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THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

A Brilliant Madness

A Brilliant Madness
The story of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash.
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A Brilliant Madness is the story of a mathematical genius whose career was cut short by a descent into madness. At the age of 30, John Nash, a stunningly original and famously eccentric MIT mathematician, suddenly began claiming that aliens were communicating with him and that he was a special messenger. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Nash spent the next three decades in and out of mental hospitals, all but forgotten. During that time, a proof he had written at the age of 20 became a foundation of modern economic theory. In 1994, as Nash began to show signs of emerging from his delusions, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. The program features interviews with John Nash, his wife Alicia, his friends and colleagues, and experts in game theory and mental illness.
Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro
Castro's face with its trademark beard, has become an iconic image worldwide, yet the man himself remains an enigma to all but a few. Learn about the most resilient of leaders.
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On January 3, 1959, a column of victorious young rebels advanced along Cuba's main highway towards Havana. At the head of the column rode 33-year-old Fidel Castro Ruz. As he went by, a Cuban peasant turned to an American journalist, and said: "There he goes, the hope of a people."

Over the next few decades, by the force of his personality and the might of his Soviet benefactor, Castro turned himself and Cuba into significant players on the world stage. He did so while surviving the hostility of ten consecutive U.S. presidents, an invasion, several CIA assassination attempts and an economic embargo.

Castro's face with its trademark beard, has become an iconic image worldwide, yet the man himself remains an enigma to all but a few. Through interviews with relatives, childhood friends, fellow rebel leaders, Bay of Pigs veterans, human rights activists and journalists, American Experience: Fidel Castro constructs an intimate and revealing portrait of the most resilient of leaders.

George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush
A biography of the 41st U.S. president, from his service in World War II to his days in the Oval Office.
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The latest in American Experience's series of award-winning and critically-acclaimed presidential portraits, this two-part biography examines the life and career of the 41st president, from his service in World War II and his early career in Texas to his days in the Oval Office, first as vice president to Ronald Reagan, then as the leader who presided over the first Gulf War. Drawing upon Bush's personal diaries and interviews with his closest advisors and most prominent critics, the film also explores Bush's role as the patriarch of a political family whose influence is unequaled in modern American life.
Hijacked

Hijacked
In September 1970, Palestinian militants seized five commercial aircraft, giving birth to a new era of terrorism.
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For more than 30 years it would be known as "the blackest day in aviation history." On September 6, 1970, members of the militant Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (P.F.L.P.), hijacked four commercial airplanes. They commandeered a fifth aircraft three days later. Wanting to attract attention to the Palestinian cause and secure the release of several of their comrades, the P.F.L.P. spectacularly blew up four of the planes.

Today the commanders who planned and carried out the attack resist comparison to the terrorists who masterminded the events of September 11, 2001: members of the P.F.L.P. were not religious extremists, but secular Marxist Leninists. And of the almost 600 passengers taken hostage, none were killed. And yet more than three decades later, it is clear that a connection exists between the two seminal events, that September 6, 1970 gave birth to a new era of terrorism. In telling this dramatic and complicated story, award-winning producer Ilan Ziv interviews leaders of the P.F.L.P., militants who carried out the attack, journalists who covered the hijackings, crew members and passengers. More than just recounting the events of those tense September days, this American Experience production examines how and when Middle East militants began to see civilians as legitimate pawns in their struggles for self-determination.

Love in the Cold War (no website available)
A family torn apart by political beliefs.
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Eugene Dennis fled to Moscow to avoid indictment and prison for his work for the American Communist Party in the late 1920s; his wife Peggy and 18-month-old son soon followed. In 1935, they were reassigned to America but ordered to leave behind their five-year-old who spoke only Russian. A second son, born in America, offers an honest and touching examination of the lives of his parents, whose political beliefs tore the family apart.
Oswald's Ghost

Oswald's Ghost
A fresh look at President John F. Kennedys assassination, the publics reaction, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in government institutions.
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that points to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald's Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.
Race for the Superbomb

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

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.
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."
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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.

Spy in the Sky (no website available)
The plane provided a high-tech peek behind the Iron Curtain.
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In the spring of 1960, Francis Gary Powers' U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. Overnight, this top-secret plane became the most famous aircraft in the world. Behind the incident was a team of engineers and pilots who had raced against the clock to design, perfect and deploy a plane which could provide a high-tech peek behind the Iron Curtain.
The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift
After the Soviet blockade of West Berlin, British and American pilots delivered food and fuel to the city's two million civilians and twenty thousand allied soldiers for nearly a year. Using re-enactments and personal stories of those who lived through t
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It could have been the start of World War III. Instead, it became the largest humanitarian campaign the world had ever seen. On June 24, 1948, one of the first major crises of the Cold War occurred when the Soviet Union blocked railroad and street access to West Berlin. For nearly a year two million civilians and twenty thousand allied soldiers in the city's western sector were fed and fueled entirely from the air. Former German soldiers built airfields and repaired engines for the enemies they had been shooting out of the sky just three years before. British and American pilots, so recently delivering death, were now angels of mercy, supplying coal and flour, coffee and chocolate to the beleaguered city. Through lavish re-enactments and the personal stories of those who lived through the airlift, this AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production provides a dramatic and striking portrait of the first battle of the Cold War.
The Living Weapon

The Living Weapon
This film examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success.
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In early 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt received an alarming intelligence report: Germany and Japan were developing biological weapons for potential offensive use. In response, the U.S. and its allies rushed to develop their own germ warfare program, enlisting some of America's most promising scientists in the effort. This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success. As America's germ warfare program expanded during the Cold War, scientists began to conduct their own covert tests on human volunteers. The United States continued the development and stockpiling of biological weapons until President Nixon terminated the program in 1969. "Biological weapons have massive, unpredictable, and potentially uncontrollable consequences," he told the nation. "Mankind already carries in its hands too many of the seeds of its own destruction."

The Satellite Sky (no website available)
A uniquely impressionistic history of the early years of the Space Race.
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Few events shocked America more than the news in 1957 that Russia had launched the first satellite. It was an assault on our national pride, even a threat to national security. Using news reels, commercials, television shows, government films, and science fiction movies, the film presents a uniquely impressionistic history of the early years of the Space Race.
THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

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