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The creation of the executive branch of government was one of the most audacious decisions in American history. The story of our greatest presidents create a narrative as compelling as an historical novel, and these 48 compelling lectures look at the lives, the achievements, and the legacies of those generally considered our 12 greatest presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Ronald Reagan.
Drawing on a wealth of revealing anecdotes and inside stories, Professor Lichtman sheds new light on how the individual characters and historic decisions of each president made a major contribution to shaping our developing nation. You'll study the critical role these men played in America's founding years, Westward expansion, the struggle over slavery and the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, the perils of the atomic age, and more. These 12 leaders can be seen as giants of the most powerful elective office in the world. But through Professor Lichtman's eyes we see them as they really were, contradictions and paradoxes included.
These lectures give the "inside stories" from our highest office, and they reveal 12 leaders with varying styles, personalities, and beliefs, but they all had in common an unsinkable ambition, a deep affinity with the American people, and a strong inner core of guiding values and principles.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
I hate to diss someone else's hard work, but out of concern for other Audible shoppers, I have to say: this guy's delivery is beyond irritating. He has adopted the most random, choppy and hard-to-listen-to rhythms I've ever experienced in an audiobook. He clearly has enthusiasm for the subject matter, and believes that by inserting dramatic pauses at certain points he is increasing the sense of wonder and amazement at what he is revealing about notable presidents. But it doesn't work. It just irritates -- me, at least.
As for the subject matter, it's pretty good. It's what you'd expect out of a history course at a good private high school. No problem there, but...well, see above. I thought I'd get used to it after a while, but I'm on chapter six and that hasn't happened yet.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Allan J. Lichtman?
Overall: A really good source of information for the lives of 12 Presidents (not just their time in office but the Professor also covered their childhoods, accomplishments prior to being elected, and the remainder of their lives post-Presidency); The selection also allows for a lot of interesting history to be covered throughout the various eras of the country’s history; However, the criteria for “great” wasn’t clearly defined leaving me somewhat perplexed as to why some Presidents (Jackson, Polk, Truman, and Johnson) were selected as “great” and at times I felt like the professor struggled with tying a slew of historical facts into a unifying story or common theme of the President’s greatness
• Good listening included:
o Examples of how these Presidents expanded the power of the presidency beyond what the founding fathers intended and at times the challenges they encountered by the checks and balances system of the U.S. government (such as the Supreme Court)
o The narrative of the U.S.-Mexican War under Polk
o Origins of the various political parties in U.S. history (Federalists, the Democratic Republicans, the Whigs, Democrats, and Republicans)
o The Lyndon B. Johnson lectures
• A really good source of information for the Presidents’ entire life since the lectures didn’t focus just on their time in office but the Professor also covered their childhoods, accomplishments prior to being elected, and the remainder of their lives post-Presidency
• The professor brought a lot of passion to the lectures; It is apparent how much he admires these Presidents
• No clear consistent criteria for defining what makes a President “great”; I understand such a designation is subjective but for argument consistency sake it would’ve been good if the Professor had a set of criteria and rated each President against them (this isn’t to say all great Presidents should have the same specific characteristic since there are different ways to be considered “great”; Indeed I’d imagine if there was a set of say 5 criterion, some of the Presidents would ace some but fail others but at least there would be a more defined way to differentiate Great presidents and other Presidents); For example Polk was included apparently for being one of the few Presidents who was able to achieve everything on his policy agenda (without regard as to whether they were the right policies) and for expanding the territory under US control (even though it was accomplished under rather dubious means); Perhaps “Most Impactful Presidents” or “Presidents of Great Significance” or “Most Studied” would’ve been better titles
• Some of the lectures felt more like a narrative of history of what occurred during the President’s term vs. an attempt to tie it all together in a unifying story to illustrate a common theme about what made that President great
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Overall, very in depth information on the presidents stated in this course. I disagree that Reagan is a "great president", but I understand the argument. If anything, his particular section gave me more evidence to support my biased of his presidency. Lol Dr. Lichtman is a great narrator. He kept me engaged and entertained.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Great course on The Great Presidents. Great in the case of these men is based on what they accomplished. Of course great depends on your politics, view of economics, world affairs, etc. For example many of these Presidents were way too progressive and made government way to large for my liking. What made them great however often was their soaring rhetoric and their ability to achieve their goals.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This has a lot of information about the 12 "great" presidents:
James K. Polk
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
John F. Kennedy
There is a VERY detailed PDF file with a complete outline of the lectures included with this audio book. It was really too detailed to be worth reading before the audio book, but was mildly useful for review or searching after listening to the audio.
This was a bit dry and it is not an unbiased history of the presidents. It does not fairly portray the reality of the presidents' various relationship to slavery and avoids the negatives of the great presidents. For example, for Jefferson clearly the main lecture ends in a cut to avoid the applause, then a brief description and justification of Jefferson's treatment of slaves is spliced in. This was quite different from how Jefferson is covered in fairly balanced biographies. Jefferson is not the only case of presidential white-washing.
This is clearly part of a wider series on the presidency as several sections refer to material "already covered" that does not actually appear in these lectures covering only the "Great" presidents.
There is a little bit of synthesis after all the presidential lectures discussing what makes a president great, and the characteristics that many of the great presidents shared.
This was not bad, but I would not recommend this book. I preferred the American Heritage History of the Presidents which was also not great, but I enjoyed more than I did this volume.
The narration is completely clear and is fine, but is a little exuberant for my taste.
Ive listened to over 20 courses. This for me was top 5. 3 lecture per president was legit. And the professor kept me engaged the whole way through.
After listening to History of the Supreme Court (another of The Great Courses' audiobooks), I knew they provided quality, in-depth, and entertaining books. I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to anybody wanting to know a little bit more about great presidents in our history.
Each mini-biography provides not only wonderful stories rich with imagery and details, but that also have key facts that help the listener truly learn about the figures being discussed and how they became to be who they are.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
enjoyed it very much. the only issue I had is that I could tell when the instructor liked a president and when he really didn't. when he was not as into it. I was not ether. I drifted a little on a couple lectures as a result. but all and all pretty great indeed.
Lichtman's lectures are informative and entertaining. Sprinkled with memorable quotes and anecdotes, yet cogently covering the policy issues and presidents' responses to political events. Recommended.
one of the best of thd Great Lecture series. The Prof brings it alive and weaves and deconstructs the events and individuals, warts and all.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful