American Revolution

Course No. 8514
Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Princeton University
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4.7 out of 5
134 Reviews
89% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 8514
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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."

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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

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

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

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Your professor

Allen C. Guelzo

About Your Professor

Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Princeton University
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities and Director of the Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. 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...
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American Revolution is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 134.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from new details I live in New York but didn't grow up here. Hearing all of the detail of what happened here and elsewhere 240 years ago puts everything in a new perspective. I didn't know Fort Lee was famous before Bridgegate or that it was named after a revolutionary general (if not necessarily a good one). The professor makes me want to revisit a lot of places.
Date published: 2016-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A focused and in-depth account of the revolution This is my third course on American history, the others being “History of the United States”, and “Before 1776… “. The first is a huge survey course (84 lectures), that manages to cover all of US history with significant depth, while the second is an advanced course on the colonial era. The current course is also of the specialized, narrow scope and high depth category focusing almost exclusively on the narrative military and diplomatic history of US during the American Revolution. Curiously, there is relatively little time devoted to explaining the circumstances that led to these quite unforeseeable circumstances in which a handful of feeble colonies rose up in revolt against the strongest empire of its time. Fortunately, this is covered well in other TGC courses including the two mentioned above and exhaustively in “origins of Ideologies of the American Revolution”. Though the main thread of the course is to cover the different battles as they occurred chronologically, significant threads introduce the center stage players – Washington, King George, and General Howe to name a few; a few other threads are present. One introduces the diplomatic power dynamics between the colonies, England and some of the other Great European powers. France’s eventual joining on the American side and its decisive role in winning the war for the colonies is also explained very thoroughly. As mentioned in other reviews, this course is strictly focused on the conflict narrative and on themes directly connected to it that are required to understand this conflict, and this it does outstandingly well. It is by no means a wide social or cultural survey of this era. This is the second course I have heard by Professor Guelzo. In both courses I found him to be highly entertaining, often adding wry and provocative observations as he proceeded through the lectures. The lectures themselves were extremely well structured, easy to follow and highly enjoyable. They contained many fascinating insights that were new to me.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The American Revolution While most of us are familiar with the chronology of the American Civil War and WWII, the sequence of events during the American Revolution is not as well known. Professor Guelzo's well organized, fact -filled, and often humorous description of the American Revolution answers that need in an exceptionally clear and entertaining manner. I have listened to over 100 "Great Courses" offerings in a variety of subjects and consider the American Revolution to be the most outstanding.
Date published: 2016-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! I loved this course! Dr. Guelzo tells a wonderful story and keeps the lectures gripping. This provides excellent coverage of the topic and does so in a very enjoyable, organized structure.
Date published: 2016-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenges Overcome to Establish a Nation Imagine the dimly lit room in Philadelphia or the pub in Boston where you quietly listen to discussions of unfairness imposed by King George III on the small colonies of North America. A Stamp Tax and other stifling taxes on the goods produced by the colonies were "the last straw" for the new Americans. It was time for Great Britain to hear the mighty voice of this ill-equipped group of rebels. The powerful technique of storytelling by Dr. Guelzo is impactful and entertaining. It was difficult for me to turn off the audio at the end of the day! Anyone desiring a true understanding of the formation of our country must listen or watch this course. The insights and descriptive prose of Dr. Guelzo places the listener in the scene of the various battles. You feel as though you are joining General George Washington as he leads the troops and suffers tremendous casualties yet continues the fight for ultimate freedom for our country. This course is well worth your investment of dollars and time!
Date published: 2016-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Low quality of CD's, which in many cases is not very good. For example, skips - rather have to skip a track because recording "stuck" or repeats or worse is not audible! Content - very good that I can "listen" to.......................
Date published: 2016-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative but could be better This is the 23rd history course from The Great Courses that I have taken and reviewed. This review is based both on the content of this content and how this content compares with the other 22 history courses I have taken to date. On the plus side, Professor Guelzo is a storyteller and presents this material in a light and entertaining manner which keeps the student’s interest. The excerpts quoted from letter, journals, and official reports on both sides of the conflict provide valuable insight into the mindset and motivations of the various participants. While the various major battles are important, understanding the social, political, and economic environment surrounding the American Revolution are even more important. Professor Guelzo does a very good job of describing these social, political, and economic factors. On the minus side, there are two significant deficiencies in this course. #1. Professor Guelzo is from Gettysburg College in eastern Pennsylvania and he seems to assume that the student is familiar with the landmarks, geography, and topology of the area of the American Revolution. This is especially evident in his descriptions of the battles on Long Island, upper state New York, and New Jersey. In his descriptions of these battles, Professor Guelzo makes frequent reference of ports, rivers, landmarks, towns, etc. on the assumption by Professor Guelzo that the student is familiar with these locations. Since I live about 3,000 miles away from New York City, my knowledge of the landmarks and topology of the areas of the American Revolution is about the same as the knowledge that the residents of New York and New Jersey would have of landmarks and topology of the Northwest US and Western Canada. #2. Most of the descriptions of the battles do not display maps of the battle area and the locations of the various military forces. When maps are displayed, they are only displayed for a few seconds and are not displayed during the description of the ensuing battle. This is a major weakness that is not contained in the vast majority of the other 22 history courses that I have taken. Instead, the method that is used in the other 22 history courses is to have a map of the battle area displayed during the majority of the battle description and some of these other courses also contain animations which should the movements of military forces during the battle. This type of enhancement would be a great improvement to this course. All in all, this is a good course and an informative course but it could be a better course. I still recommend it as source of information about the American Revolution.
Date published: 2016-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Go with audio Good course, engaging professor (if a little goofy). If you are considering audio vs video I would go with the former. Video content is mostly some portraits (often ones that keep coming back again), some battlefield schematics of limited interest, and what I take to be generic or stock battle paintings that have been crudely enhanced with smoke and fire effects. Nothing important. This has come up before, but I would again suggest to TGC that audio product be bundled with video product. If we've paid for the video AND audio by buying the video product, we would like to have the more convenient (mp3) audio-only files available for use in car, if the video content turns out to be inessential.
Date published: 2015-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Filled in Knowledge Gaps This course gave me a good overview of the American Revolution, far beyond what I had obtained in American History courses in high school and college. It is certainly a worthwhile course to fill in that knowledge. Professor Guelzo was animated and interesting to listen to. The only improvement I might recommend is to provide more graphics of how battles were laid out and progressed.
Date published: 2015-10-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Overview I have no doubt that the American War for Independence could be analyzed in enough detail so as to create material for a 1,000 lecture course. Coming in at only 24, material had to be edited. I think they did a great job of it. This is an ideal course as an overview of how the war went down. There's enough details to flesh out the story nicely, but it stops short of becoming an encyclopedia of the event. It was pretty perfect for my own needs. I wanted to understand the war better, but I have no intentions of teaching this course myself.
Date published: 2015-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Class But Overly Simplistic Allen Guelzo does a good job at presenting information on the American Revolution, but this has the feel of a high school class. His tone is the tone that one would use when speaking to high school students. He also presents his point of view without explaining alternative points of view. Despite these problems, he does get most things right (at least from my point of view). Guelzo focuses more on tactics than on strategy, which keeps things simple, but leads to some misinterpretation. His focus on battles rather than on campaigns keeps things very simple, but it causes him to underestimate the importance of the militia. For example, the militia were able to control most of the countryside, except for those spots physically occupied by the British. The militia annihilation of the the Hessians at Bennington, and the militia annihilation of the British and Tories at King's Mountain helped to lead to the capture of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga and Cornwallis' army at Yorktown. Guelzo mentions these, but he does not develop the thought. The class would also improve with a little more focus on events leading up to the American Revolution. Guelzo does a reasonably good job, but there is definitely room for improvement.
Date published: 2015-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good course It's been a few years since I watched this series on DVD, but I remember thoroughly enjoying the lecturers presentation and the course content. I've been out of school for a more than a few years and it was a nice refresher on the Revolutionary War. It is something that more people in our great society should be more familiar with. It's not too detailed as to get mundane and boring, but hits the major events in detail. Overall, a very good review of the Revolutionary War.
Date published: 2015-05-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from What happened to the Revolution? I was really disappointed in the Revolution course. In a nutshell, Boston started everything, started a meeting at Philadelphia, hired George Washington, who fought lots of battles in the north and got beat every time except Trenton, won Yorktown and the war was over. Believe it or not, the Revolution happened in all 13 colonies/states. It was not a foregone conclusion that it would happen anywhere. How it developed in all states is necessary to understand the whole war. History of the various battles was very skimpy and in some cases just plain wrong. Believe it or not there were many major battles in the south. Some even say the war was won in the south. There are many fairly new works by outstanding historians on Cowpens, Kings Mtn, Camden, Guilford Court House, Eutaw Springs, and others that were obviously not consulted. The war in the south was more of a civil war than a revolution. I should have been wary when the professor's obvious specialty is the Civil War. Could you not find someone with a Revolution specialty? Compared to the other courses I have purchased, The American Revolution needs a total reworking --- and probably a lengthening to 4 discs. The problems of the Confederation, finance, troop recruitment and support and the treatment of the soldiers/sailors/officers by the Congress at the end of the war were either not mentioned at all or very lightly glossed over. Washington's personal leadership was given short shrift, as was Nathaniel Greene's -- and others. The lack of treatment of America's dealings with the French was very disappointing, as was the support provided by France. Many scholars believe that without French money, more than anything else, the war would have folded much earlier. Washington's and Clinton's intelligence (spy) battles would have made an interesting program. The effect of Lafayette on the French support was never even mentioned -- and he learned to be a commander of troops from Washington and proved very effective in keeping Cornwallis in VA at the end. The partisan war in the south could have made 3 to 6 fascinating lessons -- and those leaders made the militia in the south much different than in the North -- reference Eutaw Springs, for example. Properly led militia troops were key at King's Mtn, Cowpens, the race to the Dan, partly at Guilford, and definitely Eutaw Springs. There is much more, but you should get the drift by now. Poor effort compared to others.
Date published: 2015-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Interesting Very in depth look at the American Revolution. Was enjoyable to watch for any history lover
Date published: 2015-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Each lecture consistently interesting and informative.
Date published: 2015-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE American Revolution If a friend asked me: "Tell me about the Revolution", what would I say? "Eh, um, there was Bunker Hill," I'd start, "and uh, yes, Washington was really heroic cause he ambushed Corn Wallace, and that basically won the Revolution. And [scratching my temple], yea, and there were the French, too..." Now that isn't the answer you'd want to give, is it? Professor Guelzo would say: "Let me tell you a story." And he does a marvelous job of it.
Date published: 2015-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Filled in the Gaps Along with all my school mates, I studied American History in grade school, high school, and college. There was quite a bit to learn and I remember most of it. Guelzo's course fills in a lot of material that wasn't covered in any of the schools I attended. Examples include: 1. Yes, Arnold was a traitor who felt unappreciated. This course explains why he felt that way and the circumstances of his hasty departure for the other side. 2. Courses in our schools tend to focus primarily on the American political situation. Guelzo explains why the English made the decisions which led to the war which, in my mind, are just as important. 3. American textbooks often expose the incompetence of the English but not of the Americans. Guelzo doesn't pull his punches here: American idiocy is exposed. In addition, he discusses the backroom politics (and backstabbing!) driving the opposing factions of the American leadership. Very interesting indeed. Is Guelzo a bit overdramatic? Yes, sometimes he is. But, he is also able to make the subject really come alive. At the end of each lecture I felt that I couldn't wait to start the next one. Even though I knew how the story ended, Guelzo managed to fill the journey with suspense. (Ok, the bits where he'd mess up in the middle of a sentence, clear his head, and go back to the beginning was annoying. But it didn't happen too often...) After watching this course, I have purchased all of Guelzo's other courses and I wish he'd do a full length course on the War of 1812 and another on the Mexican-American War.
Date published: 2015-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wish All My History Classes Were This Good! I can't add much to all the reviews already posted. I do, however, want to add my praise for this course. For people who think history is dry and boring, please get this course. Dr. Guelzo is phenomenal as he tells the story of the American Revolution. It comes alive under his superb lectures. Thank you, Professor Guelzo.
Date published: 2015-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Ma-vuh-lus Without any hesitation, this was superb, masterful, educational, and entertaining. I enjoyed every minute. The overall quality of this course, my friends, is why I patronize TGC: from the depth of content to the expert delivery to the adequate number of images—I feel like I got my money’s worth. I was sorry to see the closing credits roll by. Actually, I got this with as a set with another course and put it aside because it just wasn’t high on my must-see list at the time. I mean—the Revolutionary War. Come on! But once I started, I was completely engrossed. In fact, I found myself on the edge of my seat during 3-4 lectures discussing battles. There is a large cast of characters, some familiar but many unknown, who make their way in and out of each lecture, but most of them play recurring roles, and as time goes by you know who they are. At first it seems difficult to keep track of everyone, but halfway through it all starts to click. The usefulness of listing regiments serves to illustrate their sizes and where they come from. It’s interesting to know which states supplied the most support. I did learn a lot: 1) many of the battles were must more brutal and disorganized than I had expected, 2) the geographical boundaries were not limited to New England and a few Canadian bouts, but included campaigns in the South and in the West, 3) sometimes families were divided in their loyalties, 4) there were a lot of Hessian mercenaries who made their way over, many of whom went missing, 5) Congress was a really lame, 6) egos ruled the day, except for Washington. And much, much more… Professor Guelzo is outstanding and a first-rate TGC presenter. On video, I think he’s quite articulate. The video experience is worthwhile. It’s just the professor and an old fashioned podium, which he paces by all the time. It makes you feel like you’re in class with him. And he’s by far the best reader of long quotes. TGC ought to pass out samples to every TGC presenter for training purposes and say, “This is how it’s done!” Also, there are quite a few images in the way of maps, portraits, pictures, paintings, prints, etc. Many are repeated, which helps to get a feel for the battles and the people. My only complaint is with the Guidebook’s use of hung. People are hanged by the neck, while shirts are hung out to dry and pictures are hung on the wall.
Date published: 2015-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun and Engaging I've really enjoyed this course. The material was interesting, and the presentation was well organized, and engaging. Professor Guelzo has an expressive voice with no irritating verbal quirks. Of course, a series of lectures like this cannot go into great depth on the subject, so one should consider this an overview of the war. Nonetheless, I do recommend it.
Date published: 2014-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite Enlightening The animated, story telling Professor Guelzo has an obvious passion for this subject and it comes through loud and clear in his lecture. The stories he tells of how we came to be the United States of America were sometimes gripping and always enlightening. He certainly caused me to think about all that went on in this war with England and did an exceptional job of pointing out all the great many pitfalls both sides stepped into. All told, the brilliance and mastery of George Washington as both a General and the Father of our country shines through. Including the internal plots and schemes to get rid of him. It is hard to imagine what he accomplished considering the uphill battles he had to fight and having so few means of communication available to him. If you have any interest in the American Revolution, this is indeed the course to take. He puts you right in the middle of the action, explains the thought process behind many of the strategic moves and provides a great feel for what the Revolutionists were up against. Makes me proud to have come from such stock!
Date published: 2014-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Zard review of the American Revolution To date I have never been disappointed IN ANY of the lecture series and this was no exception. There is the usual facts and great graphics and interesting perspectives and side stories in the series but what made it 5 Stars for me was the presenters presentation. Dr. Guelzo tells a great story. And that was what it was like. He had all the facts with him but he conversed in a personal and dynamic way. I felt throughout the entire lecture series that I was in his living room and we were sipping Jack Daniels while he shared his stories and views on what happened (truth be told I was doing a little sipping during the various lectures). He made it a personal experience and I re-watched parts of all the series because they were packed with information and so, so entertaining. This series was like a GREAT book. The kind you start slowing down towards the end because you do not want it to stop. Said another way, Dr. Guelzo is a great performer and this was a great lecture series.
Date published: 2014-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful, Narrative Approach This review will concern the audio CD's: Although Dr. Guelzo has been on the Great Courses faculty for many years, this is my first encounter with him for TTC. I have, from time-to-time, seen some of his programs on The Military Channel, The History Channel, and other sources. Dr. Guelzo is a very engaging, captivating speaker. In the first lecture, he gives an excellent "scene builder," as he relates how, in a previous endeavor, he served as a tour guide in New England, during the mid 1970's. He gained my attention from that moment on. I appreciate the narrative style that the professor uses: it is similar to that used by Lowell Thomas, and Edward R. Murrow, during their coverage of World War II in Europe. Dr. Guelzo goes into much detail during his narration, and, at times, too much detail, for my tastes. When he started listing entire catalogs of regiment numbers, company numbers, brigade division numbers, etc., my mind went into the "tune-this-out" mode. After all, such information is , more than likely, going to be quickly forgotten. What I think most people taking this course are looking for, are the key concepts, ideals, and noteworthy personalities. These are the items that will be remembered. and the benefits retained, long after the course is completed. I used these lectures as listening material while taking my walks. On most every lecture, after hearing the title, I would file the title in the back of my mind. I would make a little "game" in which I would listen and attempt to determine, why that title was chosen. On many occasions, I had almost completed the lecture, and my walk, before the reason for the title became apparent. This little mental exercise helped me get through some of the tedious material, especially all the regiment numbers given above. Such figures as George Washington, Benedict Arnold, the Howe brothers, and King George III, take on new meaning during these presentations. For example, I had previously learned from TTC course on , "The Skeptic's Guide to American History," that George Washington had lost many more battles than he won, but here, however, it gave me a better appreciation for those key battles that he did win. As for Benedict Arnold, we often have a bad taste in our mouths, after knowing that he was a deserter and a traitor. However, as these lectures demonstrate, he was a key figure, on the colonial side, in the first years of the war. The story of his eventual defaulting, and its' aftermath on both sides, are given in great detail. It is quite interesting, to say the least. Another thing that I really appreciated, to which I alluded to above, is that the professor narrates details from both sides of the Atlantic. Many times, such presentations on the revolution, only give the viewpoint from this side of the Atlantic. Professor Guelzo is truly a master at weaving all these many pieces, into a wonderful tapestry, that endures for generations to come. Although this certainly is not my favorite TTC course, not is the professor my favorite, it is far from being on the bottom of the list either. I now want to get the American History course, of which Dr. Guelzo is one of the presenters. Although this course starts off with many of the social, and political, causes of the revolution, it #like the revolution itself,#turns to a military affair. I highly recommend it to anyone that has any interest at all, in the formation of our country.
Date published: 2014-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Presentation Professor Guelzo held my attention throughout his presentation. He touched upon facets of our history that were never fully explained to me before. He wove a story that was as spellbinding a tale as I have ever heard. Where was he when I was going through college? He made learning both fun and exciting!
Date published: 2014-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvelous I just finished listening to the audio version of this course for the second time. This is most definitely NOT a series of dry lectures on the Founding Fathers, dates, and battles. Rather, Professor Guelzo narrates a story that keeps you on the edge of your chair (or car seat): drama, comedy, jealousy, laziness, fear, pain, frustration, desperation, resolve, incompetence, betrayal, and heroism -- the story of the people who _were_ the Revolution. This is about those who fought, from the lowliest private soldier to the commanders-in-chief of the Continental and British forces. And it follows them through the twists and turns of a war far smaller and far less well-known than the Civil War (though twice as long), but with a cause no less desperate and with characters no less flawed and no less heroic. Take this course; you will be rewarded.
Date published: 2013-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A War Story that begat a Nation Caveat: I am not an academic or a historian, just someone who is interested in American History. It is important to understand what this course is and what it is not. It is about the military history of the American Revolution and the people who fought it. It is not about romantic notions that have been immortalized in art, political speeches, cable "news" punditry, or various works of fiction. Dr. Guelzo presents the military strategy, tactics, supply and environmental conditions in the context of the times. Of course, some background of events leading up to the revolution are included. Dr. Guelzo is an engaging speaker who sets the stage for his style when explains in the first lecture that he was a tour guide of Valley Forge and Philadelphia while attending graduate school at Penn. A tour guide needs to knowledgeable to answer a range of informed and uniformed questions while being entertaining enough to hold the audiences attention while distractions abound. Dr. Guelzo has perfected this craft orders of magnitudes beyond what was required during his humble lecturing beginnings. He is a masterful storyteller. He presents the strategies of each Commander in Chief, how well their approaches worked or didn't and situational adjustments that each made. He shows the individual battle tactics and their success or failure. He gives examples of the use of intelligence and deception on both sides. He also explodes several long standing myths such as the Winter weather in Valley Forge being especially harsh when it was really rather mild. I especially appreciated his referral of Tom Paiine as a "gift" from Britain to the US. For without Paine's "Common Sense" pamphlet the cause for rebellion may not have been taken up by the commoners (largely non-English ancestry immigrants) who ultimately had to carry the weapons and fight the battles. Nor may these citizen soldiers have continued to fight if Paine had not written his "Crisis" essays. Paine was America's first "embedded reporter" in battle. Having descended from a Captain in the PA Militia who fought in the Philadelphia Campaign, I also appreciated Dr. Guelzo's fair treatment of the militia. Given that the militia were largely untrained and often carried slower to load but more accurate rifles vs battlefield ready muskets (if they had any weapon at all), Dr. Guelzo's characterization of them as not performing well in the lines but being effective when firing from cover is largely accurate. He also points out that the militia played a crucial role in keeping the loyalists in check and enforcing colonial law to confiscate possessions for forage from those who refused to sign a loyalty oath to the patriot cause. The interlaced stories of George Washington and the other generals are fascinating. The real story of Benedict Arnold is more complicated and intriguing then his just being a traitor. Charles Henry Lee, Horatio Gates, and Adam Stephens provide other examples of generals behaving badly. OTOH the stories of Nathaniel Greene, Daniel Morgan, and Henry Knox balance these out. The role of the foreign officers: Lafayette, Von Steuben, etc provide another interesting story thread. The interplay between Washington and the Continental Congress, who had lofty goals but provided less than adequate support are also explored. By the same token, Dr. Guelzo provides a real sense of what the motivations and hardships were for the individual continental soldier. The American Revolution is not just an American military story, but also a British one. Dr. Guelzo presents the picture of what the strategy, thinking and interplay was among the various generals/admirals: Gage, Howe (Wm and "Black Dick"), Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, Cornwallis and Clinton. He explains the context of the mercenaries or "Hessians" and their alignment with the British regular forces. He also explains the war politics of the British home front with the interplay between the likes of King George III, Lord North, Lord Germain, et al. Just as in the case of the continentals he also vividly shows what life was like for the British soldiers. Of course the famous battles of Lexington/Concord, Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Germantown, Charleston, Cowpens, and Yorktown are covered in detail; but so are lesser known battles such as Kaskaskia and Vincennes. The plights of African Americans and Native Americans are also explored. Likewise the diplomatic efforts of Franklin to bring the French into the war on the American side are presented in the context of what was happening on the battlefields. So how is it that the greatest military power in the world lost a war to a bunch of rag-tag, unprofessional, largely immigrant soldiers led by gentleman farmers, merchants, and even a bookseller? Well here's where the romanticism and the reality part ways. Dr. Guelzo explains the truth about Britain's commitment to the war vs its other worldwide economic interests, the difference between its world class Navy and its, not so much, Army (the later being the fighting force in the colonies), the failed strategy of depending on rallying American loyalists to do Britain's fighting on the cheap, and the real level of support in Britain for paying taxes to finance King George's war. Some earlier reviewers have negatively commented that the material presented seemed to come in large part from British sources. There is some truth to this, but for good reason. The British military had a long tradition already by the time of the revolution and likely had historians and/or cartographers in the regiments to record military tactics and battle details. The Americans were lucky to have sufficient manpower to even stage a campaign so GW and his aide de camp, Alexander Hamilton used their pen and ink to write letters requesting aid from the Cont. Congress and the states. Since Congress disbanded the military after the war there was no organization left to do any military archiving, unlike the British. Another complaint is that there was too much detail about all of the individual regiments who fought in the battles. Perhaps so, but this is pretty standard in military histories. Again the British had the edge here as their numbered regiments continued, many to this day. The American continental regiments and the militia units have little tie to today's military. The bibliography in the course guide is spot on. I have read several of the books cited and they provide the information that Dr. Guelzo says they do. The guide could have provided more and better maps however. Remember, unlike the Civil War, photography had not yet been invented before the revolution. Many of the paintings of the revolution were done after the fact and with a romantic bias (Does anyone really believe Washington stood up in the boat crossing the icy Delaware river?). So it is up to lecturers like Dr. Guelzo to "paint" the real picture of what happened. This he does in a very vivid way. Beware: after taking this course you may become a hooked American Revolution fact-finding "junkie". Go for it!!
Date published: 2013-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from American Revolution A masterful storyteller, Dr. Guezlo, again has proven why he is the best teacher of many great professors at the Great Courses. Every citizen of this great country should be required to get this class. Dr. Guezlo course delineates the importance of the Revolution; furthermore, the concepts that changed our country and Britains! Well done Sir!!!! Keep it up! You too Great Courses!!!!
Date published: 2013-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wherefore art thou Benedict The best part of this course is learning about all the interesting people who populated both sides of the conflict. Washington, Light Horse Harry Lee, Benedict Arnold, The Howe Brothers, John Burgoyne and many more. The professor does a good job of fleshing out the character of each of these men. For instance, I never understood the Benedict Arnold story before, tending to simply write him off as a traitor. Now I think I realize how the Continental Congress' treatment of the man who played a huge role in wiping out an entire British Army and was seriously wounded for his country would leave him bitter and ready to jump at the first sign of interest from the other side. I also was interested in the conflict between Harry Lee and Washington and Lee's seeming sabotaging of Washington. I made me think that if Robert E. and Harry Lee had swapped time and place both the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars would have been over in half the time. Unfortunately the course does have a bit of a downside. As the course moves along it becomes increasingly obvious that the instructor is reading every word. If he makes a mistake in the middle of a sentence, he goes back to the beginning of the sentence and rereads it. While his information is very good, it can be painstaking. This is especially true of the roll call of individual units every time there is a battle, a brief engagement or even just the movement of troops. Quibbles aside, this is a course that any American with an interest in the origins of the country should watch, though I would suggest the 84 lecture overview of the country first. Professor Guelzo absolutely shines in the first half of that course as his storytelling and ability to make characters come alive is pushed to the forefront.
Date published: 2013-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprised me Sadly, I am on Lecture 24 of 24. I don't want this course to come to an end. Professor Guelzo has an entertaining manner (CD) that makes military maneuvers riveting. I have been late to work several days as I have sat in my car listening to find out what happens--even though I already know what happens! Professor Guelzo throws in a lot of interesting details and trivia that brings the military actions to life. Anyone with the slightest interest in American History should treat themselves to this course as you are bound to learn things you had no idea of. I'd buy any course by Professor Guelzo simply because I enjoy his delivery. My only complaint is he, like most other lecturers, trails off at the end of sentences so you occasionally miss that main point.
Date published: 2013-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best course I've ordered Really enjoyed his balanced and thorough lectures.
Date published: 2013-04-02
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