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Publisher's Summary

Go on an in-depth, 24-lecture exploration of important (and often overlooked) questions about the tumultuous political history of the Americas. Professor Eakin explains the cultural, economic, and political pressures each of these new American nations faced in achieving independence. In addition, he examines exactly why each revolution progressed, and succeeded or failed, as it did. Beginning with the revolution in our own 13 colonies, these lectures examine the uprisings and invasions that created the independent nation of Haiti in 1804; the wars for independence in Spanish South America; the bloody uprisings that led to Mexican independence; and the relatively bloodless revolt in Brazil. You'll also consider "counterexamples" of nations that failed to become independent or followed unusual patterns, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the British West Indies. You'll also meet the "other" founding fathers of the Americas, including Toussaint L'Ouverture, José de San Martín, Bernardo O'Higgins, and Agustín de Iturbide. Throughout these lectures, Professor Eakin brings his perspective down to ground level, spanning oceans and mountain ranges to translate those forces into dramatic events, including: a riveting portrait of life among the slaves of what was then known as Saint Domingue (later Haiti); a brilliant description of the chaotic evacuation of the Portuguese royal family as they fled to Brazil only an hour ahead of Napoleon's troops; and the bold exploits of Simón Bolívar, including his remarkable and dramatic march from the tropics of eastern Venezuela through the 13,000-foot passes of the Andes to defeat the Spanish at Boyacá and liberate Colombia.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

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Profile Image for Tommy D'Angelo
  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 25-09-2020

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.

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Profile Image for Maria Mercedes Martinez
  • Maria Mercedes Martinez
  • 21-04-2018

Very interesting

Very easy to understand, because the professor talked slowly and explained every thing. I am from Colombia, and our history of independence was not explained In detail, but the same is true for all the other countries , if you want details I guess you have to read the history of each country. I learned many I interesting things about our America with capital A !

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  • Herbert Ottenbreit
  • 22-09-2017

A very informative journey - Fantastic!!!

Loved every chapter. Wonderful narrator!!!! Very knowledgeable. A fantastic journey of the Americas. Great work!!!

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  • Tim
  • 25-10-2013

Poor audio quality

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend.
Well, it's not really the "audio quality" as much as the production value. To explain, after each sentence there is a 1-3 sec pause, all background noises and static cease and the "dead air" interrupts adding a level discontinuity to lecture. My assumption is that a noise gate was used on the mic or the production engineer used an automated noise reduction that doesn't work well with spoken word. That said, this is more of an issue with headphones - you might not notice if listening on a poor quality player.

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  • Glacierjay
  • 10-10-2018

great series of lectures

I've actually listened to this series twice too catch up on history of the revolutions as i make trips to Latin America. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in how the countries on the American continents got their start.

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  • Mark Palmer
  • 23-11-2016

Excellent summary.

Any additional comments?

It is very difficult in one course to explain the foundations of all of the independent countries in the Americas. However, Professor Eakin does an excellent job. The best aspect of this course is his ability to tie together the various histories of the diverse countries in the Americas. He provides a great overall view of the relations between the countries in the Americas along with the intertwined histories of Europe at these critical times.

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  • Michael
  • 27-04-2016

Solid

Good and solid survey of the history of American revolutions. The lecturer was a little boring.

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  • Manish
  • 01-10-2019

Modern South America

Knew next to nothing about the revolutions and formation of the countries of South America. This went a long way to curing that. Although probably my lack of basic knowledge I did find myself using Wikipedia a bit.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-09-2018

Excellent series

Very good overview
Narrator's seconds-long pauses between words sometimes a bit annoying though
Overall very good, loved the inclusion of the oft-forgotten continent of South America rather than just focusing on USA as many series about 'American history' do

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  • Eliel Cohen
  • 23-04-2016

exciting

Excellent history and well delivered. it has made me want to read more especially some of the historical novels and biographies referred to. also made me see European history in a different light.

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