John Green’s Crash Course in U.S. History: From Colonialism to Obama in 47 Videos

Those who cannot remember the past, said George Santayana, are condemned to repeat it. Luckily, if you learn about the past from John Green’s Crash Course video series, you can play them on repeat as many times as you like until you do remember it. We’ve previously featured the acclaimed young-adult novelist, pioneering vlogger, internet educator, and apparent history buff Green’s Crash Course in Big History and Crash Course in World History, and today we have for you his much more narrowly-focused Crash Course in U.S. History.

The history of the United States of America — an entity much younger than not just the universe and the world but than most other countries — would seem entirely manageable by comparison, one Green and his team could knock off in a few weeks and move on to grander subjects. But as anyone in the nonfiction publishing industry knows, when American history sells, it sells, not just because of the country’s prominent place on the world stage, but because American history connects to so many other not just historical but social, political, economic, and even technological themes.

Green and company (a group that includes his onetime high school history teacher) thus have more than enough to work with for all 47 episodes of Crash Course U.S. History, from the natives and the Spaniards to the American Revolution to the Civil War to the Great Depression to the 60s to the Clinton years to what the series calls Obamanation — with plenty in between. Green tells the story with his usual mixture of well-selected detail, copious visual aids, and dizzying speed (enough of all of them so that you really do need to re-watch the videos, or at least pause them frequently), resulting in a breezy yet surprisingly comprehensive long-form primer on just what made the United States so big, so powerful, so innovative, so self-regarding, so frustrating — and, ultimately, so fascinating.

Related Content:

A Crash Course in World History

Crash Course Big History: John Green Teaches Life, the Universe & Everything

Download 78 Free Online History Courses: From Ancient Greece to The Modern World

A Short History of America, According to the Irreverent Comic Satirist Robert Crumb

Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in CinemaFollow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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  • Robin Arkell says:


    I’m a 5th grade teacher and my class LOVES the U.S. crash course videos! Loves them! They have to earn the right to watch them by wading through our textbook first, because the crash courses are so fast-paced that they work better if students are already familiar with the names/dates/events. I also sometimes have to leap up and fast-forward sections (for example, “mole asses” for “molasses” – parents don’t find that as funny in the classroom as the students do.)

    We’re writing today because of two inaccuracies in Crash Course #6, Prelude to the Revolution, which we’re proud to have noticed:

    1. The quote “shot heard round the world” does not come from “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”, (which I had to memorize in my youth), it comes from Emerson’s “Concord Hymn”, (which I also had to memorize.) I am very old!

    2. The Stamp Act was not repealed because of the colonists’ protests, it was repealed because it was so costly to enforce that George III would not make any profit from the tax.

    LOVE your program!

    Robin Arkell

  • Jeremy Bell says:

    Adolph Hitler had a malady called “meteorism”, which caused excessive farting.

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