The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents (2013)

TV Mini-Series
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A detailed, and unbiased, look at the 43 men who have been the presidents of the United States of America.

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Series cast summary:
 Himself - Narrator (8 episodes, 2013)
H.W. Brands ...
 Himself - University of Texas at Austin (8 episodes, 2013)
Richard Norton Smith ...
 Himself - Presidential Historian (7 episodes, 2013)
Donald Ritchie ...
 Himself - Historian, U.S. Senate (6 episodes, 2013)
Steven M. Gillon ...
 Himself - University of Oklahoma (5 episodes, 2013)
George C. Edwards III ...
 Himself - Texas A&M University (5 episodes, 2013)
 Himself - Historian (5 episodes, 2013)
Ted Widmer ...
 Himself - Historian & Former Presidential Speechwriter (5 episodes, 2013)
David Pietrusza ...
 Himself - Historian & Author (4 episodes, 2013)
Randy Roberts ...
 Himself - Purdue University (4 episodes, 2013)
Ken Kato ...
 Himself - Historian, U.S. House of Representatives (4 episodes, 2013)


A detailed, and unbiased, look at the 43 men who have been the presidents of the United States of America.

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15 January 2013 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Re-looking the history of the American presidency
2 September 2013 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

The President of the United States has always embodied the hopes and dreams and ambitions of the American public, due to the power it has been vested with. Time and again the American public have viewed the presidency in varying light, depending on the era the country is living in. While there are presidents who had risen to the occasion, there are also presidents who had faltered. There are also those who have come to define the presidency as well.

The eight-part series looks at the modern history of the United States through the 44 men who has occupied the position from the first president in George Washington to the incumbent in Barack Obama who became the 44th President of the United States since he began his term in 2009 and being re-elected for another four more years in the presidential election last year. The world and the United States which George Washington would come to inherit and live in after the War of Independence ended in 1783 was in an age of monarchy. Democracy was a very new concept to the world in 1789. But even before Washington would take his oath in New York City in 1789, there was the debate of how the democratic experiment is to be carried out, given it is much open to interpretation. In the end what would come into being is the three branches of government which many has come to take for granted in the American brand of democracy would take shape in the executive with the presidency, legislative in the form of the Congress and the judiciary in the form of the Supreme Court, with each branch acting as a check and balance on the other.

But even how to elect a president before George Washington took his oath was equally contentious. It is being taken for granted these days that ordinary citizens are the ones who decide who occupy the White House but prior to Washington taking his oath, but the voting rights was limited in his day. But as the history of the presidential elections would eventually come to tell us with how George W. Bush would be elected in the contentious 2000 presidential election, the person who would come to occupy the White House does not always come from the Electoral College but via the popular vote.

For the outsider, one cannot help but look back in the recent history of the American presidential elections and realised that some things remain the same as they are when it comes to presidential campaigns even with the varying eras the United States is living in, depending on the world the country is living in and how the role of the president has evolved over time. When it comes to the 44 men, it is a reminder that despite whatever qualities are needed to be the President of the United States, they are often being trapped by the era they are living in. Presidents are also defined by the legacy they left behind after they left office and some made a bigger impact than the others on whatever they do. There is also how throughout the course of the modern history of the United States, how each president handles the economy and social issues with various results.

When it comes to the modern presidential history, presidents are also judged by their second term that is if they get elected to it. Recent history told us foreign policy often shape a president's second term, and it certainly did to an extent especially in the case of Richard Nixon who might had been remembered for the Watergate scandal, his China policy has now come to be viewed in a different light especially in the documentary series itself given of how China has come to be viewed economically especially in the world now and how Nixon paved the way for the United States in its dealings with its former enemies on the world stage.

But it is the working style of the presidents which always shape how the American public come to view the person they have elected to be in the White House. Regardless the style, it can either working for or against the president. There is also the evolving power of the media and how it could work for or against the president as well. Only one thing is constant, and that is the unpredictability the president of the United States can find himself in when he occupies the White House.

It is a documentary series which does make one look at the history of the American presidency in a different light, with facts and little-known anecdotes which make it possible. It is definitely enriching and informative for anyone watching it, regardless their knowledge of the American presidency prior to watching the series.

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