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Publisher's Summary

"At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!"
--Woodrow Wilson 

The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arabella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire. They trace the American empire through the bloody U.S. suppression of the Filipino struggle for independence; the establishment of U.S. financial hegemony via World War I; the repeated U.S. interventions, covert operations, and wars in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East; the transformation of America into a prying national security state; the accumulation of vast fortunes by the wealthiest Americans; and troubling assaults on U.S. constitutional liberties. 

Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented "people's history" of the American empire that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration had such a difficult time cleaving a new path. 

Stone and Kuznick will introduce listeners to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track. The authors reveal that: 

  • The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible. 
  • The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War. 
  • The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty. 
  • U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the United States and its allies. 
  • U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the Constitution and international law. 
  • The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war. 

American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the 21st century. Their conclusions will astonish even experts, but there is one question only listeners can answer: Is it too late for America to change?

©2013 Oliver Stone & Peter Kuznick (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Untold History of the United States

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting book but felt biased...

This is a tough review to write. I decided to listen to the book as I enjoyed the TV Version of it and felt that was very well presented. I read a lot of history and have learned over the years that when it comes to the history of the world you have to take the good with the bad. This book is VERY well researched and has a lot of good information. My only problem with it is how it posts everything about the US as evil and every other country in the world as saints with no agendas of their own. The narrator does a great job and is very good throughout the book.

25 people found this helpful

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This is a lot to digest

I've always known there was corruption
At all levels of politics but if even half this book is true, there are a number of countries that seem pretty well justified in their contempt for us.
Based on what I know of Oliver Stone, I wouldn't consider him an unbiased source so be aware of the source as you are reading this information. Also I saw some reviews by other historians that blast this book for its gross exaggerations and fabrications. I don't know their motivations though either?
This book does validate the feeling I've always had that politicians have a hand up their butt and we can't see whose in control. This book overall made me very sad and concerned for the world that will be left behind for my children. For the sake of us all, I hope we can turn this around.

13 people found this helpful

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The audible Untold History experience

Having seen the series when first released, and loving it, why would I need to hear the book version read, visual free? Because it is a different experience, in so many ways. The impact, intellectual as well as emotional, absent the riveting filmclips of the documentary, is internalized and digested through alternate circuitry. Tuning in to the Audible version primarily as a reminder of the documentary, as the untold story is told, and facts, figures, concepts, horrors and missed opportunities mount up, I was surprised at the power of that full impact. I lived with the audiobook for a couple of weeks, seeing internally and feeling fascination, disappointment, even amazement. But mostly, it was the cumulative revelation of the patterns of this history. Powerful, and different. I bought the book to revisit specific chapters and details. I will now revisit the film version. Triple play. All powerful, and all similar but separate experiences.
So, for this separate audible history, I thank you.
And Mr. Berkrot did a particularly fine job of telling it.

6 people found this helpful

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So much I didn't know!

I really liked that this book critiqued everyone equally, including Obama, Clinton and even JFK. it didn't dive into conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination, the moon landing, 9/11, Hitler or anything else. most of the information presented was from documents people can view for themselves. And it did a great job showing how the US foreign policy of being an emperialistic power has hurt us in the past, is still hurting us, and looks like it will continue this way and that all presidents have given into the power of corporations and their CEOs and furthered their interests, rather than that of the general population.

6 people found this helpful

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5 star, but what a discouraging history it is.

What did you love best about The Untold History of the United States?

This is a very well researched and written book. There is much more history left untaught -- or distorted -- than we hear in school. Our untold history is fascinating.

What did you like best about this story?

Best are new facts about some excellent and successful efforts by humane and community-minded government officials, individuals and organizations to develop programs beneficial to the well-being of individuals, business and the country.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Until today, listening for a few hours straight while driving in the countryside, I completely enjoyed hearing this "new" history. Then I realized I was also hearing about loud and brutal intolerance, violent efforts to crush individual workers and unions, corporate efforts to finance a military coup, wars, depressions and ever-growing economic class separation, ongoing for generations. Many gained obscene amounts of wealth while most struggled, and many died, of the business, banking, military, business and corporate manipulations, The juxtaposition of the few ultra-oober-rich to the many "ordinary" made me angry because it is so familiar. There have been repeated cycles of extremes, sadly no different now than then, quickly or slowly crushing any hopes of all but the wealthiest among us. This crushing of hope has been perpetrated by the same reasoning, the same greed, the same plans and the same disregard, by the same long-lived organizations using and used by the same greedy types of individuals for at least three generations behind us, and destined to continue for the generations born after us.

Any additional comments?

The facts uncovered in the research of this book are extraordinary. They are also quite discouraging. I don't mind if what I learn touches a little righteous anger, and raises my consciousness and willingness to stand up for what I know is right. I hate it when people are deliberately unaware, "I don't want to know," I do want to know, but I don't know if I can continue this book. The obviously recurrent brutal treatment of our citizens -- and the citizens of other countries -- is too disheartening. Usually knowledge is power. This knowledge makes me feel powerless.

26 people found this helpful

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It was ok , not great

Only buy if on sale. Was just ok nothing special at all. Narrator was really good though.

2 people found this helpful

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Bias as all get out...

An interesting book with some cool info and interesting points but I would have very much preferred it had it been played out in a less blatantly bias fashion. :( I felt that the blatant bias took away from the story because it makes you wonder at the presentation of facts and how much is straight up cherry-picked to make things look a certain way.

2 people found this helpful

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Bias bleeds put at times. New perspective

The book attempts to bring a new non-bias perspective for American history since the early 1900s. Unfortunately an the left-leaning bias is apparent at times and the views are often sympathetic to those outside the United States. However, this book delivers on presenting the untold portions of American history. I recommend this book to anyone who wants their viewpoint challenged.

2 people found this helpful

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Not shocked

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not really

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I don't recommend changing history. Maybe recognition that there are at least two sides to most issues

Could you see The Untold History of the United States being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I think it was a series.

Any additional comments?

The build up was that I would be shocked. Though there were a few facts here or there I was not aware of, there was VERY little here I did not know. It is not shocking to me that politicians do things for their own personal benefit or philosophical reasons that they do not tell the electorate, nor that they do things that are highly unethical. Interestingly all that is true for ALL political parties, leaders and Presidents historically. It has been demonstrably true all the way back to the Roman Republic and probably true back to the Sumerians.

You would have to be remarkably naive to find this information shocking.

2 people found this helpful

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US History as it should be taught in school.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! It's a well sourced and documented account of the dark side of America's history that everyone should know about.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Henry Wallace because in a time of rampant militarism and increasing worldwide violence, he still stood strong for the common man and the hope that the world could achieve peace.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are too many to list, but if I had to pick one, it would be the scene leading up to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The true horror of what our leaders did to an already beaten people is shocking and should serve as a stark reminder of just how cruel politics and the war industry really are.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Henry Wallace's speech about taking America into the "Age of the Common Man". His words then are more relevant now than ever. Our country, as well as the world, has been a constant struggle by those few, the ruling class, against the rest of us, the working and middle class and while we far outnumber the rulers, we are still swayed by propaganda and cheap advertising.

Any additional comments?

If you want a more complete understanding of not only current events but of American History overall, this is a definite 'must-read.' For too long we have been raised and educated in a society that only tells us one side of the coin, thus sabotaging our critical thinking skills and leading us to make decisions based on half truths and outright lies. If you care anything about the democratic process you have to be willing to question the official account, you have to look askance at the popular myths and you certainly have to reevaluate your heroes. Despite the best efforts of the ruling elite, militarists, Wall St., etc. to paint the world in a black or white, us vs them, portrait, the world is in fact a vibrant palette of beauty and horror. Good people do bad things, bad people do... uh... bad things and then there are those who I would call fundamentalists. The 'Anti" crowd. They view every kind of move toward progress or peace as evil communist/terrorist plots and they justify sabotaging or outright destroying any such movement. These people are in positions of power and they exercise their will with often lethal intent to force the world to conform to their distorted world view. These people are a greater threat to the world in which we live than any leftist, progressive, anti-war movement and this book exposes them for the villains they are. This should be required reading in High School, when so many kids are being fed lies and heroic myths about the so called 'Greatest Nation' on Earth. We have to potential to be great. We have achieved great things in our short history, but we THE PEOPLE have to educate ourselves and stand up to these corrupters who lust for power and wealth at the expense of reason and sanity.

21 people found this helpful