Been listenting to a UC Berkeley course lately on Economic History of the US. Really interesting stuff - up to the 1870's or so right now.
Takeaways so far -
1. As you'd expect, a UC Berkeley professor has a considerable leftward bias. Not raging-America-hating Zinnish by any stretch, but it's noticeable in his lectures. Say, in one class diversion he'll talk about the nutsy mortgage stuff the big houses were doing, but not mention the federal requirements to make dodgy loans at the time. I notice the same omissions in bits and pieces in places where I am familiar (say, the spectrum of political opinions in the post-WWII South, or the lead up to the Trail of Tears) just enough to want to check his sources when he talks about stuff I'm *not* familiar with.
2. He provides them. Frankly, he's a perfect counterbalance, because he's up front about where he's coming from, shows his work, and makes a point to provide other viewpoints in the reading. His exploration of the government's role in opening and maintaining the frontier is an especially worthwhile set of counterarguments.
All the above said, my favorite moment from this morning's lecture -
"So 40 million dollars in gold, that's..let's see... wow.
Oh wow.... a thousand dollars an ounce now hunh?
Wow. Okay, so that's this much weight, so....."