America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Balanced, but perhaps too optimistic I appreciate Professor Allitt's wide scope on contemporary history. This is the only lecture on The Great Courses that covers recent events, and I am grateful it exists. Allitt is extremely competent and informed. That said, I struggle with Allitt's unabashedly optimistic view about America, and I don't feel that Allitt takes a critical enough view of inequality in America. Still, I find it hilarious that another review on this site from someone on the right, is angry that Allitt doesn't praise America enough. Perhaps that shows that Allitt actually is pretty balanced, annoying both those on the left - like me - and right.
Date published: 2021-03-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Should be negative The United States Today When I look at the events taking place in this country today, I see a communist dictatorship: 1. A show trial is underway to impeach a common citizen in order to remove him from an office he does not hold 2. The rules for this trial violate every precept for legal proceedings as laid out in the Constitution 3. The cancel culture, aka Borking on steroids, is rampant The federal government is actively purging conservatives from positions throughout the bureaucracy Private companies are doing the same for positions throughout their ranks obviously in order to curry favor with the government Conservatives like Ted Cruz and Elise Stefanik are being removed from advisory positions Vicious verbal assaults on anyone taking a leading position against the ruling class or can be misrepresented as doing so – like the lawyers who argued for voter fraud and Nick Sandmann – are being carried in the press 4. Freedom of speech has all but disappeared Certainly in the universities At the high-tech companies that control the social media On internet sites that solicit comments 5. The President has dictatorial powers He is issuing diktats without going through the Congress He has intervened to cancel a valid contract between private parties 6. Incredible laws are being proposed that would eviscerate the Constitution HR-1 would legalize every potential voting problem identified in the Carter-Baker report of 2005; it would essentially eliminate fair voting FFHA would strip suburban cities of their authority Washington DC would be shrunk to a block or so in order to create a new entity that could be given statehood 7. The threat from right wing terrorists is being trumpeted throughout the land by Deploying a small army to occupy the capital Fencing the Capitol building from the public Declaring a military stand-down while the military ranks can be purged of such riffraff A litany of provocative statements from the Congress 8. Surveillance of individuals has become pervasive 9. The mainstream media is acting as the mouthpiece of the Democrat Party. The United States at the End of the Cold War Thirty years ago, the start of the period covered by Professor Allitt’s course, the US held a position of power probably unprecedented in the history of the world. Its military and economic power were clearly dominant over any competitor and it probability held a similar position in moral authority due to its role in destroying most of the communist world. Thus, the period covered by Professor Allitt was catastrophic for the United States. His series of lectures does not cover this catastrophe in any way. In essence, he has painted a portrait of Hades using only pastel colors. While it may be true that he taped the lectures before the final communist takeover, it did not happen overnight so there were myriad clues over the entire period. The entire course was a misrepresentation of the history of this period. Problems with the Course The means of misrepresentation normally take two forms 1. Distortion 2. Omission. Professor Allitt uses both liberally. I will provide a few distortions from memory, but there are many more. 1. “Concern for global warming started when a scientist noted that global temperatures correlated strongly with increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” This statement was accompanied by a chart with a single line showing that atmospheric CO2 grew almost linearly from about 300 ppm to 400 ppm over a little less than 150 years. There was no chart for global temperatures to show the correlation. Probably because it did not correlate well. The warmest decade of the 20th century was the 1930s. Then he mentioned the models that predict dire consequences for the future if the trend continues. These models have been around for about 50 years and there have been at least hundreds that have made predictions for a year prior to 2020. Not a single one has been close to accurate. The famous hockey stick was shown to output the same result irrespective of the input. And then there is East Anglia. The published data has been falsified at every level from collection to model output. 2. “The Obama administration was free of personal scandal.” So were the Bush and Trump administrations. But the Obama administration was guilty of the worst scandal in American history, namely the actions to steal the presidency from Donald Trump and its follow-on. 3. “Brett Kavanaugh was the subject of credible evidence of sexual assault.” I assume he meant Christine Blasey Ford. Not a single statement she made could be corroborated by anyone or anything and many were refuted by eyewitnesses. In addition, he provided a set of notebooks that constitute a diary for most of his life, including the years of interest. There is no mention of Ford and the entries essentially rule out his being present at the time and place of the alleged incident. Finally, her cross-examination resulted in many points on which she perjured herself. 4. “The Mueller Report showed that Russia had acted on his behalf during the campaign and that he could not be exonerated.” The Mueller team consisted of all virulent anti-Trumpers. They found no evidence whatsoever to show any collusion or other illicit act. But the report contained a second volume that was outside the purview of any prosecutor. It contained speculations about what might have been. I read this report carefully and found its quality nothing short of atrocious. If there had been charges, disproving them would have been trivially easy. 5. “As a result of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, three women formed Black Lives Matter.” The three women have all admitted to being communists. The organizational skills, military sophistication, and funding profile evidenced by BLM are far beyond the capacity of these women. This organization is run by professional agitators who took advantage of a black criminal being killed by a police officer to push their political agenda. 6. “Trump forced Mexico and Canada to scrap NAFTA and negotiate a new treaty.” Any of the three countries was free to pull out of NAFTA if it felt that it was better off without it. Trump chose to do so. Negotiating a new treaty was dependent on each believing that doing so was in its best interest. The new treaty is better for the US, but that does not preclude its being better for Mexico and Canada. It seems clear that the experience of NAFTA was used to generate a better treaty for all involved. 7. “Obamacare provided medical insurance for 24 million Americans.” First the number includes those who obtained insurance and those who signed up for Medicaid, a welfare program, I think in about equal numbers. More important, the number is misleading. Correct studies compare outputs. Most government studies compare inputs. For example, government figures specify the number of blacks entering college while the relevant statistic is the number graduating; the numbers are dramatically different. In this case, the relevant statistics are The amount of medical care provided The total cost of this care Obamacare has driven up the cost of medical care with no significant change in the amount of care provided. 8. “Obamacare is so popular that the Republicans have been unable to rescind it.” There is no evidence that Obamacare is popular. There are polls that show that it has reached 50%, but those polls are not scientific. We have seen how polls can be wrong because the pollsters have learned how to obtain the results they want via many tricks of the trade. The Republicans had the votes to repeal the law except for the vote of John McCain. Look at the structure of the course. The first 6 lectures are chronological, followed by 5 that are thematic, and then the last one is titled “The Trump Upset.” So Professor Allitt saw Trump as different, as winning unexpectedly. So how did he pull this off. Maybe some Sanders supporters did not support Clinton, but probably more Republicans did not support Trump. The only other reason Professor Allitt mentions is that Trump tapped into citizen dissatisfaction with the direction of the government. But the previous 11 lectures do not indicate what that dissatisfaction was. I think there was a civil war going on, but with subversion of our institutions, not guns. The communists were winning and thought they would cross the finish line with Hillary in 2016, but she lost. So they declared war on Trump and the majority of Americans. They succeeded in taking over the government and are now trying to solidify their hold forever. Professor Allitt has nothing whatsoever to say on this train of thought. Yet it is the only such train that is consistent with the reality of America today. I have listened to about 200 Great Courses. I bought most, but have been listening on Plus for the last year. Obviously, I give most of them high grades, but I have returned 3 and terminated listening to one this past year. This course is in a league of its own. It is deliberate misinformation, so I would grade it as a negative if that were possible.
Date published: 2021-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Balanced View of Turbulent Times Professor Patrick N. Allitt always brings thorough historical information along with helpful insights. In the case of this course in recent history I was particularly impressed because having lived through all these events myself and knowing the political divisions we face in America, I was very grateful for the balanced and fair perspectives Professor Allitt brings as he seeks to present the most relevant historical facts to our attention.
Date published: 2021-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nonesense I learned nothing and in many of the events he described, where I lived and experienced, he exposed a basic and biased side.
Date published: 2021-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good, though Dense The years since 1990 have been tumultuous, encompassing several major wars, a bevy of smaller ones, the emergence of the European Union, and technological and cultural changes as far-reaching as cell phones and the internet. Prof. Patrick Allitt surveys the course of US history, policy, and more over the past thirty years in this 12-lecture series, "America After the Cold War." This course presents a welcome overview of an important topic: the end of the Cold War signaled a new footing for America’s international affairs, and to a large extent the world as well. What would replace the bipolar standoff that had so long influenced global politics, and for that matter, how would Americans respond culturally to no longer having Russia to compete against? What about other shifting features of the global landscape, such as the rise of non-state terrorist actors and burgeoning centers of global power in Asia? Prof. Allitt’s course proceeds in roughly chronological order from 1990 onwards, beginning with the Clinton administration and going through those of George W. Bush and Barack Obama before concluding circa the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Along the way, and in tandem with politics, he addresses topics like the continuing struggle over civil rights and the changing face of education in America. This course covers a large amount of significant material, but you may have to be prepared to watch more than once or go out and do some of your own research to get the most out of it, especially if you didn’t live through the events he’s talking about, or if you don’t remember much about them. Almost every sentence in this course could have been a lecture in and of itself. Prof. Allitt is precise and measured, thoughtful and nonpartisan, and everything he says is appropriate and informative. But the course could easily have been twice as long, and arguably should have been. Again, viewers may need to treat the lectures as a springboard, a way into more detailed understandings of the issues. (This is especially pronounced in the first lecture, which intimidates as it tries to cover about thirty years prior to 1990. The pace settles down a bit after that, but only in relative terms.) Prof. Allitt himself is a pleasure to watch and listen to, always engaged but never overeager as he zips from topic to topic. His body language holds viewer attention even though he spends the entire course sitting down, and his presentation is lively despite a series that can sometimes be a bit of a barrage of names, events, and ideas. I would love to see a sequel course expands on some of the issues and ideas raised in this one, but in the meantime, I would certainly encourage viewers to check out this course. Often, history this recent isn’t treated in history classes, leaving people to either do significant amounts of research on their own or remain ignorant. But these are the events that have shaped the world we’re in today, the possibilities and problems we’re struggling with even now. I’m grateful that a course exists to introduce us to them. ~
Date published: 2021-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course on Current Events You know it is kind of fun to watch a course about the history in which you, yourself, were alive to experience it. Since a lot of the events that he looked at occurred when I was much younger, I did not totally understand what was going on at the time. Now however I can look back on it with historical hindsight to observe it and at least appreciate to a certain extant that it happened and I was alive to see it. Professor Allit is easily my favorite and the best history professor that the Great Courses has hired. He has a way of looking at both sides of history, the positive and the negative and leaves you to decide for yourself how to view the events. He is not afraid to point out the successes and failures of government policies under Clinton, Bush, and Obama. I do not include Trump in this as his presidential career had not concluded, though I am sure that future Great Courses professors will not be kind to him. This course is a nice compliment to the large American History course that Professor Allit also taught.
Date published: 2020-12-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from "Just one d. . . thing after another" Not what I expected, given the Cold War in the title. I expected some analysis of the post-Cold War period in the light of the Cold War. It was, as they say history is, "just one d . . .thing after another." It was a pleasant review of what happened. I was surprised that this performance was a DVD: the lecturer appeared to be almost immobile while he seemed to be reading fairly rapidly, although his eyes didn't move. Better heard than seen, I would say.
Date published: 2020-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Year of Change Great insights of the period. Excellent professor with insights of a changing country. ,
Date published: 2020-12-11
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America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years
Course Trailer
1990: America’s New World Order
1: 1990: America’s New World Order

The end of the Cold War was an inflection point in history. No one expected the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, but starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. Delve into the American story in the early 1990s, when conflicts in Kuwait and Bosnia tested America’s new role in a post-Soviet world.

29 min
The Clintons and the 1990s
2: The Clintons and the 1990s

Bill Clinton’s presidency dominated the domestic news in the 1990s. From his dramatic showdown with Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress’s “Contract with America” to the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s subsequent impeachment trial, this was a presidency of high drama. Survey this tumultuous decade in American history.

29 min
A New Millennium, George W. Bush, and 9/11
3: A New Millennium, George W. Bush, and 9/11

The end of the Cold War may have reshaped the world order, but 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror completely transformed America. Go back to the contested election of 2000 and trace the events leading up to the terrorist attack on American soil on September 11, 2001. Learn why 19 hijackers of three airplanes attacked America, and what happened next.

28 min
The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
4: The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Historians will long discuss and debate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As you will learn here, the war in Afghanistan had some justification, given the role of al-Qaeda in 9/11. Professor Allitt also reviews the facts surrounding the war in Iraq—the path to war, the deterioration on the ground, and the war’s effect on the United States.

29 min
The US Economy: Long Boom to Big Crash
5: The US Economy: Long Boom to Big Crash

The 1990s through the mid-2000s have been called the “great moderation,” a period of generally low inflation and stable growth. Within that period, the dot-com boom and bust created ripples, but it was the mortgage crisis that struck a seismic blow to the U.S. economy. Witness the booms and busts of this fascinating period in business.

28 min
Obama, Hope, and Polarization
6: Obama, Hope, and Polarization

In 2008, America was tired of war and entering a deep recession. President Obama was seen as a beacon of hope, yet his administration soon ran into intractable foreign and domestic challenges. Examine the major events of his presidency, from the bank bailouts and health care reform to the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS.

28 min
African American Paradoxes after 1990
7: African American Paradoxes after 1990

Despite progress from the Civil Rights movement a generation earlier, race is a dominant theme in American history through the 1990s and 2000s. Here, Professor Allitt investigates the paradoxes and racial conflicts of the last 30 years, from the Rodney King riots to the Black Lives Matter movement. He also spotlights positive developments.

27 min
Science and Technology in the Internet Age
8: Science and Technology in the Internet Age

The last 30 years of American history have been a golden age of inventions. The personal computer, social media, the smart phone, and apps have changed everything about how we operate in the world. Meanwhile, scientists of all kinds—astronomers, paleontologists, geneticists—have redefined our understanding of humans and our place in the universe.

29 min
US Energy Independence and Climate Change
9: US Energy Independence and Climate Change

Industrialization requires energy, but energy comes with a host of negative side effects, from local pollution to global climate change. Explore the shifting status of energy in the U.S. through the 1990s and 2000s, from the Kyoto Protocol to the IPCC and from “cap and trade” policy efforts to policies promoting solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.

30 min
Putting US Education to the Test after 1990
10: Putting US Education to the Test after 1990

Is America a society where no child is left behind? As this analysis of American policies toward education demonstrates, the U.S. education system leaves much to be desired, even as our universities remain among the very best in the world. From standardized tests to charter schools, take a tour of America’s school system.

30 min
A New Golden Age of American Culture
11: A New Golden Age of American Culture

From the old guard of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow to the next generation of novelists—Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, Viet Thanh Nguyen—American fiction is livelier than ever. But it isn’t just books: Television, the visual arts, architecture, and even theater (with productions like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton) are enjoying an artistic golden age.

29 min
The Trump Upset
12: The Trump Upset

History truly is full of surprises—and is still being written. In this closing lecture, you’ll survey one of the most surprising political events in recent decades: the election of President Donald Trump. From his use of social media to controversial policies and more, review the milestones of Trump’s presidency (so far).

29 min
Patrick N. Allitt

Nostalgia is the enemy of history. 'Downton Abbey' is great fun but it's not history. If seeing or reading something historical makes you feel warm and cosy, it's probably very inaccurate.


University of California, Berkeley


Emory University

About Patrick N. Allitt

Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt-an Oxford University graduate-has also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow. He was the Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching and Curriculum from 2004 to 2009, where he looked for ways to improve teaching. In this critical administrative position, he led workshops on a wide variety of teaching-related problems, visited dozens of other professors' classes, and provided one-on-one consultation to teachers to help them overcome particular pedagogical problems. Professor Allitt was honored with Emory's Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2000 was appointed to the N.E.H./Arthur Blank Professorship of Teaching in the Humanities. A widely published and award-winning author, Professor Allitt has written several books, including The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History; Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985; Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome; and Religion in America since 1945: A History. He is also author of I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom, a memoir about one semester in his life as a university professor. In addition, he is the editor of Major Problems in American Religious History. He has written numerous articles and reviews for academic and popular journals, including The New York Times Book Review.

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