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If you want an excellent, moderately in-depth understanding of the American Revolution then The History Channel Presents: The Revolution will exceed your expectations.

DVD Review: The Revolution From The History Channel

The Revolution is a 13-part series that showcases the personal stories behind America's fight for Independence. It begins with the roots of the rebellion and takes you step-by-step through all the years of the war and even through George Washington becoming President. It is contained on four DVDs, and the running time is 600 minutes or 10 hours in length.

Disk one contains episodes 1-4. The major political players are introduced here as escalating controversies and conflicts build. Boston is the center point with the Boston Massacre, the conflicts at Lexington and Concorde, and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. The rebellion escalates into war and the Continental Congress convenes.

In 1776 the Declaration of Independence is signed and America is born, but not without problems. Many believe the new country will not survive, and crisis after crisis seems to prove them right. It is the right person at the right time that gambles it all on a daring plan to save America. That man is George Washington as he takes his army across the Delaware to take on the feared Hessian Army.

Disk two contains episodes 5-7. As the American situation reaches desperation, Benjamin Franklin heads to Paris to convince the French to join the fight against Britain. During this time General Howe defeats Washington's troops badly at Brandywine. Luckily, Gates takes the battle of Saratoga, and this victory convinces France to enter the war.

As Washington continues to lose battles, some in Congress begin to question his ability to lead. Washington on the other hand is more concerned with the health and security of his army. All at the same time the once heroic General Benedict Arnold turns his back on his country in an act of pride that seals his fate as a traitor.

Disk three contains episodes 8-10. In their failure to defeat Washington in the north, the British turn their attention southward. They surround and lay siege to Charleston, South Carolina. After the fall of Charleston, the war takes off in the Carolina backcountry. In a stroke of genius, Nathanael Green and Daniel Morgan split their army and lead British General Cornwallis on a chase that ends in the Battle of Guildford Courthouse.

As the revolution continues, Washington has to face two mutinies in the Continental Army. England's opposition to the war continues to grow and the French grow tired of supporting America. Cornwallis moves his army to Yorktown, Virginia, and the allied forces close in for the final battle.

Disk four contains episodes 11-13. Finally free to live independently, the Americans now have new concerns. First a treaty of peace must be agreed to. Franklin and John Adams are charged with negotiating that peace while those at home must now come up with a new government to run America.

Eventually a new form of government takes shape and George Washington is urged to take the top office – that of President. The remainder of this disk reflects on Washington – how he defined the roll of President and how he makes his mark on the United States of America.

What makes The Revolution such a good treatment of the Revolution is the fact that it steps through each stage and really explores the details. It is easy to watch and very entertaining. The reenactments are believable and the sound and video quality are good.

The only thing missing is any kind of real bonus features. There is only one featurette called "History in the Making: The Revolution Behind the Scenes." What does make this really worth watching is that there are quite a few tidbits even I was not aware of — as I am a history buff especially of the Revolution — one of those being that General Howe, although he became the General of the British forces, was really against the war, and did not want to fight against those whom he thought of as British citizens.

While The Revolution is still not my most perfect ideal of what a treatment of this period in history should be, it would probably take over 20 hours of run time to come close, and it would have to acknowledge that the true reason for the escalation of war was that the British were attempting to invoke gun control on American citizens when they assaulted Concord. This also went to the heart of the eventual Second Amendment. At least in this series they do make mention in passing about the British trying to get to the weapon stores. This is the best treatment I have seen thus far.

If you want an excellent, moderately in-depth understanding of the American Revolution, then The Revolution will exceed your expectations. I highly recommend this series

Episode 1: Boston, Bloody Boston
Episode 2: Rebellion to Revolution
Episode 3: Declaring Independence
Episode 4: American Crisis
Episode 5: Path to World War
Episode 6: Forging an Army
Episode 7: Treason and Betrayal
Episode 8: The War Heads South
Episode 9: A Hornet's Nest
Episode 10: The End Game
Episode 11: Becoming a Nation
Episode 12: Road to the Presidency (aka Legacy)
Episode 13: A President and His Revolution

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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