The internet has lots of free content with a wide range of quality, from total junk to absolutely amazing. Today I’m going to talk about Crash Course US History, which is free and available on YouTube. First, here is the link to Crash Course US History on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s
The course is narrated by John Green, who I’ve otherwise seen on the YouTube channel Mental Floss. He is a fast talker, but his mannerisms are funny and engaging. Each episode covers a period of European-era US history, with a total of 47 regular episodes (and one bonus episode) bringing us up to the present day, at least the present day when the series was created. Each episode features a narration of the relevant events and people, uneducated comments from “Me from the Past” (John Green’s former self), an exaggerated animated depiction of some historical event in question (the “Thought Bubble”), and the reading of an original-source document where John Green has to guess the author, and if he gets it wrong, he gets fake-shocked by a “shock pen” as punishment.
So, here are some of the strengths of the series:
- It’s brief and to-the-point. It doesn’t get bogged down in boring details that aren’t relevant for a surface-level discussion of history.
- It’s funny and engaging.
- It places minimal emphasis on dates and no emphasis on memorizing dates.
- It’s not just a history of wars and battles. Wars are mentioned, but not in the manner common of many other history books where history is basically just a way to get from one war to the next.
- It’s divided neatly into bite-size segments.
- It provides a good context for historical discussions. It’s easy to pause a lesson and have a brief discussion on whatever topic comes up.
Now, the videos are sprinkled with commentary and it’s primarily politically-left leaning commentary. However, for the most part the commentary is brief and not way overboard.
A here’s a video: