The Skeptic's Guide to American History

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A different perspective I enjoyed the series and it expanded my view of U.S. history. In the final episode though when discussing other important inventions that changed life in the U.S., I thought that the television and silicon chips should have been mentioned. Both caused dramatic changes to lives and information. Overall, I would recommend this series.
Date published: 2020-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Course to Make You Think I loved this course. Not only did it touch upon important aspects in our nation's history, but it really made me think. I looked at new ways of seeing the history of our nation and its implications on our present day world.
Date published: 2020-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Enlightening Refresher on American History Throughout the lectures, I found myself recalling what I had learned and enthralled with a more in-depth learning of all the historical moments. Just plain fascinating viewing these events from different perspectives.
Date published: 2020-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and excellent content. Interesting and excellent content. Interesting and excellent content.
Date published: 2020-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Interesting Series for a non-American I am Canadian so I found this overview to be quite interesting from the standpoint of someone in a different political system, with a different history. It confirmed a lot of what I already knew about U.S. history. The professor explains things in a calm and dignified manner. He does not denigrate anyone's beliefs, but he is not a rah-rah cheerleader either. I feel a lot of his explanations resonate with what is currently occurring in U.S. politics, and it explains a lot of what is happening, especially, as I said, to an outsider.
Date published: 2020-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! Professor Stoler does an excellent job of presenting alternative views to traditional American history. He explains why the traditional view exists and gives evidence to support his theses. The graphics are helpful.
Date published: 2020-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The instructor captivated my attention from Start The back stories are well presented. I plan to start it again
Date published: 2020-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Skeptics Guide to American History This is the American History course that high school students should have available. Professor Stoler's approach covers some subjects that are rarely adequately discussed in AH classes (even advanced classes) if covered at all. Rather than a simple recitation of facts and dates the course presents issues, such as slavery and the War Between the States, in a form that invites discussion, or would if offered in an open classroom. I could see where each 30-minute lecture could be broadened into a day-long discussion with skeptical and not so skeptical dialogue. I did not necessarily agree with many of Professor Stoler's arguments but the approach and presentation was excellent. He also covered some topics which had not been of great interest to me (such as the Hoover-Roosevelt period) BUT made me think about that era more.
Date published: 2020-08-05
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The Skeptic's Guide to American History
Course Trailer
Religious Toleration in Colonial America?
1: Religious Toleration in Colonial America?

Learn the key elements of a broadened approach to the study of history with this fast-moving examination of the origins of religious and racial tolerance in America. Grasp how the assumptions you've long held can differ dramatically from historical reality....

31 min
Neither American nor Revolutionary?
2: Neither American nor Revolutionary?

Continue this new approach to understanding history with a look at efforts of the colonists to defend their "rights as Englishmen" and the ironic role played by European tyrannies in helping establish the nation that would forever change the definition of liberty....

30 min
The Constitution Did Not Create a Democracy
3: The Constitution Did Not Create a Democracy

Gain a nuanced understanding of what the Founders' "original intent" really was and how so many of the questions they grappled with divided them for their entire lives-ultimately being bequeathed to their successors and persisting even to this day....

32 min
Washington-Failures and Real Accomplishments
4: Washington-Failures and Real Accomplishments

Set aside the hagiography that helped shape George Washington's image and undertake a balanced examination that measures his military and presidential failings against his numerous successes. See how some of the least known of those successes may have been his most important contributions to American history....

28 min
Confusions about Jefferson and Hamilton
5: Confusions about Jefferson and Hamilton

Jefferson and Hamilton held sharply differing views on policy and constitutional interpretation. Learn how their conflict-often thought of in terms of our contemporary understanding of liberalism and conservatism-is actually relevant to us in very different ways from those we imagine....

29 min
Andrew Jackson-An Odd Symbol of Democracy
6: Andrew Jackson-An Odd Symbol of Democracy

Andrew Jackson's election ushered in an era marked by much democratic reform. Ironically, as you'll learn, the man who would be seen as the symbol of such reform actually opposed much of it and championed many policies that few today would call democratic....

31 min
The Second Great Awakening-Enduring Impacts
7: The Second Great Awakening-Enduring Impacts

Grasp how the links between religion and politics that today inspire such powerful positive and negative emotions are nothing new. See how issues born out of the 19th-century's evangelical upheaval-from prison reform to women's suffrage-still engage us today....

29 min
Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?
8: Did Slavery Really Cause the Civil War?

By analyzing this question and the different answers posed by generations of historians, you begin to understand "historiography"-the study of the writing of history-and take a key step in your understanding of history itself....

30 min
The Civil War's Actual Turning Points
9: The Civil War's Actual Turning Points

Discover how perceptions of Gettysburg as the Civil War's "turning point" are inaccurate. Here, examine three battles that were arguably more important and gain new insights into what determines-in any war-how meaningful a battle really was....

29 min
The Myth of Laissez-Faire
10: The Myth of Laissez-Faire

The great age of post-Civil War industrialization and the enormous levels of national and personal wealth it generated (for some) have often been attributed to a governmental attitude of "hands-off" toward business. Discover that such an attitude did not exist in the United States and that, in fact, it never had....

29 min
Misconceptions about the Original Populists
11: Misconceptions about the Original Populists

Is a reference to someone as a "populist" praise or criticism? Does it have any reference to where a person stands on the political spectrum? This lecture analyzes the nation's original populist movement and what links-if any-it has to contemporary namesakes....

31 min
Labor in America-A Strange History
12: Labor in America-A Strange History

Although often seen as a dramatic reversal of historical government support for labor, today's efforts to scale back collective bargaining rights are actually a reassertion of policy with a long precedent. Learn that the pro-union policies of the New Deal represent the real break with the past....

30 min
Myths about American Isolation and Empire
13: Myths about American Isolation and Empire

Was the United States ever as isolationist and opposed to imperialism as is commonly believed? Explore the myth and reality surrounding our historical self-image and learn how America's expansionist history might appear from the perspectives of other nations....

28 min
Early Progressives Were Not Liberals
14: Early Progressives Were Not Liberals

Many liberals see the roots of their philosophy in progressivism, but this is misleading. Learn how progressivism also included many ideas-such as eugenics, limits on free speech, and restrictions on immigration-that would have outraged modern liberals....

27 min
Woodrow Wilson and the Rating of Presidents
15: Woodrow Wilson and the Rating of Presidents

How, exactly, should past presidents be judged? A provocative examination of Woodrow Wilson's presidency-judged a great success by some and a profound failure by others-provides an opportunity to explore the broader issues of presidential ratings in general....

29 min
The Roaring Twenties Reconsidered
16: The Roaring Twenties Reconsidered

Were the 1920s really a return to isolationism and the values of the late 19th century? Uncover a decade far more complex than is generally believed, as you learn how much of the change begun during the progressive era continued-in many ways setting the stage for contemporary America....

30 min
Hoover and the Great Depression Revisited
17: Hoover and the Great Depression Revisited

Herbert Hoover came to the White House regarded as both a skilled manager and great humanitarian, yet left the presidency perceived as just the opposite. Gain an understanding of how this could happen through a detailed examination of both his forgotten accomplishments and his often misunderstood failures....

30 min
What Did Roosevelt's New Deal Really Do?
18: What Did Roosevelt's New Deal Really Do?

FDR was simultaneously one of the most beloved and most hated of U.S. presidents. Explore what the New Deal attempted and accomplished-as well as its intended and unintended consequences-as you grasp its role in creating the economic and political systems of today's America....

33 min
World War II Misconceptions and Myths
19: World War II Misconceptions and Myths

Is our understanding of "the Good War" correct? Grasp how our reliance on a national mythology makes for not only inaccurate history but a misconceived future because of the long-term effects that myths about the war have had on American policy since 1945....

30 min
Was the Cold War Inevitable?
20: Was the Cold War Inevitable?

Professor Stoler holds that the cold war was not necessarily destined to happen. In this lecture, he leads you in an analysis of why it took place and lasted so long, with examination along the way of several additional myths regarding this long and dangerous Soviet-Amer...

33 min
The Real Blunders of the Vietnam War
21: The Real Blunders of the Vietnam War

Why did America fail in Vietnam? Was it flawed military strategy? Political micromanagement? America's domestic antiwar movement? You not only learn the answer to this fundamental question, but you also gain a more nuanced understanding of why the debate has raged to this day....

31 min
Myths about American Wars
22: Myths about American Wars

Vietnam is far from America's only misunderstood war. This lecture delves into the common myths and misunderstandings shared by many Americans about why the nation's wars have been fought and how the results have been judged....

30 min
Who Matters in American History?
23: Who Matters in American History?

Who in history do we choose to remember, and why? Take in the extraordinary accomplishments of several Americans-including John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and George C. Marshall-whose achievements and influence may well have exceeded those of many of the great figures more vividly remembered....

30 min
History Did Not Begin with Us
24: History Did Not Begin with Us

Conclude the course with an appreciation that history did not begin with the events of our own lifetime. Explore the antecedents of the civil rights, antiwar, and women's rights movements and the tendency to pronounce any era's major technological advances as the most important in history....

36 min
Mark A. Stoler

History is an interpretive discipline in which we try to understand not only the past, but also the present by looking into the past.


University of Wisconsin


The University of Vermont

About Mark A. Stoler

Dr. Mark Stoler, who holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin, is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont. An expert in U.S. foreign relations and military history, as well as the origins of the cold war, Professor Stoler has also held teaching positions at the United States Military Academy, the Army Military History Institute, the Naval War College, and-as a Fulbright Professor-the University of Haifa, Israel. He is the recipient of the University of Vermont's Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award, the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award, and the University Scholar Award, as well as the Dean's Lecture Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Teaching, awarded by the university's College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Stoler also has been honored as an author when his Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II received the Society for Military History's Distinguished Book Award for 2002. The book is one of several he has written or cowritten, including Allies in War: Britain and America Against the Axis Powers, 1940-1945; Debating Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policies, 1933-1945; Major Problems in the History of World War II; George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century; and The Politics of the Second Front: American Military Planning and Diplomacy in Coalition Warfare, 1941-1943.

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