The Civil War and Reconstruction Era by Professor David Blight

It takes a lot these days to get me off my duff for the sole purpose of endorsing someone else’s stuff. But I would be remiss to not point the few of you who wander the halls of the Mothership here towards a truly excellent (and free!) thing.

Yale has a bunch of their classes, past and present, available on iTunes as part of iTunes U. The most exceptional offering I have yet found, and the most exceptional offering I have yet found on iTunes U for that matter, is Professor David Blight’s course on the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era.

This is history done the way it should be.

There is narrative, anecdote, social history, and raw, hard facts.

There is also something I feel all great history should have: a strong argumentative thrust married to a taught narrative thread. This is edge of your seat story fused with a white hot moral case.

To put it succinctly: history is just blather if it does not lead us to question from where we’ve come and who we therefore are. This course does both.

Professor Blight argues that slavery was inexorably and intrinsically at odds with the economics and moral vision of the American Dream, that it was the cause of the war. He then chronicles the cost of the war, the opportunity and heartbreak of Reconstruction, and the deferment of the American Dream as the gains of the war were sacrificed on the altar of White reconciliation.

There is not a weak lecture in the bunch. I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Check it out.

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