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America: The Story of Us (2010)

Liev Schreiber , History  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,155 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Liev Schreiber
  • Directors: History
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 14, 2010
  • Run Time: 720 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003C27X44
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,624 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

Additional scenes on the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, George Washington, Civil War, Transcontinental Railroad, the Statue of Liberty, Henry Ford and the Model T

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

With 12 chapters spread out over three discs and a total running time of more than nine hours (not including bonus material), the History Channel's America: The Story of Us is a sprawling primer on the history of the country and its people. Starting about 100 years after Columbus with the arrival of the earliest white settlers from across the Atlantic and finishing in the present day, the series can boast episodes devoted to major conflicts like the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II; the more gradual but still significant developments that helped shape the nation (like western expansion and the mass migration to major cities); and the various elements and forces (the discovery of oil; the growth of industry, engineering, and infrastructure; the development of the automobile and other means of mass transportation, and, of course, the accumulation of vast economic and military might) that combined to make the United States the world's dominant superpower in the 20th century and beyond. To the filmmakers' credit, the darker aspects of this history--slavery and racial strife, the treatment of Native Americans, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII--are not given short shrift. And while much of the material is dealt with in fairly broad strokes, there are also various enlightening details in each chapter. Who knew that George Washington established a network of spies who wrote notes in invisible ink in order to deceive the British, or that the most valuable currency for those who first explored the West was beaver pelts?

A combination of reenactments, photos, CGI, models, and other elements delivers a great deal of information here, along with frequent references to Americans' pioneer spirit, devotion to hard work, and belief that if you can dream it, you can do it. Yet this isn't an especially scholarly document. The events depicted, from the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere's midnight ride to the Alamo and the Gettysburg Address, not to mention more lurid tales like the Donner Party and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, should be familiar to those with even a cursory knowledge of US history. The emphasis on star power, be it the comments from a parade of talking heads including actors, musicians, politicians (President Barack Obama among them), athletes, soldiers, and so on, or the focus on charismatic historical figures like John Brown, Daniel Boone, and many others, reflects our celebrity-obsessed culture. And the constant hyperbole (narrator Liev Schreiber intones some variation of "What's about to happen will change things forever!" at least half a dozen times in the first episode alone) becomes tedious. Then again, considering the number of Americans who can't find their own country on a map, presenting the material like a dramatic TV show instead of textbook was a shrewd idea. --Sam Graham

Product Description

A riveting adventure of how America was invented, AMERICA THE STORY OF US focuses on the people, ideas and events that built our nation, covering 400 years of American history in the most extensive and in-depth television series ever produced by HISTORY. From the rigors of linking the continent by wagon trails to the transcontinental railway, the engineering of steel-structured buildings through to landing on the moon, this epic 12-part series is a grand cinematic vision of how this country was built. AMERICA THE STORY OF US brings this story to life firsthand through patriots, frontiersmen, slaves, abolitionists, Native Americans, pioneers, immigrants, entrepreneurs and inventors. From the revolutionary war that birthed the nation to the civil war that divided it, into the making of the modern world, America The Story of Us is an epic, dramatic, heartbreaking and triumphant journey that reminds us that American history truly belongs to we, the people.

Sharing their thoughts on the building of America, and what it means to be an American, are a world-class group of individuals including Tom Brokaw, Michael Douglas, Meryl Streep, Buzz Aldrin, Colin Powell, Donald Trump, John Legend, Melissa Etheridge, Brian Williams and more.

DISC 1 (Episodes 1-4): Rebels / Revolution / Westward / Division
DISC 2 (Episodes 5-8): Civil War / Heartland / Cities / Boom
DISC 3 (Episodes 9-12): Bust / WWII / Boomers / Millennium

BONUS FEATURES:
Disc 1: George Washington, American Revolution, Declaration of Independence
Disc 2: Civil War, Transcontinental Railroad, Statue of Liberty, Henry Ford and the Model T

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
310 of 338 people found the following review helpful
By Bridge
Format:DVD
I think all of the people complaining about the lack of academic level detail and scholarship in this series are missing the point. This 12 episode series is a really fantastic overview of American History. Oftentimes when we study history in school, through long, detailed books, over the course of several months, we tend to lose the forest for the trees. This medium of learning has it's place, watching this series you get a feel through a quick succession of stories, as to how America began and developed over the last two and a half centuries. What it lacks in "legitimate" scholarship it more than makes up for by it's production quality, compelling story-telling and entertainment. Another thing to note is the populist perspective of the series. Most history textbooks and academics focus too heavily on the actions of political leaders, but this series is truly about the "story of us" as indicated by its title. I was surprised to find that there was almost no discussion about the writing of the constitution, not much talk about the Presidents and the legislation they pushed through or the policies they enacted. Instead, the series incorporates a lot of anecdotes and stories of people and movements that shaped the course of this country, from the Chinese immigrants who built the railroads to the construction workers who built New York City, to historic figures like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Andrew Carnegie. If I were a school teacher I would show my students this entire series at the beginning of each year, if for nothing else but to pique their interest in history and what they're about to learn in greater detail over the course of the term.
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134 of 150 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable May 25, 2010
Format:DVD
First off, I am well aware that this documentary is not perfect. Having studied history, I feel that this documentary was lacking in some parts. Still, this series is solid and tight.

I learned a lot of neat trivia from this that I had not known before. This documentary feels to be geared more towards beginners, rather than scholars. If you're a history expert, you will find some parts lacking. (I am not a expert, but I do love history) but you will also most likely also learn some new things here. This would be a fun documentary for middle or high school students, as well as people who would like a basic (NOT a complete) overview of American history. I mean, it's impossible to give a complete overview of 400 years of history in twelve episodes, (less than twelve hours when you take out the commercials)

I can't say that I enjoyed all of the guest speakers, but some of them were rather relevant. Donald Trump talked about the Great Depression. Al Sharpton talked about the role of black people. And so on and so forth. Some of the guest speakers were better suited for their roles than others - I can't imagine why they would have Sheryl Crowe on this, but Rudy Guilliani was good. My biggest gripe was that they had P Diddy on there. COME ON. Why him? They also had the guy from Pawn Stars in the final episode, and I was excited to see him, but he didn't really contribute anything worthwhile, what he said didn't add anything to the documentary.

This is different from other History Channel documentaries in the past. It concentrates more on PEOPLE, not things/artifacts (this is why it's called The Story of *Us*) and the struggles, trials, and tribulations of a growing country.
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159 of 180 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but still enjoyable and informative July 4, 2010
By Smith
Format:DVD
This six-night miniseries is a quick tour of American history from the first English colonies in the New World to the present. To properly hit every important event, person and place throughout American history is far beyond the scope of a series of this length. Nevertheless, it is a good view of all the most important developments that explain how the United States became what it is, without glossing over the darker spots such as Indian removal and slavery.

Some omissions (such as skimming over almost all of World War I) and some factual "Yeah, but..." moments in an otherwise good series would have earned a 4-star rating, but the 3-star comes from some of the people that they had commenting in the series. While some, such as Michael Bloomberg, make sense in the context of the material (for instance, New York City during the Revolution), there is no good reason to have celebrities along the lines of Sheryl Crow, Margaret Cho or Michael Douglas appearing in what's supposed to be a serious look at history. If there had been more historians offering their views instead of celebrities, then I would have gladly given this series 4 stars. As it is, it is enjoyable yet flawed, and receives three.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This is an unbelievable series! From the time I sat down and watched the first episode until the end of the final episode this show kept me wanting more! The beauty of this show is that after each episode, I feel like I have learned everything that I didnt care to pay attention to in Middle School and High School! The story is perfect, and its done in an entertaining way. This is a great series for the entire family or anyone that wants a better understanding of american history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it. Great summaries of different eras in history
Love it. Great summaries of different eras in history.
Published 1 day ago by D. Frazee
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good introduction to time periods.
I use it in my history class to introduce different time periods, events, and people.
Published 4 days ago by krandal75
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching
I thought it was good, and the use of images and CGI allowed viewers to see things from the era in a way that was somewhat new. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Jonathan Roach
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good overview
Published 10 days ago by Wncjzpa
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history lesson
Excellent history lesson, but so much of the film footage was repeated, cheapened a really good compacted version of our history. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Frances A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
SECOND TIME I HAVE WATCHED IT BUT I LOVE IT
Published 10 days ago by Marsha Oakes
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
I watched it when it first came out on the history channel. It was pretty good. There was fairly left leaning, but it was still pretty good.
Published 11 days ago by Good Merican
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must see
Published 12 days ago by Veronica
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for entertainment and classes
Especially great for a lit teacher who likes to show snippets of history. It is very engaging. I use the 9-11 segment to show students who weren't even born then what happened.
Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series on what makes America what it is.
I just love this series. I am a history buff and this is a wonderful overview of American history. I have learned a lot from watching it. Read more
Published 12 days ago by kellysm76
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CC or Legend
Is this DVD captioned?
5 days ago by Lena T Austin |  See all 2 posts
Spanish subtitles?
anyone knows?
Oct 6, 2013 by Elmer Dubon |  See all 3 posts
Liev Schreiber
Do you know if they actually removed him? I found Danny Webb listed as an alias for Liev (which is how I came across this rather old post, searching the two terms together) and this title as the only title for which (so far) Danny Webb is used. The whole thing is baffling since another actor... Read More
May 22, 2013 by lost_grrl |  See all 2 posts
What suggestions can you offer for educational dvds for children?
Saw that noone has responded and just wondered if you found anything on your own you'd like to recommend? I have an almost 7yr old and we'd love to find some too!
Dec 16, 2010 by @homemom |  See all 2 posts
Blu Ray Widescreen?
I wondered about that too. I hope it is just a mistake when it lists an aspect ratio of 1.33.
May 10, 2010 by Dale |  See all 3 posts
what is it rated? G? PG? PG13? Be the first to reply
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