spreading US values (bad), "intervention" of any kind (very bad). George Kennan, the skeptic of ideology and perhaps even democracy, is a hero and Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and W are savaged. This gives an anachronistic tone to some of the course, which is a bad thing for a historian.
Date published: 2008-12-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An important addition to a library We are all in the present moment. Many times inundated with news sources with a political bias. Even the course of a lifetime provides us with but a one-point prospective. This course of the Diplomatic History of the United States brings many points in time together to create a cohesive line of thought. This course reveals the many challenges American faced in it's early "fragile" formative phases and connects to the challenges we face in the present. I highly recommend this course for greater appreciation of current events and resultant better decision making.
Date published: 2008-12-23
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