There is only one book recommended, Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States. The Zinn book will offer an unusual, strongly argumentative approach to American history. You may love it, and you may hate it, but it's not bland. Use the Zinn text to fill in gaps in the lectures, to offer counter arguments, or to supplement your knowledge. Any edition is fine--you can find the book at any large bookstore or order it online. You will not be directly tested on the contents of the Zinn book, but it will be useful in making your arguments. You might also try a similarly opinionated text with a different political slant, Larry Schweikart, A Patriot’s History of the United States.
The course will require extensive use of online assignments and internet source material. All students in this course must turn in a "journal" of responses to the weekly online exercises .
The journals will be graded three times, in sets--the first set early in the semester, the second set in the middle, and the third set at the end. All the things that count in a paper—grammar, spelling, thematic coherence, clarity, organization, evidence and argument—will count in grading the journal. Your journal entries must have an argument—they cannot simply be observations. See this link for more detail
If you are unwilling to work with online sources, then this is not the course for you. To complete this course you will need to make weekly 250-500 page word journal entries. There will also be one short paper due.