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120 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Men who built America
I was browsing the channels when I happened across "Men who built America" on the History channel and I figured it was just a documentary and to my surprise it is more like a mini-series with action and plots. I was entirely taken in with the story line and am I am buying the DVD to see the parts that I missed. Well worth the cost of the DVD
Published 22 months ago by Dallas D. Deboer

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261 of 285 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but some historical details are distorted
I generally enjoyed the show and how it ties together the stories of the various robber barons of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. But I was kind of irked at how some of the historical details were distorted. For instance, they got the whole Homestead strike/battle wrong. If you just watched the show you would think that the Pinkertons just walked up to the striking...
Published 22 months ago by Gluskabe


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars History Rewritten, July 16, 2013
This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
[[ASIN:B00A2XTHYU The Men Who Built America] Please Please Please find other more accurate history of American Industry. I can't believe so many people are accepting this series as truth. Why don't people look into other sources about the Industrial Age instead of just accepting this one? Also, I don't understand the need to rewrite history. Yes, It is a very well produced series. It looks great. Great cinematography and effects. The attached article explains some of the shortcomings of this mini-series but even that doesn't hit all the inaccuracies. Save your money. There are other more accurate DVD biographies of these men available. [...]
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish the history was better, January 23, 2013
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I have been studying business history for 50 years. I was excited to hear about this series and eager to recieve the blu-ray, which arrived today.
I appreciate that some of these men are getting more attention, and a dramatic treatment.
However there are too many historical distortions.
If Fisk and Gould were "stuck in middle management" at the Erie, how could they water the stock?
And no mention of Daniel Drew, a key part of the Erie War.
The program implies that the Commodore was THE controller of the US railroad industry, and generally savaged his competition. When in fact his empire was always second fiddle to the Pennsylvania Railroad, the largest and most profitable of the big eastern lines.
I realize some simplification may be required to fit TV time constraints, but hyperbole is not required.
Maybe use some of the time taken to recap prior shows to straighten out the history?
Lastly, the presence of Donald Trump, Donny Deutsch, Ted Turner, Jack Welch, and others borders on the bizarre.
While some of these people are interesting in themselves, there is no evidence of their history licks.
Read Welch's book and you would think GE began with him, or at most with his predecessor, not the great pioneering CEO Charles Coffin.
Even the much better historian talking heads interrupt the flow of the dramatization.
If I just want good acting and inspiration, I might as well go back to classics like Young Tom Edison, the old Alexander Graham Bell movie, Pittsburgh with John Wayne, or Union Pacific.
I really wish I had loved this program.
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy Writing at Best...Propaganda at Worst, December 28, 2012
This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
History Channel's, "The Men Who Built America" (no women?), is entertaining TV viewing. But a must-have for history and documentary buffs, it's not. If one is considering purchasing this series, there are some glaring problems to be aware of.

One thing about the series that bothers me immensely are the multiple story summaries that occur after what would be the commercial breaks when it aired on commercial cable TV.

Granted, episode summaries after commercial breaks are common in TV programs. They're there mainly for viewers who are just tuning in. The problem that this creates for a show that is purchased and watched in its entirety, or an episode at a time, is that the viewer is bombarded with these summaries every ten minutes.

This series is even worse than most. It seems that every summary is at least a minute or two long and doesn't just rehash what's been viewed so far in the current episode, but goes over what has happened up to that point in the entire series. While watching, I began to suspect that in the final episode, these summaries would be so long that they would need their own episode. Would it have cost the producers so much to edit these pieces out for the purchasing customer? I suppose they were afraid that if they did, each episode would only be ten minutes long.

Another problem was in the episode about Andrew Carnegie, although it occurred in any episode that the narrator, Campbell Scott, mentioned Carnegie. Every single expert interviewed in the show pronounced Carnegie properly, the way Carnegie himself pronounced it, Car-né-gie. But Scott pronounced it each and every time, Cár-ne-gie. Even the actors pronounced it properly!

It may sound like nit-picking to many, but these kind of historical inaccuracies, and there are others, make history buffs like myself cringe. I don't blame the narrator for this faux pas. The fault lies with the producers who were too lazy to correct such a glaring inconsistency.

This kind of error betrays the real purpose of this so-called documentary. Not to truly educate while entertaining, but to simply entertain. Not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's what you're looking for in a television program. But if you're looking for an historically accurate documentary, look elsewhere.

In the episode about electricity, the writers didn't even bother to get the scientific facts right. Part of the story was about the Niagara Power Company trying to decide which kind of electricity they would produce, AC or DC. The narrator stated that they hadn't decided which system, AC or DC, would POWER their generators! This ridiculous assertion was repeated later in the same episode.

Now, I don't have a huge understanding about electricity, but even I know that it's the WATER that powers the generators and the system, AC or DC, which is used to transmit the electricity generated by the power plant. This laughable mistake made it almost impossible for me to watch the rest of the series with any faith that anything presented in it had any accuracy at all.

I must say, minus the incessant reminders of what has preceded, and the occasional error in basic physics, the series is quite entertaining. The "recre-actors" are above average in their abilities as thespians, and the production values rank right up there with the best Hollywood has to offer. Michael Bay himself couldn't have created a more harrowing dam bursting scene. But then, that's the whole problem with shows like these, for people like me, who are looking for more than entertainment value. Or at least, the proper pronunciation of one of the major players' name.

Now I'll address a serious problem with the series that is very subtle, insidious and reaks of an agenda. Every single one of these powerful and rich men are somehow made out to look evil. The producers do everything except dress the main characters in Darth Vader's cloak and cowl, and having them speak in deep voices with asthmatic breathing. If I saw one more scene of Rockefeller walking toward the camera in slow motion with his long overcoat blowing out behind him, I was going to throw a lit bottle of kerosene at my TV!

The competition for these men don't just inspire innovation, no, the competition must be destroyed by any means necessary. Nothing is ever accomplished or created because of the sheer genius of these men, or the wish to better society. It's all done with one motivation...to destroy the other guy.

How dare these men innovate ways to save or make more money thus taking it out of the hands of the other guy. The innovations created, such as the pipelines that facilitated a more efficient way to move oil across the country, or the first bridge to span the Mississippi River, are not celebrated, but presented as the deeds of these evil villains to get revenge on the other guy for daring to make more money.

I'm not naive. I know there was a lot of that. But there's a strong emphasis in this series on the unethical, immoral, illegal methods these men used to beat the life out of each other. Absolutely nothing is done out of pure altruism. There's always a dark ulterior motive. Even when, after the flood, Carnegie donates millions of dollars to rebuild the town, it's only done to resuscitate his image.

I doubt if the producers set out to make this a hit piece on these pioneers of industry. It's more dangerous and less apparent to the viewer than that. The ideals and beliefs just seep into the script without there being a conscience effort to do so. This makes it far less obvious and far more effective. It's the best kind of propaganda.

Unfortunately, the History Channel has suffered lately with what I'll call, lowest-common-denominatoritis. It's the same affliction that has affected all the other so-called niche cable channels. The glut of reality programming is produced as a result of this disease. I can't even begin to tell you what most of the programs that air on History have to do with history, except for the fact that when they're done, they're history. Except, of course, until they're rerun.

I suppose every now and then, they have to produce programming such as The Men..., to remind themselves what channel they work for. Remember when TLC was actually The Learning Channel? Who, besides old-timers like myself, knows that A&E stands for Arts and Entertainment? No, children, it doesn't stand for Anything and Everything. Well, maybe now it does.

I guess there will have to be new niche cable channels, perhaps, The REAL History Channel, The REAL Learning Channel, The REAL Discovery Channel, etc. One can hope.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, April 28, 2013
By 
J. Marconi "amazonian" (Cincinnati, Oh United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
What I never knew and more. What an enormus undertaking by those men. They built Homes and buildings (The Grand Central Station ) which are still standing today and still in use.
What a painless way to learn about the building of the USA.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History made interesting!, November 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
In school I dreaded history... It was boring... This series on history channel made it exciting! I have been riveted to the couch for days now... Can't get enough! Want my children to grow up to embrace our history... This series will open the door to a desire to learn more... Who would have guessed how many people were intertwined that are well known today but got their starts with other big names... Wow! You will be blown away at the effort made to put you back in time with the sets, accents etc... Just amazing!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Men Who Built America, May 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
Great way to learn about historical events. Great mini series. Well made!
Very interesting the way that they transport you to the actual situation of each event the historic events arround each of the mens who build America.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Television at its finest!, July 19, 2013
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
I was completely enthralled with this PBS series. It gives a history of the industrialization of America in a fresh and captivating fashion which is well cast and well acted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Done, July 16, 2013
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
This is what I expect from the History Channel--a very insightful, educational, well-made production. Our family loves it, and I've been recommending it to friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's a pretty obvious form or progressive liberal propaganda, July 29, 2014
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This review is from: The Men Who Built America [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is a biased, anti-business telling of US history. It's a pretty obvious form or progressive liberal propaganda. I would not let my kids watch such a distorted telling of our history. I've read scholarly biographies on almost all the central characters and they are telling the story they want to tell with a very selective use of the facts. The misrepresentation is greatest with JP Morgan and his restructuring of failing industries to prevent complete monopoly and instead establish sustainable duopolies. They try to make all the men sound like robber barons in constant conflict with each other. They don't explain how the economics of their industries created many of the circumstances. This is a comic book version of US history clearly produced with a political agenda by someone that doesn't want Americans to understand their actual history as it relates to business and finance.
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53 of 76 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Men Who Built America-Inacurate with an agenda, January 18, 2013
This review is from: The Men Who Built America (DVD)
I happened to watch the series "The Men Who Built America" on one of the so called "learning channels". Now, while shopping for a few more books, I happened upon the sale of the DVD "The Men Who Built America". I decided to write a review but first I read the reviews already made and was sadly disappointed in the reviews given by most people about the series. Most gave the series high marks but the few who actually know their history were not so generous. As usual people who do not read, study, or learn, get their education from Hollywood and other movie makers by these visual stories. The facts in this series however, were often at least distorted and mostly outright inaccurate and wrong. I give the series only two stars only for entertainment value. While the series is being shown they cut away to commentary by heirs, or business people about the subject being shown. The commentary (by some who were heirs) was unkind to say the least. The commentary by a Rockefeller heir slammed their ancestor John D., saying "they are not proud of the way he earned their money" yet the heirs don't give up what they inherited, they only manage the great endowments that was left to humanity by their ancestors . The heirs were often pure hypocrites like the Rockefeller heirs were in their commentary. The other commentators (big business leaders of today) took the angle that was trying to be portrayed-personal greed (nothing of their great creations or contributions to the advancement of society) and they played along with it while feeding their own egos. They call these great men "Robber Barons" but if you read what they did and what they accomplished they were truly remarkable men; all with the same flaws we all have but few if any were criminal in their intent even by today's standards. The series depicted these men(most of whom were great and behaved like everyone else of that time, (many behaved much more honorably than most others of the time) as greedy whose ambition was only to become wealthier than the other achievers. Nothing was mentioned about Rockefeller founding an institute for infectious disease, the Spellman Seminary to educate freed women slaves and their daughters, or of the founding of The University of Chicago, or of Morgan bailing out the USA, or of Vanderbilt building a steamship line and a route to the Pacific through Nicaragua prior to the construction of the Panama canal while dealing with the elimination of an American terrorist who, by a coup d'etat, took control of the government of Nicaragua. Or of the Warburgs who were involved in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles prior to WWII and of Paul Warburg and JP Morgan helping to create Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Central Bank. I suggest reading the books sold here at Amazon written by Ron Chernow: "Titan", "The Warburgs", "The House of Morgan" and the book "Vanderbilt" written by T.J. Stiles. These books are extremely well researched, inexpensive, long (700-800 pages which is great) and some of the best books I've ever read. They are packed with real history and told in a way that you can almost smell the odors in the air at the time, and feel the constant mud stuck to your shoes at the time. But, if you just want to be effortlessly entertained and care not about knowledge or true history, then just put your mind in neutral, play the DVD, and float along like a jelly fish in whatever direction that the cheapish series wants to take you. Just my take.
Dave Morais
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The Men Who Built America [Blu-ray]
The Men Who Built America [Blu-ray] by Men Who Built America (Blu-ray - 2013)
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