(audiobook) For a history textbook, "A short history..." is very readable, which is pleasantly surprised. It is carefully organized into short sections by topics and covers the history of the U.S. from the first European explorers in the 15th century and up until the year 1900. And yes, it's quite short (only 8 hours of audio reading), which is also nice, because history books tend to become boring when too long. I learned quite a few interesting things from this book. Some examples:
  • I didn't know that so many American presidents were murdered while in office. In addition to Kennedy and Lincoln, there was also James Garfield in 1881 and William McKinley in 1901
  • Canada got its independence much later than the U.S. - in 1931!
  • The maximal 2-terms presidency was for a long time not a law, but a custom, set as a personal example by George Washington, and followed by many presidents since. It appears, however (out of the scope of the book) that this was actually made a law by the 22nd amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1947
  • I wasn't aware that during the civil war, the north was initially much stronger than the south
  • And last, but not least, the amount of "dirty politics" that was going on in the early United States is just staggering. I think it can serve as a sobering reminder to people who complain that the politicians are becoming more and more corrupt as time goes by.