British native, but long-term American resident Alistair Cooke hosted this long-running documentary on the development of the United States. Starting through the colonial periods, through the revolutionary war and pioneer expansionist eras, into the global conflicts and economic domination of the twentieth century, and ending with the social upheavals and counter-culture revolutions of the 1960's and 70's. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
I was in my junior year of high school when this was first broadcast by NBC (1972-1973). I was enthralled by Cooke's skill in imparting history without being dull or pedantic. Especially noted: the episode "Gone West," which brought home the sufferings of the pioneers who crossed the country via "shanks mare," horseback, and wagon, and "The First Impact" (which was the original first episode in the UK, but was broadcast twelfth in the US, with different opening narration), Cooke's portrait of the things that drew him to the US, including New Orleans jazz, the city of San Francisco, and fall color in Vermont. The only episode that fell a little flat even back then, and is very dated now, was the final part, in which Cooke examined "modern" society. It would have been better had he followed up on some critical issues of the 1950s and 1960s--the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, the growing feminist movement--to bring it up to the present day. Otherwise the series still holds up, and should be released on DVD here in the States. I made do of copies of library VHS tapes for years and then bought the Region 2 version when it came out.
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