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Publisher's Summary

How did a land and people of such immense diversity come together under a banner of freedom and equality to form one of the most remarkable nations in the world? Everyone from young adults to grandparents will be fascinated by the answers uncovered in James West Davidson's vividly told A Little History of the United States.

Davidson guides listeners through 500 years, from the first contact between the two halves of the world to the rise of America as a superpower in an era of atomic perils and diminishing resources.

In short, vivid chapters the audiobook brings to life hundreds of individuals whose tales are part of the larger American story. Pilgrim William Bradford stumbles into an Indian deer trap on his first day in America; Harriet Tubman lets loose a pair of chickens to divert attention from her escaping slaves; the toddler Andrew Carnegie, later an ambitious industrial magnate, gobbles his oatmeal with a spoon in each hand. Such stories are riveting in themselves, but they also spark larger questions to ponder about freedom, equality, and unity in the context of a nation that is and always has been remarkably divided and diverse.

©2015 James West Davidson (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about A Little History of the United States

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    4 out of 5 stars

Brief but informative

Davidson's little history - part of a series apparently inspired by Gombrich's little history of the world - captures the essence of some of the critical issues of American history. He focuses on freedom and equality and how those concepts played out through the Revolution, the conflicts over slavery, the robber barons of the industrial revolution, the many crises of the twentieth century.

The narrative is mostly political and social, at the expense of military history: the battles of America's many wars race by at triple speed. The politics are described concisely and the coverage is broad, although I felt a gap in his discussion of the early Republic. The Constitution was like a musical score: the actual working government, and the implementation of checks and balances, had to be assembled almost on the fly. Davidson doesn't linger over the details of this process as much as I wish he had.

Arthur Morey has a great voice for this kind of straightforward historical narrative. He manages to sound objective without sounding passionless. It's a brisk and informative introduction / review.

14 people found this helpful

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Outstanding and Enthralling Book

I’ve studied USA history many times in my lifetime, and yet, I’ve either forgotten or never been exposed to several facts and stories in this phenomenal book. It is written so well, and the story is so amazing, that it’s a real page-turner—the best kind of “reality” reading as opposed to much frivolous and worthless “reality TV.” I highly recommend this! It exposes the good and the bad about US History, and you won’t want to put it down nor stop listening.

4 people found this helpful

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It’s accurately titled “little history”

I bought this book, sadly, by the recommendation of another teacher I happened to meet at an history AP conference. This was one of the worst narratives on US history I’ve ever read. Honestly, textbooks are slightly better. The author glosses over, often inaccurately, difficult human rights moments in American history. There are so many errors with basic skills like cause and effect during the chapter on the civil rights era and others. Ww2 and the Cold War were awful. I almost wanted to stop listening after that chapter. Every time this author could offer some social justice history he failed miserably. Rosa Parks didn’t start the Civil Rights movement she was not just a seamstress but was a secretary for the NAACP. Brown v Board provided a legal bias to challenge Jim Crow segregation. JFK did not come up with the idea for voter registration as is alluded. Simply stuff to include even in a simple history book. It’s hard to be considered a credible historian without an honest, objective perspective on American history. Editorializing and choice words of bias by the author. Save your time and money, awful work here. I would donate this book but disagree with it’s contents too strongly to spread.

13 people found this helpful

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amazing

my favorite thing about this book is that the author is not giving you good opinion, he is just stating the facts and letting you decide what you think is better.

the narrator is really good and steady, he doesn't mumble, speed up or laugh.


overall it is a very good book.

1 person found this helpful

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Really good entry in the series

I love these “Little History” books. I’ve read almost all of them and this is probably the third best. The Philosophy and World History ones are still the best. But this is a great, sweeping look at US History. I am a history major and a teacher and this is a great, balanced look that does as good of a job on the limited time as could be expected. Narrator was solid.

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Great book

This is just an amazing book when you actually read it. Its gives you a good gist about the world and history on it.

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More Progressive in viewpoint

For a short history, its striking how much time is given to individuals like Rachel Carson, and it ends with comparing nuclear war to global warming.

4 people found this helpful

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anticapitalist

Not bad until the end where they attempt to push a demand side evonomic falsehood

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Good story, great narrator.

Story was well written and educational. It is exactly what it says it is, a little bit of history. Would love to read more from this author. Great narrator, good voice. He definitely makes the story come to life for you. Overall, I definitely recommend this listen.

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not worth the time

misinformation from the beginning, Christopher Columbus did not arrive first in North America, he arrived in the Caribean and so many useless details.

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  • A. Coombs
  • 01-11-21

quick canter through American history

does as is expected, puts major events into context. slightly annoying how every figures nickname is mentioned, the author is obsessed with it. a good spring board to then dip into another part of American history if desired.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Fiona
  • 11-19-21

Easy to listen to and the right depth for someone outside the USA

I found that the book held my attention all the way through covering everything that a non US national might want to know. There were well thought out surprises on the way and at the end I felt that I’d be happy to listen to it again rather than look at specific topics in more detail.

The only negative, I thought, was a rather nebulous conclusion that contrasted with the factual approach of the rest of the book.

Definitely recommend.

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  • Dr C
  • 08-12-21

A great, almost poetic, overview of US history.

JWD does much more than list historical events and comment on them. He has a broader perspective, and is able to draw parallels with other historical events, elsewhere in the world and throughout the US.
The less well known events & presidents are not given much time. But a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Highly recommend.