John Green’s Crash Course on the Civil War

A couple of colleagues in my history department utilize a few of John Green’s history video series. I never heard of him before this year, but apparently they are very popular with students. His most recent course is on the Civil War. It’s not a complete disaster. In fact, there are aspects of it that I really like. Green read a little David Goldfield and James McPherson and I really like the way he reinforces the causal importance of slavery.

4 comments… add one
  • Brad Oct 18, 2013 @ 3:26

    I think Al Mackey has featured some of these before.

  • larrycebula Oct 17, 2013 @ 19:35

    I watched a couple of these as they were first coming out and was really impressed by the quality of the interpretation.

  • Scott A. MacKenzie Oct 17, 2013 @ 17:37

    I’ve watched the entire series so far – his latest video deals with the Great Depression. It’s better than one may think. I too liked how he placed slavery at the center of his argument. He did lapse into northern superiority in numbers as key to victory. The second video addresses some of the shortcomings in the first, such as who freed the slaves, diplomacy, international comparisons (i.e. Taiping Rebellion, the War of the Triple Alliance with Paraguay, the Italian Risorgimento and German unification), the war’s costs, etc. He even mentions changing the nation’s relationship with death, brought to us by Drew Gilpen Faust.

    But let’s face it, we could nit-pick this to death using perhaps the most debated subject in American historiography, if not in any subject. I think the basics are here. If that inspires a few towards a greater interest in the subject, it’s a minor victory. It’s definitely better than other sources on the Internet.

    There’s a third video dealing with the Civil War’s battle, a straight-up military narrative which doesn’t really work.

    I’d also recommend watching the one on the 1860 election.

    • Joshua Horn Oct 18, 2013 @ 9:23

      Well the Battles of the Civil War video wasn’t supposed to work. He doesn’t think military history has any real importance.

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