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THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided
He was a dirt farmer's son; she was the daughter of wealthy Southern aristocrats. He was the Great Emancipator; she was the daughter of slave-owners. Together they ascended to the pinnacle of power at the most difficult time in the nation's history.
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Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that split the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This program weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world.
America and the Holocaust

America and the Holocaust
Complex social and political factors shaped America's response to the Holocaust.
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Complex social and political factors shaped America's response to the Holocaust, from Kristallnacht in 1938 through the liberation of the death camps in 1945. For a short time, the U.S. had an opportunity to open its doors, but instead erected a "paper wall," a bureaucratic maze that prevented all but a few Jewish refugees from entering the country. It was not until 1944, that a small band of Treasury Department employees forced the government to respond.
Bataan Rescue

Bataan Rescue
The most daring rescue mission of World War II.
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In late 1941, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers fought a desperate battle to defend the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines from the Japanese. When they lost, they were marched to prison camps in sweltering heat through a mosquito-infested jungle with little or no food or water. Many thousands died along the way.Three years later, with the war in the Pacific coming to an end, only 500 men in the Cabanatuan camp had survived the brutality of their captors and epidemics of tropical diseases. Fearing the Japanese would murder their captives before the U.S. Army could liberate the camp, the Americans sent an elite Ranger battalion to rescue the prisoners. The rangers sneaked 30 miles behind enemy lines and with the help of courageous Filipino resistance fighters, they mounted an astonishing rescue that was fraught with danger yet ultimately triumphant.
Battle of the Bulge

Battle of the Bulge
The single biggest and bloodiest battle American soldiers ever fought.
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The single biggest and bloodiest battle American soldiers ever fought. It came as a total surprise, on December 16th, 1944, when 30 German divisions roared across the Allied front in Belgium and Luxembourg. The war, after all, was coming to an end. Allied commanders were eating oysters, celebrating promotions, and reflecting on the death of Glenn Miller. This was Hitler's final gamble and for the more than half a million men thrown into the cause, an infernal test of courage and endurance.
Building the Alaska Highway

Building the Alaska Highway
One of the biggest and most difficult homeland defense projects ever undertaken.
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In May of 1942, across the rugged sub-Arctic wilderness of Alaska, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory, thousands of American soldiers began one of the biggest and most difficult construction projects ever undertaken -- the building of the Alaska Highway.

The United States had toyed for 80 years with the idea of building a road link from the lower 48 states to Alaska; but it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that spurred Washington into action. Worried that the Japanese might invade Alaska, President Roosevelt directed that a supply line be built to U.S military bases in the region.

Interweaving interviews with the men who were there, archival footage and beautiful cinematography of the sub-Arctic route the road took, this American Experience production tells how for eight months, young soldiers, some of whom had never left the southern United States before, battled mud, muskeg, and mosquitoes; endured ice, snow, and bitter cold; bridged raging rivers, graded lofty peaks, and cut pathways through primeval forests to push a 1,520-mile road across one of the world's harshest landscapes.

D-Day

D-Day
The most dramatic single event in WWII.
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It was truly a "battle of the world," a pivotal turning point in history, and the most dramatic single event in WWII. A military operation fraught with incalculable risk; the secret campaign was a triumph of intelligence and teamwork moving 5,000 ships carrying 150,000 men and 30,000 vehicles across one of the most unpredictable and dangerous bodies of water in the world. For all the split-second planning and careful rehearsal, it came down to the young men whose remembrances and recollections are the heart of this story.
Daughter from Danang

Daughter from Danang
The dramatic story of a Vietnamese mother, her Amerasian daughter, and their reunion 22 years after the Vietnam War.
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In 1975, with the end of the war in Vietnam imminent, Mai Thi Kim, a poor, young Vietnamese woman, sent her seven-year-old daughter to America as part of a controversial evacuation program known as Operation Babylift. The parting was devastating to both mother and child, but Kim believed her Amerasian daughter -- the product of a brief love affair with an American Navy officer -- would be in danger in Vietnam. The little girl was adopted by a single woman, renamed Heidi and brought up in Tennessee, where she concealed her Asian past and became "101%" American.Twenty-two years later, Heidi tracks down her birth mother and visits Danang. The reunion that had raised so many hopes and expectations for Heidi and Kim quickly becomes rife with tension and misunderstanding as the cultural gulf between Heidi and her Vietnamese family grows larger and larger.
FDR

FDR
Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man.
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His radio "Fireside Chats" went into millions of living rooms; his picture hung on the walls of homes and businesses; his wife was the most admired woman in America. Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored hope to a country that had lost it, led the nation during the greatest war in history and championed the common man. Yet there was nothing common about his aristocratic beginnings, and his exuberant personality disguised a painful private world.
Fly Girls

Fly Girls
During WWII more than a thousand women signed up to fly with the U.S. military.
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During WWII, more than a thousand women signed up to fly with the U.S. military. Wives, mothers, actresses and debutantes who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) test-piloted aircraft, ferried planes and logged 60 million miles in the air. Thirty-eight women died in service. But the opportunity to play a critical role in the war effort was abruptly canceled by politics and resentment, and it would be 30 years before women would again break the sex barrier in the skies.

George Washington -- The Man Who Wouldn't Be King (no website available)
The little known story of our first president.
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He was bumbling, yet ambitious. He volunteered to serve his country, but insisted on being reimbursed for expenses. He was the most famous general of the Revolution but a dismal tactician on the battlefield. Greedy and selfish, service to the colonies would profoundly change him. The man who came to symbolize the American Revolution could also be incredibly brave, generous and an inspirational leader who scorned attempts to participate in any system but a democratic one.

Ike (no website available)
A skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents.
(Dwight D. Eisenhower on The Presidents Web site)More InformationTeachers Guide

He went off to war an unknown soldier and returned a beloved hero. Often dismissed as a good-natured bumbler, Dwight D. Eisenhower was actually a skillful politician, a tough Cold Warrior and one of America's least understood presidents. When he left office in 1960, historians ranked Eisenhower in the bottom third of American presidents, below Chester Arthur. By the 1990s, he ranked near the top.
Jesse James

Jesse James
Meet the Confederate partisan of expansive ambition, unbending politics and surprising cunning who helped invent his own legend.
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The story of Jesse James remains one of America's most cherished myths... and one of its most wrong-headed. Less heroic than brutal, James was a product of the American Civil War. A Confederate partisan of expansive ambition, unbending politics and surprising cunning, he helped invent his own legend.
Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter
The story of an ambitious peanut farmer who rose to become America's thirty-ninth president. A failure in his single term in office, Carter turned to humanitarian work as an ex-president.
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Jimmy Carter traces the ascent of an ambitious country boy from a peanut farm in Plains, Georgia, to the Oval Office; examines the failings of Carter's political leadership in the turbulent 1970s; and explores the role religion played in his career. Carter ran for president as an outsider. He rode into power on the post-Watergate disaffection with Washington politics. But his inexperience resulted in an ineffectual and fractured administration. Inflation, recession, and a humbling hostage crisis blew his presidency dramatically off course. The crowning achievement of his one term in office, the Camp David Accords, which established a framework for peace in the Middle East, was the inspiration for his life after the White House. In the years since, Carter has recast himself as a giant of moral leadership. He has struggled to bring peace to war-torn countries; fought for the eradication of life-threatening diseases; and dedicated himself to housing America's poorest citizens. The film features interviews with many close to the Carter administration, including his wife Rosalynn, son Chip, Press Secretary Jody Powell and Vice President Walter Mondale.
Kit Carson

Kit Carson
The legendary trapper, scout, and soldier's exploits on the American frontier inspired popular dime novels, but those tales belie the complexities of the real Kit Carson.
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When the West was a mystery to most Americans, Carson mastered it, and his expertise made him not only famous but also sought-after. Eventually, by helping to spur a migration that would change the West forever, he unwittingly became an agent in the destruction of the life he loved.
LBJ

LBJ
One of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history.
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He was one of the most astute, perplexing and larger-than-life figures in modern American history. An accidental president, Lyndon Baines Johnson set out to make his mark by pushing through historic social legislation of a scale that rivaled FDR's New Deal. Bombastic and deeply emotional, Johnson's vision was shattered by the increasing debacle of Vietnam, and his presidency began to unravel.
MacArthur

MacArthur
A portrait of a complex, imposing and fascinating American general, General Douglas MacArthur.
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No soldier in modern history has been more admired -- or more reviled. Douglas MacArthur, liberator of the Philippines, shogun of Occupied Japan, brilliant victor of the Battle of Inchon, was an admired national hero when he was suddenly relieved of his command. A portrait of a complex, imposing and fascinating American general.
Nixon

Nixon
One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America.
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He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.

Orphans of the Storm (no website available)
In the summer of 1940, 10,000 British children were sent on a perilous sea voyage to safe havens in the United States.
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In the summer of 1940, as the German Luftwaffe began its assault on England, 10,000 British children were sent on a perilous sea voyage to safe havens in the United States. There, they forged life-long relationships with their "adopted" families, relationships that changes lives and attitudes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Patriots Day (no website available)
In 1775, local American militias routed the British at the Battle of Lexington and Concord -- but 65 men of His Majesty's 10th Regiment and 67 American rebels are still fighting today.
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In 1775, local American militias routed the British at the Battle of Lexington and Concord -- but 65 men of His Majesty's 10th Regiment and 67 American rebels are still fighting today. Who are they, and what has taken them on their personal journeys into the American past?Among the characters on the British side is one-time Off-Broadway theater director turned electrical engineer, Paul Hutchinson, who assumes the role of Major John Pitcairn. Leading the defense of Lexington is 54-year-old Skip Hayward, who plays the militia's Chief of Staff. Among the supporting characters are Henry Liu, a Chinese American banker, Mike Coppe, a pediatric dentist, and Dan Feen, a self-described "forensic historian" who leads discussions about historical accuracy.The film follows the reenactors as they shuffle between their 18th and 21st century lives. It captures them building sets, planning military engagements, drilling, rehearsing battles as well as celebrating Thanksgiving, moving house and working. In the end it celebrates their patriotism, love of costumes, civic duty, willingness to perform, and passion for history.

Pearl Harbor -- Surprise And Remembrance (no website available)
A minute-by-minute account, on both sides of the Pacific, leading up to the surprise attack that Sunday morning.
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The shock of what happened on December 7, 1941 has made Pearl Harbor a synonym for deceit and unpreparedness. Produced for the 50th anniversary, this examination of events shows the attack could have been foreseen -- the US and Japan had been on a collision course for years. A minute-by-minute account, on both sides of the Pacific, leading up to the surprise attack that Sunday morning.
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.

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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.

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.

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 Fall of Saigon (no website available)
Ten years after American ground troops arrived in South Vietnam, communists seized Saigon in a lightning attack that brought the war to a startling conclusion.
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South Vietnamese leaders believed that America would never let them go down to defeat -- a belief that died as North Vietnamese tanks smashed into Saigon on April 30, 1975, and the long war ended with South Vietnam's surrender.
The Fight

The Fight
Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought for their people, and for their nations on the brink of war. Most of all, they fought for themselves.
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On June 22, 1938, 70,000 fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to watch what some observers have since called "the most important sporting event in history." Millions more tuned in to hear a blow-by-blow description on the radio.The rematch between the African American heavyweight Joe Louis and his German opponent Max Schmeling was riveting -- "one hundred and twenty-four seconds of murder," as one newspaper put it. But for most spectators the fight was much more than a boxing match; it was an historic event freighted with symbolic significance, both a harbinger of the civil rights movement and a prelude to World War II.In this first feature-length documentary about the momentous encounter, American Experience captures the anticipation the bout generated, the swirl of events leading up to it, the impact Louis's victory had on black America and its significance for Jews on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Great War -- 1918 (no website available)
The bloodiest war of the century.
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All lingering 19th-century notions of the romance of battle were replaced by the terrible reality of 20th-century mechanized warfare. At Verdun, the French lost 300,000 men; at the Somme, the English lost one million. Against this setting, America reluctantly sent its boys to fight. The wrenching and heroic accounts of U.S. soldiers and nurses who served in the closing battles of the bloodiest war of the century.

The Hunt for Pancho Villa (no website available)
General John Pershing and his cavalry set out to get Villa, dead or alive.
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Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, was the culmination of years of bloody incidents along the border. For Americans, it was the last straw. In 1916, General John Pershing and his 150,000 man cavalry set out to get Villa, dead or alive. Before it was over, the U.S. and Mexico would be at the brink of war.
The Kennedys

The Kennedys
A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other.
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No family has had such a powerful hold on the American imagination. A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other. From Joseph Kennedy's rise on Wall Street and frustrations in politics, through John Kennedy's march to the presidency -- orchestrated by his father -- to Edward Kennedy's withdrawal from the 1980 presidential race following the scandal of Chappaquiddick, the family has left a legacy that continues to influence politics today.

The Last Stand At Little Big Horn (no website available)
One of the most frequently depicted and least understood moments in American history.
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In 1876, when the U.S. Army planned its biggest Indian campaign yet against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, General George Custer led the chase. Custer and his 210 men were surprised and surrounded, the result of arrogance, bad planning and bad intelligence. The battle took "about as much time as it takes a hungry man to eat dinner," leaving no white survivors. One of the most frequently depicted and least understood moments in American history, the story is told from both sides.

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (no website available)
A look at five real-life "Rosies" and the reality of working in the defense plants during WWII.
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An original look through newsreels, war department films, posters and interviews with five, real-life "Rosies" about the reality of working in the defense plants during WWII, and their reactions to having to give up those jobs for returning GIs.
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 Man Behind Hitler

The Man Behind Hitler
This portrait of Joseph Goebbels, delivered in words taken directly from his diaries, offers an insiderÍs view of the rise of the Nazi party.
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A symbol of Nazi cruelty and a master of cynical propaganda, Joseph Goebbels was the mastermind behind Adolf Hitler's disturbing success.Goebbels, called the "genius of spin" and the "Reich-Liar-General," was a complicated man whose attitudes fluctuated between extremes of self-pity and grandiose excess. This program shows how Goebbels constantly reinvented himself through the years of his greatest success, and allows the man to speak for himself through the diaries he kept. Actor Kenneth Branagh reads the diary excerpts, revealing a chilling personality whose words justified racism, the Holocaust, and total war.Rare historical footage from German archives traces the path of the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, exploring his initial attraction to the Nazi party, his adoration of Hitler, his wild extermination fantasies, and, ultimately, his tragic self-delusions and suicide in 1945.

The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry (no website available)
The first officially formed regiment of northern black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
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The first officially formed regiment of northern black soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the 54th's roster included shopkeepers, clerks, cobblers and seamen. They knew the eyes of the nation would be on them at a time when many whites insisted that black soldiers were too cowardly to fight. By the war's end, 180,000 black troops filled the Union ranks.
The Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg Trials
The story of the dramatic post-World War II tribunal that brought Nazi leaders to justice and defines trial procedure for state criminals to this day.
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In November 1945, surviving representatives of the Nazi elite stood before an international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. The 22 men were charged with the systematic murder of millions during World War II. U.S. chief prosecutor Robert Jackson hoped to show that crimes against humanity would never again go unpunished.
Truman

Truman
The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
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He was a farmer, a businessman gone bankrupt, an unknown politician from Missouri who suddenly found himself president. Of all the men who had held the highest office, Harry Truman was the least prepared. But he would prove to be a surprise. Facing some of the biggest crises of the century, Truman would end the war with Germany, use the atomic bomb against Japan, confront an expanding Soviet Union and wage war in Korea -- all while the woman he adored, his wife Bess, refused to stay in the White House and play the role of First Lady. The story of the unlikely rise of a gritty American original.
Two Days in October

Two Days in October
In Vietnam, a U.S. battalion marched into an ambush. Half a world away, a student demonstration turned violent for the first time. Two days in 1967 revealed a nation divided over a war that continues to haunt us.
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Based on the book They Marched Into Sunlight by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, this American Experience production tells the story of two turbulent days in October 1967 when history turned a corner.

In Vietnam, a U.S. battalion unwittingly marched into a Viet Cong trap. Sixty-one young men were killed and as many wounded. The ambush prompted some in power to wonder whether the war might be unwinnable.

Half a world away, angry students at the University of Wisconsin protested the presence of Dow Chemical recruiters on campus. The demonstration spiraled out of control, marking the first time that a student protest had turned violent.

Told almost entirely by the people who took part in the harrowing events of those two days -- American soldiers, police officers, relatives of men killed in battle, protesting students, university administrators and Viet Cong fighters -- the film offers a window onto a moment that divided a nation and a war that continues to haunt us.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
The dramatic story of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was an ineffective president whose two terms in office were rocked by racial conflict and corruption scandals.
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This multi-hour biography of Ulysses S. Grant paints a nuanced portrait of one of America's most paradoxical leaders. The greatest hero of the Civil War, Grant was a brilliant military strategist who rose from obscurity to a rank held previously only by George Washington. However, the strength of the Confederate resistance forced Grant into a hard war that destroyed the South and led to his being labeled "a butcher."Propelled into the White House by his battlefield success, Grant lacked the political skills to deal with the issues of the era: reconstructing the South and managing the nation's rapidly expanding economy. His two terms were rocked by bitter racial conflict and corruption scandals. Seven years after leaving office, Grant was financially ruined by the collapse of an investment house in which he had placed his assets. He spent his final days in a race against time as he battled cancer while finishing his epic war memoirs.
Victory in the Pacific

Victory in the Pacific
The story of the end of World War II, told through American and Japanese first-hand accounts.
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In this provocative, thorough examination of the final months of the war, American Experience looks at the escalation of bloodletting from the vantage point of both the Japanese and the Americans. As the film shows, most of the Emperor's inner circle was determined to continue the war even after losses in the Philippines in February 1945 cut off Japan's supply lines. And though he was warned that the country, brought to its knees by the conflict, might erupt in a Communist revolution, Emperor Hirohito believed that one last decisive battle could reverse Japan's fortunes.

The Americans, for their part, were startled by the intensity and determination of the Japanese defenders in the South Pacific. "Do the suicides of Saipan mean the whole Japanese race will choose death before surrender?" wrote a reporter in Time . From the U.S. capture of the Mariana Islands through the firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of the atomic bomb, Victory in the Pacific chronicles the dreadful and unprecedented loss of life and the decisions made by leaders on both sides that finally ended the war.

Vietnam: A Television History

Vietnam: A Television History
The war in Vietnam changed a generation -- and continues to color American thinking today.
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Vietnam was the first television war, and seen again its images are as powerful as when they first appeared on the screen. Weaving remarkable historical footage with a dispassionate narrative and the recollections of policymakers and ordinary soldiers on both sides, This program carefully analyzes the costs and consequences of the war. "Vietnam," a television classic, has been called "extraordinary," "riveting," "meticulously researched and carefully balanced" and has won every major broadcast award.
War Letters

War Letters
From the American Revolution to Desert Storm -- newly discovered stories of courage, longing, and sacrifice.
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Based on newly discovered personal correspondence from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War, this program brings to life vivid eyewitness accounts of famous battles, intimate declarations of love and longing, poignant letters penned just before the writer was killed, and heartbreaking "Dear John" letters from home.The best of these letters transcend the subject of war; they are about love, perseverance, honor, passion, and faith. Most are unpublished, many rescued from oblivion in attics and basements. Read by a cast of celebrity actors, they are illustrated with a blend of dramatic archival footage and photographs, evocative recreations, and images of those who wrote, and those who read, letters from American battlefronts.
Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson
He was a confident and gifted orator who craved affection and demanded loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America at a time of war and chaos. Woodrow Wilson explores the transformation of a history professor into one
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He was a gifted orator who was supremely confident before crowds, yet awkward in small groups. An emotionally complex man, he craved affection and demanded unquestioned loyalty. An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, he led America onto the world stage at a time when war and chaos threatened everything he cherished.Woodrow Wilson, a three-hour biography in two parts, explores the transformation of a history professor into one of America's greatest presidents. Wilson's life was shaped by great conflicts: the Civil War which he lived through as a child, and the First World War into which he reluctantly led America as president. The second conflict ultimately claimed him as a victim. While campaigning for his far-sighted League of Nations, he suffered a paralyzing stroke from which he never fully recovered. The only president incapacitated in office, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife who became the de facto chief executive.
Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, ultimately sparking brutal race riots.
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In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican-American ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed Mexican youth -- known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore -- were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across the city arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen "zoot-suiters" headed to a trial in which prosecutors had little evidence to present. Nonetheless, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to "zoot-suiters" being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizen's committee concluded the riots had been fired by racial prejudice and encouraged both by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department.
THEMATIC: War and Politics:

Politics  |   The Cold War  |   War/Military

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