I do nearly all of the driving for our adventures, not so much due to skill but temperament. I don’t stress easily and while driving is one of the few things that can get me wound up it normally doesn’t. Trail on the other hand can get pretty stressed out just being a passenger when we are towing the trailer. My weakness as a driver is I get bored and hypnotized by the road easily which makes my reaction time and awareness drop precipitously.
To counter act this on longer drives I generally turn to books on tape or podcasts which give my mind something to chew on and thus stay alert and yet it is not so occupying that it distracts me from the action on the road. While a good conversation can do the same, we’ve learned those can take my attention well away from driving with some rather frightening results. Thus we keep the conversations light weight and the radio interesting.
We decided that the best thing to listen to while driving across America would be American history. For that we turned to an endless font of great audio: The Great Courses. These folks record college professors giving lectures on a wide range of academic subjects. We were turned on to them by our friends Jeff and Kate Grubb who order them often and share the CDs when they are done. Since we are now on the road we have instead started downloading them from Audible via Amazon.
Some of you may imagine that a lecture by a history professor might make for dull listening but I assure you this is not the case. For starters, they can pick from among the best lecturers available and as a result you get some pretty amazing speakers and story tellers in these courses. These are folks that built their careers on giving lectures and it shows through. Furthermore American history is filled with some incredible dramatic stories and characters. Most of us have heard of them in passing but these lectures really dive into the details and create a grand narrative of our countries past. The miles fly by and I look forward to our trips just so I can listen to more of these lectures.
The course below: The History of the United States 2nd Edition, is what we’ve been digging into as of late. It is a truly mammoth series and while we are only one Professor and about 12 hours in, so far it’s been consistently fantastic. If you have any interest in the subject at all, I strongly recommend getting these and making time to listen. They can be a bit pricey but you can get deals and if you have never used Audible you can get a course for free.
The History of the United States, 2nd Edition
Written by: The Great Courses
Narrated by: Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Professor Gary W. Gallagher, Professor Patrick N. Allitt
Length: 43 hrs and 21 mins
Series: The Great Courses: Modern History, Lecture
Release Date: 07-08-13
Publisher: The Great Courses
Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1mocsIN
This comprehensive series of 84 lectures features three award-winning historians sharing their insights into this nation’s past – from the European settlement and the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, 19th-century industrialization, two world wars, and the present day.