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American Experience: The Presidents


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American Experience: The Presidents + The Men Who Built America + The Presidents
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents THE PRESIDENTS: eleven 20th century biographies that offer an intimate and compelling look at the men who have defined and re-defined the modern presidency and who led the country through some of the most turbulent and consequential moments in our history.

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It's hard to imagine a more exhaustive study of the American presidency, or at least a portion of it, than American Experience: The Presidents. This boxed set (the titles have also been released separately) includes 17 discs and a nearly 39-hour running time, combining voice-over narration, photos, film, a few reenactments, music, and interviews with historians, family members, and others to create very detailed and edifying portraits of just 11 chief executives (a mere 25 percent of the total). Most buyers will likely already have at least a working knowledge of those elected in the past 50 years or so: John F. Kennedy, his one term cut tragically short, leaving more questions about his legacy asked than answered; Lyndon Johnson, whose good works were obscured by the blame he took for escalating and prolonging the Vietnam War; Richard Nixon, forever remembered as the only president forced to resign while in office; Jimmy Carter, who at best can be seen as somewhat out of his depth in the job; the immensely popular Ronald Reagan, still used as a touchstone by Republican candidates of every stripe; George H.W. Bush, who oversaw the Gulf War but failed to win a second term after backtracking on his pledge not to raise taxes; and Bill Clinton, a brilliant mind and naturally gifted, inspiring politician who seemed bent on self-destruction. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, too, will be familiar to most; the only president to be elected four times, the charming, patrician FDR became one of American history's greatest leaders, shepherding the country out of the Depression and through most of World War II despite having been crippled by polio at age 39.

That leaves three presidents about whom viewers, especially younger ones, might know considerably less, if only because they were in office well before television became the dominant medium. Theodore Roosevelt (FDR's distant cousin), a vice president who took over when President William McKinley was shot in 1901, was confident, exuberant, and aggressive, overcoming severe childhood asthma to become a wildlife expert and devoted conservationist, a prolific author, a war hero, and president in his early 40s; a genuine reformer, he stood up to America's über-rich, championed the building of the Panama Canal, and coined phrases like "the bully pulpit" and "speak softly and carry a big stick." Woodrow Wilson, elected in 1912, was a Southerner whose dyslexia, a century before it was diagnosed as such, meant that at age 10 he still couldn't read; as president, his agenda ranged from establishing an eight-hour work day and a ban on child labor to an obsession with establishing a "new world order" that would spread democracy and put an end to war after the horrors of World War I. Finally, there's Harry Truman, a haberdasher from Missouri with a high school education who was almost completely unknown when FDR died less than three months into his fourth term (Truman's first as VP); although he didn't particularly want the job, Truman's eventful presidency included the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan, the founding of the United Nations, the Korean War, and the start of the Cold War. --Sam Graham


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 17
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (481 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0081NAUOO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,301 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting and in depth series.
catwoman
This series has been so fun to watch that I can't wait to see the next episode.
P. J. Buchanan
Great way to learn about the history of our past Presidents.
pat elliott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 30, 2012
Format: DVD
This collection of 17 DVDS (grouped in 3 DVD cases in a slipcase) is an updated version of the 2008 PBS Home Video set, which only went through President George H.W. Bush to include the addition of the program on President Bill Clinton. (To my knowledge there were no American Experience documentaries on the later President Bush - W - and President Obama is just ending his first term.).

The earliest subject is Theodore Roosevelt ( a program originally aired in 1998 along with 5 of the others) and now covers 11 consecutive Presidents (with one exception - Eisenhower! - will they ever get around to him?) Though packaged together until the "umbrella title" of "American Experience" these show were produced and directed by different people but all appear to be well balanced and objective. I've seen a few of these stories on either TV broadcast or on individual volumes over the years. There is almost 39 hours (!) of material in this set, so I'm still working my way through.

But, based on what I've seen so far I can highly recommend this collection (with a significant reduction in "per President" cost) to any history or political junkie and it certainly is essential for any media library.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hopefull on September 12, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
We watched all episodes of this series because we are interested in American History, especially in the Presidents that have led our nation, their early formative years, the circumstances by which each became president and the events of the times during which they were in office. All presidents in this series were in the 20th century but not all presidents, are presented. Notably absent are, TR, Wilson, Hoover, Eisenhower and Kennedy, all of which would have brought continuity to the series. And even if history for you starts with FDR, including Eisenhower and Kennedy would have improved the series.

While this series, sponsored by PBS, attempts to be truthful and non-biased (not really, I'm just saying that to be fair), and are reasonably so on most of the presidents, the episodes on Carter and Reagan are shamefully biased and do not tell a tale truthful to history as I recall it, having actually lived during those time. Never-the-less, the episodes on FDR and Johnson are very insightful and reveal how the governance of especially these two presidents have done so much to shape the current government, the programs and the laws, and the agencies we now live with, or under. So take it this series as educational and let it spur you on to research and discover more about each of these leaders of the U.S.A.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John W. Pusey on October 3, 2012
I haven't even finished the series yet, but I am learning so much through the first couple of episodes. The videos provide great information on the successes, failures, qualities and flaw of former POTUSes.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 21, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
These programs about our Presidents have been extremely informative.
Should be required as part of all history classes.
Well worth the time.
Answer all the questions about how as a nation we evolved into today's America!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roger albright on January 4, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I think that I would listen to David McCullough read the phone book. I've only made it through FDR and part of Truman, but looking forward to the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P F on September 19, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Watched the 3 episodes on Roosevelt and was compelled to keep watching. The story was well told and still rings with depth on the issues of the presidency and power and the man with polio who kept on trying to walk until the day he died. Polio would be mostly cured as a all too common by Jonas Salk and the other giants by 1955 ten years after FDR died... That can do spirit in the darkest days of the depression and then WW ll! He was a Leader!
PF
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mud on February 21, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I would enjoy the series much, much more if it included ALL presidents! Is it available? I would totally watch it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Elsenpeter on February 10, 2013
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I thought the program was done in excellent taste and respect to all of the presidents the show featured, however I would like to see the program continue to do the entire list of presidents in order of their presidency. It definately left me wanting more to see.
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American Experience: The Presidents
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