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The Americas in the Revolutionary Era

Examine revolutionary movements and their leaders in the American colonies and in those that became the nations of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, and Mexico, among others.
Americas in the Revolutionary Era is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 42.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Average I purchased this with high expectations, however, it is difficult to keep your interest when the professor is clearly reading from text. The subject matter is informative, but dull
Date published: 2024-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great So much information and perspective I have never been exposed to.
Date published: 2021-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A little anti-Western Civ, but not overwhelming. The overall scope and reach of Dr. Eakin's lectures was impressive, covering the Latin American Revolutions as an entire capsule. It was well researched and Dr. Eakin held your interest, although he gets a point off for a tendency to be anti-West. He was balanced about the reason for the 90% loss of the American Indians, however.
Date published: 2021-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply superb - riveting An excellent course in every way. The course introduction, in particular, was one of the best I've ever encountered among Great Courses. The professor explained the background of his approach, took us through the course contents with a big-picture overview and got the listener excited to learn. I appreciated his earnestness, as if the events he was narrating and analyzing really mattered. (As of course they do, since they shaped the Americas we have today.) I also liked his course conclusion, where he recapped some main themes and asked and answered questions about patterns (and non-patterns) in the events. Some highlights of the course for me were: * The three factors that created preconditions for revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries: the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution * Why revolutions were not inevitable, although they did happen * The influence of geography and trading restrictions on economic development * The contrast between the British tradition of parliamentary rule and the more absolutist monarchy in Spain and Portugal, and how that influenced events * Why the American and French revolutions had an impact on some regions and not others * Haiti serving as a warning to any colonies with a substantial slave population * Reasons for the differential racial makeup of different regions, and the outsized impact of that * Why the American South resembled South American colonies more than it did the American North * Paraguay as an outlier and reasons why it may not deserve the scorn many historians give it * Differing assessments by historians of which independence movements truly were revolutionary The only negative I felt about the lectures was the professor's strange verb tenses (present and future rather than past), which I found distracting all the way through the end of the course. But that was minor. Too bad this professor only made one other course for the company (which I already took, and it's excellent also), and it's way too bad that the company has no courses on contemporary Latin America or on Latin American culture.
Date published: 2020-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Neglected Topic but Lacking Good Storytelling I applaud TGC for offering this course and for Professor Eakin taking it on because it is a neglected one . Rarely do we see any content on Central and South America in the TGC catalog or elsewhere in academia. Professor Eakin's scope is spot on covering all of the major revolutions and the formation of over 20 countries. The revolutions of approximately 20 countries covering North, Central, and South America from the 1770s to the 1820s is covered. By my count here is the list: o United States o Haiti o Colombia o Ecuador o Venezuela o Argentina o Uruguay o Chile o Peru o Bolivia o Mexico o Guatemala o Nicaragua o Costa Rico o Honduras o El Salvador o Portugal o Cuba o Puerto Rico o Dominican Republic o Canada o Paraguay What this course lacks is pizazz. The professor's narration doesn't fully engage, does not put you in the historical moments themselves (like a great instructor can like Professor Desan in "Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon"), nor build up any kind of drama or storytelling. The exceptions would be lectures 10 (Napoleon’s attack on Portugal and Spain and its impact on their colonies in South America), 19 (Brazil), and 20 (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic). The rest were devoid of any kind of real storytelling. Battles are rarely described in any kind of detail, very little time is dedicated on the opposing forces except to call them “the Spanish armies” (who were some of the generals? Their strategic and tactical aims?), and the motivations/thoughts/words of the revolutionary heroes aren’t discussed much except that they wanted power. Another indication he isn't a good storyteller: the professor opens up most lectures by providing a summary of the major events he will be covering in that lecture. Talking about taking all of the suspense away in the first few minutes! Why not let the story play itself out while recounting the events? I know these are educational courses but TGC also bills them as "entertaining journeys"..... Unfortunately, the negatives don't end there. The pitch of the professor’s voice changes multiple times in the same sentence resulting in certain words coming through the audio way too strong while other words were too soft or trailed off. It wasn’t too long before the sharpness grated on me. Additionally, following some of the revolutions (such as the Haitian, Mexican, and Paraguayan revolutions) was very difficult: too many different sides with different goals, key leaders switching sides, and multiple foreign powers involved with ambiguous aims. Not a good job by Professor Eakin to clarify the madness and allow us to keep score. At times I wasn't sure what side he was even describing. Like his course "Conquest of the Americas", professor Eakin uses numerous lectures to serve as the course's conclusion depriving us of more historical narrative on the specific revolutions. While this time he only used two, he easily could've fit his conclusions in one lecture. Despite all of this I would still recommend this course. Primarily for two reasons: where else can you get info on these countries? And secondly: despite all the grief I gave him I actually like Professor Eakin. His organization is admirable and he does cover all the right things (he gets the scope right). A lot of professors lack these two talents!! He also gets you to think of the United States revolution in different terms: as a part of a larger story/theme playing itself out throughout all of the Americas. This story is not taught in traditional text books (at least when I was in school). It is thought provoking to look at the American Revolution as but one event in a fifty year period of revolution and upheaval in the western hemisphere. I also liked his analysis on why Latin America did not develop into a world power like the United States. While I prefer his other course ("Conquest of the Americas") more I am happy to have this one in my library as well. It may not keep me on the edge of my seat but it does fill a missing gap.
Date published: 2020-09-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Subject Matter that Needs More Courses The Great Courses offers a few courses on Latin America, most either pre-colonial civilizations or about the meeting of the colonizers with the indigenous tribes. If your looking for something post 1550's, this is your one choice (!!). I would love a course on the history of Mexico, or just one on the Mexican Revolution. Or even a course on the Latin American nations since World War II as they seek to develop either a democratic style government or rule with a military government. About this course- Professor Eakin is very well prepared and presents with a clear voice that is easy to understand and hear. He does speak a bit monotone, which makes him easy to tune out at times. He is very knowledgeable about his subject matter and tells some cracking good stories about these liberators. I did not know much about Francisco Miranda, for example, and was intrigued about the compelling life that he lived. That is one of the many people you will have a chance to learn about as Professor Eakin shows how the many countries in the region gained their independence, or in a few cases, did not gain independence. I did not enjoy the lectures early in the series about the independence of the United States. I get that Professor Eakin was showing how the movement for independence was a region wide event, spreading from the United States to other parts of the Americas, but the material he covered in these lectures was so well known and obvious, I had to drag myself through it. Once he got past talking about the U.S. independence movement, the course really picked up, as he showed how the spirit of independence could not be contained to the Yankees in the north. It's nice to have a chance to learn about these Latin American countries and see the process through which the gained their independence as well.
Date published: 2020-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Course I am surprised at how much I learned in this course. I was also surprised at how interesting the lives of some historical figures were, so much so that I am now reading a biography. Had they been European or American, everybody in the world would know about them. Professor Eakin is knowledgeable, focuses on what matters. His presentation skills are first rate.
Date published: 2020-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a fabulous course This is an amazing course that covers a ton of material in a way that manages to address both the common themes and the particularities of the various nations profiled. Like many Americans, I have very little sense of the history that has occurred south of the Rio Grande. This course has gone a very long way toward remedying that. And some of the characters profiled are absolutely fascinating. I kind of can't believe that they aren't better known.
Date published: 2018-10-19
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The revolution that created the U.S. was one of many "American revolutions." From 1776 to 1825


Marshall C. Eakin

I see myself as a cultural intermediary, helping the diverse peoples of the Americas understand each other across geography and time.


Vanderbilt University

Dr. Marshall C. Eakin is Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, where he has taught since 1983. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Costa Rica and at the University of Kansas, where he also earned his master's degree. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA.  Before taking his position at Vanderbilt, he taught at Loyola Marymount University.  He has won many teaching awards at Vanderbilt, including the Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and a chair of teaching excellence awarded by the University's Board of Trust. In 1999, he was named the Carnegie Foundation/CASE Tennessee Professor of the Year.  Dr. Eakin has published many articles in scholarly journals and popular publications, and is the author of four books, including Brazil: The Once and Future Country and Tropical Capitalism: The Industrialization of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In 2003, the government of Brazil inducted Dr. Eakin into the prestigious Order of Rio Branco for his contributions to Brazil's relationship with the United States.

By This Professor

Revolutions and Wars for Independence

01: Revolutions and Wars for Independence

This lecture outlines the plan and logic of the course and puts forth its major themes, along with an explanation of the critical difference between the concepts of revolution and wars for independence.

34 min
Origins of Revolution in the Atlantic World

02: Origins of Revolution in the Atlantic World

Important transformations have shaped the Atlantic world by the middle of the 18th century, including the Enlightenment, the revolution in commerce and trade, and the Industrial Revolution.

31 min
Colonial Empires on the Eve of Revolution

03: Colonial Empires on the Eve of Revolution

Professor Eakin surveys the dimensions and key characteristics of the large empires that Spain, Portugal, France, and England had established in the Americas by the middle of the 18th century.

31 min

04: The "North" American Revolution Emerges

After surveying the origins of the Thirteen Colonies, as well as their similarities and differences, Dr. Eakin traces the emergence of the colonies' unity and their movement toward independence.

30 min
From Lexington and Concord to Yorktown

05: From Lexington and Concord to Yorktown

Here we find a chronicle of the course of the fighting during our own U.S. revolution, from the action at Lexington and Concord to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

30 min
The Radicalism of the American Revolution

06: The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Here we consider a debate that still rages after more than 200 years: Was the American Revolution really a radical break with a monarchial past, or did it represent a conservative effort by planters to seize power and control the development of an already divided society?

30 min
Slave Rebellion in St. Domingue

07: Slave Rebellion in St. Domingue

This is the first half of a two-part examination of the only successful slave rebellion in the Americas, including the impact of the American and French Revolutions, the two most important influences on Latin American revolutionaries after 1789.

30 min
The Haitian Revolution

08: The Haitian Revolution

Over more than a decade, Haiti's rebellious slaves, along with some free blacks, manage to defeat invading armies from France, England, and Spain, with implications that will continue to resonate throughout the Americas.

30 min
Seeds of Rebellion in Spanish America

09: Seeds of Rebellion in Spanish America

By 1750, the Spanish Empire in the Americas has been in place for two-and-a-half centuries and is straining to survive. This lecture begins an examination of the wars for independence faced by Spain.

30 min
Napoleon Invades Spain and Portugal

10: Napoleon Invades Spain and Portugal

Although modernization and reform have set the stage for the wars for independence, it is the Napoleonic Wars—especially Napoleon's invasion of Spain when he sparked rebellion by removing King Fernando VII from power in 1808—that trigger Spanish America's wars for independence.

30 min
Francisco de Miranda—The Precursor

11: Francisco de Miranda—The Precursor

This lecture introduces the most glamorous and dashing figure in the wars for independence, whose life and work foreshadow the generation of leaders who will lead those wars and who mentors the most famous of those liberators.

30 min
Simón Bolívar—The Liberator

12: Simón Bolívar—The Liberator

Professor Eakin looks closely at the life of the most famous of Latin America's revolutionary figures, comparing and contrasting him as the "George Washington" of a half-dozen South American nations.

30 min
Liberating Northern South America

13: Liberating Northern South America

Bolivar overcomes a disastrous early failure and exile in the Caribbean to liberate Venezuela and the rest of northern South America in a bloody struggle that will consume more than a decade.

31 min
San Martín and Argentine Independence

14: San Martín and Argentine Independence

The struggle for independence in Argentina and Uruguay revolves around the figure of José de San Mart'n, the southern South American counterpart of Bolivar.

30 min
Bernardo O’Higgins and Chile

15: Bernardo O’Higgins and Chile

The illegitimate son of the Irish-born former viceroy of Peru, who struggled to win the recognition denied him by his father, Bernardo O'Higgins emerges as the great military hero of Chilean independence.

30 min
Liberating Peru

16: Liberating Peru

The liberation of Peru, the great Spanish stronghold in South America, is accomplished from two directions, with Bolivar leading the attack from the north and San Martin from the south.

30 min
Mexico—Race and Class Warfare

17: Mexico—Race and Class Warfare

Professor Eakin looks at the first of two stages in the war for Mexican independence—the race and class war that begins in 1810 and which is the ultimate nightmare of the Latin American elites.

31 min
Mexico—Empire and Chaos

18: Mexico—Empire and Chaos

In the aftermath of social revolution and racial war, Spaniards and Creoles close ranks to preserve peace, but events in Europe spark a second war for independence.

30 min
Brazil—A Royal Revolution?

19: Brazil—A Royal Revolution?

The path to independence taken by Brazil, despite being similar in many ways, differs from that taking place in Spanish America in crucial respects.

30 min
Failed Movements in the Caribbean

20: Failed Movements in the Caribbean

Some American colonies, despite the successful wars for independence taking place around them, do not achieve independence in this era. This lecture looks at Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the troubled case of the Dominican Republic.

31 min
The British West Indies and Canada

21: The British West Indies and Canada

Professor Eakin looks closely at the British West Indies and Canada, two more counterpoints to the successful wars of revolution and independence swirling around them.

31 min
The Strange Case of Paraguay

22: The Strange Case of Paraguay

Perhaps the most unusual country in Latin America in the 19th century, Paraguay was led by the authoritarian José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, who forced it to turn inward in isolation.

30 min
Revolutions Made and Unmade

23: Revolutions Made and Unmade

Professor Eakin returns to the "big picture" of the age of revolutions, examining the processes at work and comparing the revolutions of the Americas.

30 min
The Aftermath of Independence

24: The Aftermath of Independence

The course concludes with a wide-angle look at the Americas in the aftermath of the wars for independence, and reflect on the legacies left by these wars for the many peoples of the Americas.

30 min