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Race for the Superbomb

Race for the Superbomb
The U.S. and the Soviet Union race to build the world's most powerful bomb.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteTeachers Guide

At the dawn of the Cold War, the United States initiated a top secret program in New Mexico to build a weapon even more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. A world away, on the frozen steppes of Siberia, the Soviet Union began a similar effort. A web of spies and scientists, intrigue and deception marked the race to develop the hydrogen bomb, a weapon that would change the world.
Race to the Moon

Race to the Moon
The historic journey of Apollo 8 captivated the world during a year marked by assassinations, riots, and war.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

On Christmas Eve 1968, one of the largest audiences in television history tuned in to an extraordinary sight: a live telecast of the moon's surface as seen from Apollo 8, the first manned space flight to leave Earth's gravitational pull and orbit the moon. The historic journey captivated people around the world; many welcomed a technological triumph in space after a year marked by assassinations, riots and war.

As this American Experience production reveals, however, the mission's success was far from assured. The Apollo 8 astronauts had just four months to prepare for the risky lunar orbit, and catastrophic failure would have brought a halt to America's goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

With images and audio never before broadcast, this film recounts the flight many consider to be NASA's most daring and important. Interviews with Apollo 8 astronauts, their wives, mission control staff, and journalists take viewers inside the high-stakes space race of the late 1960s to reveal how a bold decision by NASA administrators put a struggling Apollo program back on track and allowed America to reach the moon before the Soviets.

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (no website available)
Her warning sparked a revolution in environmental policy and created a new ecological consciousness.
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She had been a biologist for the federal government when she first took note of the effects of the unregulated use of pesticides and herbicides, especially DDT. Magazines refused to publish her articles because they were afraid of losing advertising. When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1963, she was viciously attacked, called "an ignorant and hysterical woman." But her warning sparked a revolution in environmental policy and created a new ecological consciousness.

Radio Bikini (no website available)
While the U.N. debated strategies for control of atomic energy, the U.S. Navy was preparing two highly-publicized nuclear tests.
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While the U.N. debated strategies for control of atomic energy, the U.S. Navy was preparing two highly-publicized nuclear tests. Seven hundred fifty cameras were shipped to Bikini to be used for a major propaganda film. Bikinians had no say about turning their idyllic island into an atomic test site. Forty years later, their home would still be too contaminated to support human life.

The Radio Priest (no website available)
Father Charles Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest from Michigan, uses the new power of radio to become one of the first media stars.
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Father Charles Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest from Michigan, uses the new power of radio to become one of the first media stars; every Sunday he would broadcast his message railing against the nation's economic and social system to millions of listeners caught in the grip of the Depression.
Reagan

Reagan
The life of the president who saw America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
(Watch the program online on The Presidents Web site.)More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

When he left the White House in 1988, Ronald Reagan was one of the most popular presidents of the century. A former Hollywood actor and seemingly simple man, Reagan had been consistently underestimated by his opponents. He overcame them all with a combination of charm and unfailing optimism, rising to become a president who always preferred to see America as a "shining city on a hill" and himself as its heroic defender.
Reconstruction The Second Civil War

Reconstruction The Second Civil War
The stories of ordinary people, North and South, in the tumultuous years after the Civil War, when America struggled to rebuild the Union and integrate former slaves into the life of the nation.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

In his first speech after the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln began with only a few words to celebrate the recent victory. He went straight to the problem at hand: acknowledging that there was no agreed-upon plan for the future, and warning that the way ahead would be "fraught with great difficulty." Spanning the years 1863 to 1877, Reconstruction tells the story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America struggled to rebuild itself, successfully bring the South back into the Union and integrate former slaves into the life of the country. This three-hour series interweaves the stories of key political players in Washington -- among them Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses Grant -- with the stories of ordinary people, black and white, Republican and Democrat, in the North and South, whose lives were caught up in the turbulent struggles of the era.
Remember the Alamo

Remember the Alamo
In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers, and 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos. With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Although under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers agitated by what they saw as restrictive Mexican policies. Mexican officials, concerned with illegal trading and immigration, were prepared to fight hard to keep the province under their control. Caught in the middle were the area's 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos.With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side. Many chose to fight with their Anglo neighbors against an army sent by Mexico City. The conflict pitted brother against brother and devastated the community. The Tejano gamble for a more prosperous future in an independent Texas proved tragic. Following the revolution, the Tejanos were overwhelmed by a surge of Anglo immigration leaving them foreigners in a land they had fought to defend.
Rescue at Sea

Rescue at Sea
Wireless telegraphy is used in 1909 to rescue more than 1,500 lives after two ships collide in dense fog.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

On January 23, 1909, two ships -- one carrying Italian immigrants to New York City, the other, American tourists to Europe -- collided in dense fog off Nantucket Island. In a moment, more than 1,500 lives became dependent on a new technology, wireless telegraphy, and on Jack Binns, a twenty-six-year-old wireless operator on board one of the ships. A story of courage, luck, and heroism at sea. Produced by Ben Loeterman.
Return With Honor

Return With Honor
The moving story of American prisoners of war in North Vietnam.
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"Return with Honor" is the story of American fighter pilots held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam. Told by the men themselves, the film is "a major shift in the screen image of the Vietnam veteran," according to the New York Times. More than 20 veterans describe their captivity and their struggle to survive mentally and physically, and return with honor. Their moving accounts are combined with archival footage from Vietnam and the United States to create an inspiring tale of personal heroism.
RFK

RFK
Robert Francis Kennedy would almost certainly have been president if his violent death hadn't intervened. This probing and perceptive biography reassesses the remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, the boy Joe Sr. called the "runt."
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

Robert Francis Kennedy would almost certainly have been president if his violent death hadn't intervened. He was brave, claims one biographer, "precisely because he was fearful and self-doubting." This probing and perceptive biography reassesses the remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, the boy Joe Sr. called the "runt."Featuring extensive interviews with family members, friends, journalists, Washington insiders, and civil rights activists, the film chronicles the pivotal role RFK played in many of the major events of the 1960s -- the Cuban Missile Crisis , the civil rights movement , the war in Vietnam. The film looks closely at Kennedy's complicated relationships with some of the leading figures of his day, Martin Luther King and Lyndon B. Johnson among them. And it reveals much about his personal world, his role as family mediator, his involvement with Marilyn Monroe, and his overwhelming grief and guilt following the assassination of his older brother.
The Richest Man in the World:  Andrew Carnegie

The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie
A look at the poor emigrant boy who built a fortune and then began systematically to give it all away.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteTeachers Guide

A look at the poor emigrant boy who built a fortune in railroads and steel, and, unlike any industrialist of his time, began systematically to give it away; a man full of contradictions and inner conflict.
Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails
The evocative stories of teen hoboes crisscrossing America during the Depression.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

During the Depression-era 1930's, tens of thousands of teenagers hopped freight trains in search of a better life elsewhere. What they found was a mixture of adventure, camaraderie, hardship and loneliness. The evocative stories of teen hoboes crisscrossing America during tough times.
The Rockefellers

The Rockefellers
No American family was as powerful, as admired -- or as hated.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers Guide

Few families in America have been as powerful, as admired, or as hated as the Rockefellers. And no family has been as rich. Over the course of more than a century, they exerted an unparalleled influence over nearly every aspect of American life, from business and government to art and education. The saga of four generations of a remarkable family.

Roots of Resistance -- The Story of the Underground Railroad (no website available)
Men and women, black and white, risked their lives to carve an elaborate network of escape routes out of slavery.
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Men and women, black and white, risked their lives to carve an elaborate network of escape routes out of slavery in the mid 1800s -- trails and backroads, safehouses, river crossings and night trains leading as far north as Canada. Disguises, secret rendezvous and special codes were used to guard the identity of "conductors" and their fugitive "passengers." But flight to free territory didn't guarantee freedom; fugitives could be hunted down and returned.
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