Wednesday, May 12, 2010

America The Story of Us: Halfway Point

I figured I'd make a post about History Channel's series America The Story of Us and my reactions about it thus far.

The first night covered the early settlers in Jamestown and other towns and then skipped to the 18th century showing the tension that led to America's split with Great Britain and the corresponding war.

The first night seemed awful rushed and there was so much packed into just two hours. Not to mention, there was a huge gap in between the story of the earlier settlers and the few decades leading up until the Revolution. I know they can't deal with every event, and I've dealt with that. My main problem is that in the events they are covering, names are left out. I don't need to hear someone's life story, but a few name drops wouldn't hurt. In the case of Daniel Morgan, for instance, they mentioned him in the Revolution segment, which I was happy about. I was also thrilled that they included the Baron von Steuben and the impact he left on America's military. I wasn't happy with names such as the Marquis de Lafayette and General Nathanael Greene, among many others, who were not even mentioned. General Washington wasn't everywhere in this war. His generals played a huge role.

Night two dealt with pioneers and heading west. Night two I enjoyed more than night one. I felt everything was evenly spaced out and there were events and names included that many Americans may not have heard about. I'm also happy about the focus that this series is giving to women's history. I'm hoping that names like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be mentioned later on. What I wasn't happy about was the entire omission of a war: the War of 1812. This is often called the forgotten war, so no surprise it wasn't dealt with. I was sort of peeved that there wasn't even a mention. This was America's first invasion of a foreign power since it became a nation. People lost their lives, and not a word about it. That was my only beef with night two.

Night three dealt with the Civil War and the industrial revolution that followed. The hour about the war seemed rushed and, again, names were left out, along with infamous battles. We can't have everything, can we? And there was a complete disregard about the assassination of Lincoln. What we did see was how the railroad changed the country: new towns were rapidly popping up everywhere and the cowboy emerged.

This Sunday is night four and here is the summary:

Americans conquer a new frontier--the modern city--with Carnegie's empire of steel as its backbone. Skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty are symbols of the American Dream for millions of immigrants. Urban life introduces a new breed of social ills, set against the backdrop of stunning skylines and ambitious innovations.

Things I'm hoping to see in the next three Sundays: More segments about Women's History, including women getting the vote. Also, including the accomplishments of other Presidents. So far we've only heard about Washington and Lincoln.

So far, halfway through, I give this series a grade of B-.