Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America

Taught By Professor Peter Conn, Ph.D., Yale University

University of Pennsylvania
Course No. 2527
24 Lectures
30 minutes / lecture

When I first saw this course listed in the Great Courses catalog, I debated whether I should instead order a more “serious” literature course. But since some of the titles covered are bestsellers that are on my reading “bucket list”, I thought why not give this series a try?

I have to say that my expectations of this course on popular books was embarrassingly off base. Though I had expected the series to be enjoyable, which it was, it was so much more. Professor Conn showed the historical and sociological milieu in which these books were popular, as well as the influence the books themselves had on American thought and culture.

It would be a big privilege American Citizens to get to know about the origin of the country of America in this course offered at a very affordable price from great courses coupons.

Some titles, such as The Bay Psalm Book and Ragged Dick, are foreign to most of 21st Century America. Yet Professor Conn still is able to let the learner see why they were important to those who read them. Bestsellers like Common Sense and Uncle Tom’s Cabin had direct influences on public policy which changed the fabric of America. Without The Jungle and Catch-22, how different would food production and military policy be?

These nonfiction and fiction popular books were not only influential, but were also popular just because they were good reading. Professor Conn leaves you wanting to finally pick up and read. His style is engaging and pleasant to listen to, and I recommend this excellent treatment.

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