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The Century-America's Time (Boxed Set) [VHS] (1998)

Linda Hunt , Peter Jennings  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Linda Hunt, Peter Jennings, John Aaron, Harold Agnew, Stephen Ambrose
  • Producers: Brooke Runnette, Carrie Cook, Diana Frank, Jeanmarie Condon, Kenneth Levis
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 6
  • Studio: ABC News
  • VHS Release Date: March 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 720 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630529173X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,677 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Covering the entire 20th century in one video series is an ambitious project, but one that Peter Jennings and ABC News are up to. In The Century: America's Time, a 12-part documentary on six videotapes that is a companion to the book of the same name, Jennings guides us through a century of technology and advancement like no other. As he says in his introduction to episode 1, "Seeds of Change," "Unlike previous centuries where leadership was defined by royalty and other rulers, the 20th century more than any other was shaped by the will and actions of the common man." The series is a sweeping presentation of the United States of the 1900s and tries to encompass a mind-boggling amount of history. And while at moments the videos may leave you longing for more, Jennings does an excellent job of creating smooth segues between disparate pieces.

The first episode, for instance, begins with the influx of immigrants at the turn of the century and touches on Jim Crow laws, moving pictures, planes, Henry Ford, the sinking of the USS Maine, child labor, suffragettes, the Panama Canal, imperialism, and more, right up to the beginning of World War I. The archival footage is stunning and interviews with historians, veterans, journalists, POWs, politicians, authors, celebrities, and common people help bring the past to life again. Mickey Spillane discusses the speakeasies of the 1920s; Dennis Hopper talks about Easy Rider in the '60s; Tom Wolfe reads from The Bonfire of the Vanities for the episode on the '80s. Eudora Welty, E.L. Doctorow, Martin Scorsese, John Updike, Pat Buchanan, Oliver Stone, Stephen E. Ambrose, among many others, lend their voices to this documentary. Yet, despite the great names, at times the pictures and people are allowed to speak for themselves, without intrusive narration--the stark images of the Challenger explosion or the sad words of a political activist mourning the death of his partner to AIDS are more powerful because of it. This chronological tale (with the exception of the last episode, "Then and Now," which is arranged thematically) is an insightful and poignant reminder of all the marvels--and tragedies--of America in the 20th century. --Jenny Brown

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good as Documentaries Get! December 4, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This work is simply splendid. Viewing these videos in their chronological order will refresh your memory and cement your knowledge of the important events of your century. Jennings is marvelous: his voice is warm, intimate and authoritative. The writing is near poetry in places, as it weaves the events into a unified narrative. The pictures are superb in both content and technical quality. The original music score is wonderful, making the work highly dramatic and cinematic in places. A documentary commemorating a century of history should be great...and this one is. The next time someone tells you history is boring or that TV only delivers drivel to the masses, point them to this landmark work.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Video Survey of U.S. History, 20th Century August 11, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This video, The Century, America's Time, hosted by ABC
's Peter Jennings, served me well as a U.S. History high school teacher. The reason I liked it so much was because it brought to life in short, 10 minute summaries, key events of the twentieth century. Hosted by Peter Jennings, it had a much more contemporary feel to it than similar historical summaries. The narration was snappier and held the attention of my students better than let's say a PBS or other History channel type visual documentary. It supplement's any Twentieth Century U.S. History course because it capture's the emotional context that a text-book cannot reveal. I found my students had a much better grasp of the times when I supplemented the text with these visual snapshots of key events during the century. Because key events are broken down into 10-20 minute segments, it lends itself to the attention span of classroom students and instruction very well. Most documentaries go on for 45 minutes straight on one topic. This was extremely well done. If I had only 1 video series to pick from to capture the flavor of the twentieth century, this is the one I would buy!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best way to learn history! May 8, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Not only was I fascinated by the stories of each generation...I now have a gift that I know will be watched over and over again, for my parents, who have lived through most of this century (87 years)! Not an easy task!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for educators May 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I have showed several of the videos in this set to the students of the high school history class that I teach. My students seem to find the topics very interesting because they are not presented in the usual dry "documentary" fashion. Hint for teachers - The History Channel website (that also sells this video for twice the price) has a great study guide to go along with this set that includes vocabulary words and discussion topics!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great series. but... July 6, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
it's not available on dvd? In a few years, if I want to show my kids this documentary, I'm going to have to pull out a machine that is almost obsolete.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely enthralling view of history October 28, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
History can be an incredible story, and in this documentary it is told with gusto, excitement, and great poignancy. Using clever and creative editing, a captivating musical score, excellent archival footage, and Peter Jennings' masterful narration, The Century: America's Time is captivating from start to finish. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating documentary of a fascinating century April 6, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I love history. It fascinates me, but especially American history, especially the 20th century. This school year, I have taken a unique, new course at my school, titled: 20th Century World. As a teaching tool, my teacher has shown the movie for each decade whenever we've started that decade as our next unit. Even the kids who usually sleep through class sit and watched it with great interest. It makes you feel like you're there. For example, yesterday we watched the video for the 80s. Through the segment about AIDS and gays, my entire class was sitting there saying, "Ohmygosh, I never knew it was that bad." or "That is so sad." Through every decade, The Century: America's Time has offered a personal touch to every event, instead of making it boring. Every event mentioned on this documentary has affected our life today, and this documentary actually makes you think about how it has.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Video Set July 8, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This set is a great overview of some of the most important moments in America's history over the last 100 years. Unlike other similar video series, this one seems to take a look at the larger picture of American history, focusing and piecing together many periods of time and showing how they all interconnect and lead to the next rather than going into great depth on specific events. My only disappointment was that there was not more to watch, as I would have loved to have seen more of the great video clips and images that are part of this series. Some of the video shown is amazing, and really shows the emotion of these moments and brings them more fully to life. Highly recommended, and a great learning tool for those who may initially be uninterested in history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
No problems, just what we wanted!
Published 2 months ago by Tom Seib
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a biography - more like anti-American propaganda
If I could give it no stars, I would. Very biased account, blaming the US for everything. Skipped over WWI, blamed the Brits for bombing Germany in WWII (with no mention of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars ( Great series for history buffs wanting to see the creation ...
Wish these were on dvd, use this series in my history classes. Found dvds online but they are different from the vhs, some segments similiar but was dispointed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by NE
5.0 out of 5 stars Best one i ever seen
I love how this shows us the 20th Century American History. I watch it some times once a week. That whens I have done.
Published 8 months ago by carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Great teaching tool!
Excellent teaching tool for US History classes. Very engaging. Students retain so much more and have a much better understand of events through these episodes. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Teacher's companion
Given students' proclivity toward visual input, "The Century: America's Time" makes for an ideal presentation of US history in the 20th century. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Walt Gangwere
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the tape cassettes was broken
Cassette number 4 which is the one about the 60's was broken and will not play. I'm trying now to move the tape to another cassette.
Published 20 months ago by Critchell
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad to get this set
I tried recording this series when it was on tv but didn't get it all and also had to deal with commercials. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Judith A. Bosch
5.0 out of 5 stars The Century - America's Time
This has got to be the best of the best documentary I have seen put together historically. I show it to my students every year as they write their research papers about something... Read more
Published on October 8, 2012 by Faith Groves
5.0 out of 5 stars The Century
This is a very informative collection of videos of the United States. It works well in a U.S. History classroom. Read more
Published on June 8, 2012 by janet
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Topic From this Discussion
DVD of this set?
I hope this is put on DVD soon. This morning, while using it with my class, the first episode tape broke.
Mar 6, 2007 by Danny J. York |  See all 7 posts
Why no DVD?
Apr 1, 2014 by Mr. Ronald L. Cherry |  See all 2 posts
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