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TV Review: America: The Story of Us – Conclusion

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Fifty million babies were born in the 15 years following World War II. No wonder it was called the "Baby Boom."  I was born in the middle of the boom and two years after it ended, America elected its youngest President up to that point.

Copyright 2008 Etier PhotographyThe last of the premiere run of broadcasts in The History Channel's groundbreaking series, America: The Story of Us aired on Memorial Day evening and featured a gallery of talking heads. Yep, the stars were out Monday night and some shone brightly while others, well, you wonder how they made the cut.

Throughout the series, THC has supplemented the thoughtful narration of Liev Schreiber with an impressive array of credible commentators who have earned the right to contribute along with household names (media stars). Tom Brokaw was, for me, the highlight of the broadcasts as he chimed in with obviously original material. His comments sounded extemporaneous, they were thoughtful, and they cut to the bone: "We don't turn the other cheek. That's not who we are," and "We can build any damned thing we please."

So much of who and what America is today is a result of technological advances. Throughout the series, James Meigs of Popular Mechanics was on hand to lend credibility to stories as diverse as the cotton gin, computers, the technology of war, the oil and automobile industries, computers, and space flights. Donald Trump came across confidently speaking about personal traits for success as well as big business deals like the Louisiana Purchase. Sean Hannity, Martha Stewart, and Buzz Aldrin fit in nicely with their areas of expertise along with noteworthy contributions from selected military men (Colin Powell, Col. Tommy Franks) and politicians (Rudy Giuliani). Annette Gordon Reed of Rutgers made intelligent and appropriately emotional contributions to the dialog in several episodes. There was a parade of well known faces as well as strangers making gratuitous appearances or simply pandering to specific demographic groups.

This broadcast included the last two episodes, "Boomers" and "Millennium." Remember the BBC series from the late '70s starring James Burke, Connections? It showed how the interconnectivity of scientific achievements, world events, and important discoveries led to current modern technologies. Several episodes on America: The Story of Us highlighted similar connections and added depth and substance to a quick overview of American history. How do you cover over 200 years of significant events in 12 hours? The production could have included 36 hours of air time and I'm sure there would still have been complaints about the lack of substance and what got left out.

Although critics from either extreme of our current socio-political spectrum can rightfully complain, the producers did a remarkable job in maintaining neutrality and inclusiveness. Some groups will probably voice their concerns about how thoroughly their issues were covered, but few can complain for not having been considered. It's true, we are a land of many nations and technology has driven our progress for over 400 years. We have matured into a country where the vision and dreams of the founders can be realized. The unconquerable American character has persevered. We will continue the quest to be the hope of mankind on earth; to be, "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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  • Gail

    I found it very predictable that slavery and the plight of the black man was given for at least 20 minutes, while the Indians (you remember, the ORIGINAL owners of this land) are barely mentioned, as usual. I didn’t see one indian commenting either. Talk about prejudice.