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"They Made America" Newcomers (2004)

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Paying tribute to our immigrant culture...

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
23 March 2012

"Immigrants" is the second in a four-part series on folks who helped make America great. It's narrated by David Ogden Stiers--the same guy who often narrates episodes of "The American Experience"--and since I love "The American Experience", I thought I'd give this series a try. The shows are based on Harold Evans' book "They Made America"--so it's not surprising he's the most frequent interviewee on the shows.

This is the immigrant episode--stories of poor immigrants to America that struck it rich because of their vision. Had they stayed in their native lands, they probably never would have had these opportunities and would have remained in the bottom rungs of society. The three chosen for the episode are quite diverse and include: Giannini--who created the Bank of Italy chain--which later became Transamerica/Bank of America. He democratized banking making banks more for the common man.

Insul--who created the first large electric utilities and to do this, he created demand and lowered prices with increased volume. He also innovated by selling inexpensive stock/bonds for company. However, despite his success, his was a sad ending due to the Depression.

Rosenthals--(husband/wife team) bras were invented by them in an era when women were made to look unsexy by clothes that tried to eliminate curves. They founded Maidenform in the 1920s and made women more attractive.

Like the rest of the shows, this was fascinating, well made and a nice tribute to folks who, in many cases, are pretty much forgotten today. A nice history lesson that emphasizes something other than wars and dead presidents.

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