Summary: What? You don't know what a Burgess is? -- You can't outline the Monroe Doctrine? -- Recall the 14th Amendment? -- Explain the difference between a sputnik and a beatnik?
Then you need The Cartoon History of the United Statesto fill those gaps. From the first English colonies to the Gulf War and the S&L debacle, Larry Gonick spells it all out from his unique cartoon perspective.