Wednesday, June 16, 2010

David Blight Lectures: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877

If you read Ta-Nehisi Coates (and if not, why not?) then you probably already know that David Blight's course at Yale on the Civil War and Reconstruction is high on his list of keys to understanding the Civil War:
My sense is that anyone seeking to be an autodidact of the Civil War should take the following steps. 1.) Read James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. 2.) Listen to all David Blight's lectures on the Civil War 3.) Watch Ken Burns epic documentary. 4.) Take a week off and drive through Virginia, visiting everything from the battlefields to the plantations to the Wal-Mart. So much of what happened is still in the people there.

I've been going through these each day on the elliptical, and during my commute, and I'm extraordinarily pleased with them. You can find all 27(!) lectures here at Academic Earth. I've been mainly listening to the audio podcasts (RSS feed for a podcatcher here), but I watched lecture 3 in video format and didn't see much point to it. While I guess he occasionally puts up visual aids, I haven't yet (into lecture 7 now) felt that I needed to see them... if I ever do, I can always go to the video after.

If you're like me and need something interesting to listen to while exercising, these lectures are a godsend. Listening to them on my morning commute has really cut into my reading time, however.