American Revolution

Course No. 8514
Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Gettysburg College
Share This Course
4.7 out of 5
124 Reviews
89% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 8514
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is well illustrated and features over 630 illustrations, portraits, and maps. Among these are a replica of the type of uniform worn in the British Army; detailed maps depicting troop movements and battle plans at Saratoga, Bunker Hill, and more; as well as portraits of military leaders including George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and Nathaniel Greene.
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

Has there ever been a more unlikely war than the Revolution that won America its independence?

Why did those 13 colonies, with nothing resembling a unified and trained army and with no navy to speak of, believe they could defeat the most powerful nation on the planet?

And why was Britain, no matter how powerful, confident that it could prevail, even though burdened with a 3,000-mile supply line for troops and provisions, a "circuit of command" for time-critical orders that could consume three months or more, and the constant need to divert its forces, whether to protect against slave uprisings in the Caribbean or against the looming threat of the French on both sides of the Atlantic?

Considerations like these are indicative of just how unlikely this conflict was, Professor Allen C. Guelzo notes in his gripping new course The American Revolution. And they are far from the only ones.

Why did the British fight the way they did, "served up by seemingly unthinking generals in solid rows of walking targets while the Americans crouched Indian-style behind rocks and trees"? Why did the Americans end up fighting this same way?

Why did George Washington, in an uncharacteristically fractious move, lash out angrily at his troops, labeling them misfits and mutineers?

What moved King George III, even after Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown, to ask his secretary of state for America to put on paper the "mode which seems most feasible for conducting the war," clinging to a belief that the Americans might yet be subdued?

And, finally, who really deserves the credit for defeating the British army?

Was it the Continentals, gamely overcoming all odds? Was it the French, entering on the American side not purely out of friendship but also as a first step in converting Britain's colonies into their own? Or was it perhaps both of these factors-along with weather, terrain, timing, and sheer luck? Above all, why was the American Revolution really won not in America at all, but in the Caribbean?

As Professor Guelzo explains the answers to these and many other questions, you find yourself gaining a fresh understanding of the factors that made America's victory possible.

You see how issues such as logistics and the human factor can influence strategy, tactics, and the course of battle. Or how happenstance can prove even more important than either of those key factors. And you gain an appreciation of how opposing sides can experience completely different perceptions of the same conflict-with key decisions influenced by those differing perceptions.

Beginning with a clear presentation of what Jefferson referred to in the Declaration of Independence as "the causes which impel [the Colonies] to the separation," Professor Guelzo presents a startlingly vivid narrative about the war for independence.

Although built on a solid foundation of the principles and politics underlying the conflict, The American Revolution is primarily about what Professor Guelzo calls the conflict's "actual mechanics as a Revolution-an armed uprising against the most dominant military power in the world."

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Imperial Crisis, 1763–1773
    Driven close to financial collapse by the French and Indian War, England turns for help to the colonies that had fought at its side. The new taxes—imposed without representation—outrage a people who had considered themselves fully English. x
  • 2
    The Ancient Constitution
    Britain's understanding of its ancient—although unwritten—style of government places it at odds with that of its colonists, who see in John Locke's theories not a hypothetical "thought experiment," but an argument for autonomy. x
  • 3
    "A Soldier What's Fit for a Soldier"
    What were the typical British soldier and officer like? How were troops organized and equipped? You meet the forces expected to maintain order in the increasingly rebellious colonies. x
  • 4
    "How the British Regulars Fired and Fled"
    As tensions escalate and the first Continental Congress convenes, King George III finally heeds a request for reinforcements. Nevertheless, the British sorely underestimate American militia and suffer a humiliating defeat at Lexington and Concord. x
  • 5
    Standoff in Boston, 1775
    As Benedict Arnold helps win a key victory at New York's Fort Ticonderoga, the Second Continental Congress authorizes a new army under George Washington, a soldier and gentleman farmer well aware of the implications of the conflict, including the risk of potentially rebellious slaves. x
  • 6
    Bunker Hill
    Could rebel militia stand up to British regulars? The answer comes at a brutal battle where the British pay dearly for their "victory." Nevertheless, Washington arrives to find disorganization, overconfidence, and a reluctance to set aside regional differences in favor of a national army. x
  • 7
    The King, the Conqueror, and the Coward
    Ignoring the reconciliation implied by the colonies' Olive Branch Petition, the king and Parliament effectively declare war. On either side of the Atlantic, British leadership believes the many Americans still loyal to the Crown will bring victory. x
  • 8
    Conquering Canada, Reconquering Boston
    An American plan to conquer Canada nearly succeeds and costs Britain half its regulars. But even after the arrival of British reinforcements, American forces pull off a stunning improvisation: the overland transport of critical artillery, captured at Fort Ticonderoga, to Boston. x
  • 9
    Common Sense
    While poor communication, unclear objectives, and the uncertainty of participation by southern Loyalists hamper Britain's strategies, another force comes into play—an extraordinarily popular pamphlet that helps turn the tide of American opinion toward the independence made official on July 4, 1776. x
  • 10
    An Army Falls in Brooklyn
    The optimism of July 4th proves short-lived. Washington's army is poorly manned, poorly supplied, and poorly trained, and his officers have little practical experience. Even worse, an incorrect reading of British intentions leads to a disastrous defeat and a retreat to Brooklyn. x
  • 11
    "A Glorious Issue"
    With New York occupied by the British, Nathan Hale captured and hanged as a spy, and Washington's troops on the run, Thomas Paine provides inspiration with a new pamphlet, The American Crisis, and Washington provides further hope with a surprise victory at Trenton. x
  • 12
    Joy in Princeton
    After additional successes—again at Trenton and then at Princeton—a break in combat gives Washington time to reorganize his army, by building on a touching appeal for reenlistments. Britain, meanwhile, learns the Loyalists and fence sitters are badly shaken. x
  • 13
    "Congress Are Not a Fit Body"
    In March 1777, the Continental Congress faces new tasks, including establishing, outfitting, and managing an army. Unable to solve these challenges, the delegates blame the costly army—and Washington—and move to ally with France. x
  • 14
    "America Is Not Subdued"
    News of Trenton and Princeton forces an unwelcome reassessment by Parliament of the requirements for victory. British Major General John Burgoyne is put in charge of his own strategy of invading from Canada, but things do not go according to plan. x
  • 15
    "A Day Famous in the Annals of America"
    Burgoyne suffers a series of defeats and surrenders near Albany. The news energizes parliamentary opposition to the war, but the king is unmoved. Then comes more bad news: The Americans have signed a treaty with the French. x
  • 16
    "Not Yet the Air of Soldiers"
    General William Howe, British commander in chief in America, sails from Staten Island, intent on reaching Philadelphia. Washington blocks his way but suffers a series of defeats. Even news of a great American victory by Horatio Gates at Saratoga carries rumors of threats to Washington's command. x
  • 17
    With Washington at Valley Forge
    Washington settles in for the winter of 1777–1778. Although there are no battles, he must deal with shortages of clothing, housing, and food as well as attempts by Gates and others to undermine his authority in Congress. There is one victory—new treaties with France. x
  • 18
    The Widening War
    For the British, the possibility of French intervention heightens costs and logistical strain and requires a redeployment of naval forces to protect its West Indies interests. x
  • 19
    The French Menace
    With efforts to create an American navy stymied, the bulk of the French intervention will be carried by her navy, which proves a distraction to the British. x
  • 20
    Vain Hopes in the Carolinas
    The British believe victory might lie southward, but they cannot depend on the Loyalists. x
  • 21
    "The Americans Fought Like Demons"
    Nathanael Greene is appointed to take over the southern army after Gates's defeat at Camden. His innovative strategies are successful, ultimately forcing British general Cornwallis to admit that the Americans can "fight like demons." x
  • 22
    The Reward of Loyalty
    Indian tribes loyal to Britain suffered the worst. On the American side, there was mutiny by the Pennsylvania Continentals and the betrayal of Benedict Arnold. x
  • 23
    A Sword for General Washington
    Cornwallis moves into Virginia to cut off Greene's supply and recruiting and to establish a naval station. But he underestimates American and French strength. x
  • 24
    "It Is All Over"
    The course concludes with the fates of the war's major figures and a summation of what the conflict meant to most Americans. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Audio Download 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
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 12 CDs
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • Maps and Battle Plans
  • 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

Allen C. Guelzo

About Your Professor

Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Gettysburg College
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor

Reviews

American Revolution is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 124.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exactly the right level of detail I am a Canadian and had only a cursory knowledge of the details of the American Revolution. This course provides a comprehensive overview of the war at an undergrad college level. I am writing a historical novel that is partially set in 1776 Long Island and the content of this course is what I needed. I have a better understanding of why some people living in the North American Colonies were Patriots and others Loyalists. I have a new respect for the founding principles of the United States of America and a better understanding of my own countries foundation. Canada formed as a country based on the melding of two founding peoples, the French and the English. The difference between the American pursuit of "life, liberty and happiness" and Canada's motto of "peace, order and good government" became clearer to me as I watched the early lectures in this course.
Date published: 2018-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This course exemplifies why I like Great Courses. This professor does a fantastic job of telling the story of the military history of the Revolutionary War. This course basically skips the build-up to the war, and it completely skips any attempt at social history. The professor tells you upfront that his intent is to explain the major battles of the war and focus purely on military history. While the causes of the war are important, as are the social history aspects of the war, this course intentionally selected a narrow focus then nailed it with a great performance. This course is better than some because it has such a clear focus. If you want to know more about the build-up to the war, the Great Courses also offers Origins and Ideologies of the American Revolution, which covers the topic.
Date published: 2018-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, colorful detail We purchased the audio download, as we've done with several of these courses, to listen to on long distance drives. This one was particularly entertaining as the lecturer displays his incredible breadth of knowledge and detail. Seems like we arrive at our destination in no time!
Date published: 2018-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another winner by Professor Guelzo This another winner by Professor Guelzo . I had my doubts that I could learn anything more about the Revolutionary War or that I wouldn’t be bored to death. Wrong on both accounts. Prof. Guelzo is a skilled lecturer, entertaining as well as informative. This is a course on the War itself rather than the founding fathers. So much has been written about the amazing people that helped found this Country that the War is often ignored. My only complaint (a minor one) is that the good Prof. kept referring to Admiral Lord Richard Howe as “Black Dick Howe” , Lord Howe’s nickname given because of the Admiral’s swarthy complexion. I suppose this was used by Prof. Guelzo to differentiate the Admiral from his brother General William Howe. Professor Guelzo’s use of these kind of details is usually entertaining but after a few uses of the nickname to entertain us and show the Prof.’s knowledge it got to be a bit wearing since the Howe brothers were so prominent in the history of the Revolutionary War and were mentioned often in he Course. Otherwise, the Course gets a perfect score and I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2018-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Many Things I Didn't Know One of my favorite lectures. Absolutely fascinating. Having a degree in political science, I thought I was fairly educated about the American Revolution. Wrong! I was riveted to the next installment of Professor Guelzo's tale of intrigue, betrayal, cowardness and bravery. This truly is a Great Lecture.
Date published: 2018-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The speaker is very engaging and really brings the history to life.
Date published: 2018-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dramatic story Puts well-known events in very informative historical context.
Date published: 2018-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Our war correspondent is on the battlefield Guelzo is one of the greatest of the academics who have collaborated with the Great Courses. He possesses superb authority, rhetorical ability and first-class acting skills. His description of the military plans, movements and battles of the Revolution is lively, rich, sensational, and in places humorous, moving though not overly sentimental, and seems objective in that it does not cover-up aspects embarrassing for the final winners of the conflict. This is no hagiography, eulogy, a panygeric or propaganda, far from it. For one thing, absence of self-criticism would lead to an internal contradiction when telling the tale of the heroic deeds which led to the conception of the Empire of Liberty. Professor Guelzo clearly states that his remit is strictly military history-the discussion of sociological and economic forces or of the implications of American Independence for the future of the World, though not entirely absent, comes second or even third. I think that all those less concrete and direct historical reflections and speculations should have been exposited at length (they are probably to be encountered in other Great Courses). I mean the question of how do you find the moral (e.g., courage, indignation) and organizational resources (incl. monies) to revolt is really interesting and should be treated in depth. Notwithstanding Guelzo’s brilliance, sadly I cannot give full-marks for Professor presentation or course content for one very simple reason: there is a serious lack of maps. It is a beginners’ mistake and very foolish. Most of the skirmishes and battles which Guelzo so wonderfully narrates should have been additionally illustrated by graphics (existing graphics are few and rather simplistic). The maps in the Course Guidebook are rather second-rate (blurred and very dark, hardly readable), besides they most certainly do not cover all the clashes and military manoeuvres alluded to. What a pity! The problem is easily resolvable though—first get a good map, ideally a historical atlas, and then put on Guelzo’s delightful tape. So it would be very narrow-minded on my part to reduce the overall number of stars awarded to the course thus putting-off prospective buyers just because maps lack.
Date published: 2018-03-23
  • y_2018, m_11, d_11, h_19
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_2.0.8
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_2, tr_122
  • loc_en_US, sid_8514, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 6.44ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought