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Ultimate Guide to the Presidents
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Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference in this new production is to compare it to an earlier award-winning series produced in 2005 for the History Channel entitled simply "The Presidents" since they appear to cover the same material.
Of course both series start with George Washington. The 2005 documentary begins by telling us interesting little facts about George Washington, the man. We learn he loved to dance the minuet and collect American landscape paintings. He enjoyed interior decoration, personally decorating the interiors of his home at Mount Vernon. He also dabbled in fashion design and designed various military uniforms. Thomas Jefferson said he was the best horseman he had ever known and Washington's white horse was named Nelson.
We learn Washington was considered a good judge of character and not someone who simply wanted "yes men" advisors. He selected the first cabinet and it was composed of really talented and experienced men including Thomas Jefferson who served as Secretary of State and Alexander Hamilton who became the first Secretary of the Treasury.Read more ›
One of the most interesting revelations is that the Founding Fathers originally regarded the office of President as administrative, merely to rubber-stamp legislation passed by Congress. Washington didn't want the job, but when he finally accepted it, he made the office more powerful than envisioned, setting a number of precedents, including appointing a Cabinet.
The best aspect of the series is the way the various presidents are personalized. We get to see how each responded differently to criticism, crises, and public outcry in a job that eventually came to be labeled the most powerful position in the world.
Bonus material includes over 30 minutes of footage never before seen on TV.
The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents is essentially a remake and update of History's previous presidential presentation from 2005. Like the original, this series sets out to look at every person that has been president. Through quick-paced editing interspersed with interviews from historians, each president is looked at. This includes some of their personality traits and the major events that occurred during their administrations.
The series does a decent job of covering the major events without too much detail. After all, even throughout eight forty-five minute episodes, only so much can be explained. The fast pace of the show means that it never gets boring.
My two disappointments with the series comes with their coverage of two different eras. The series mostly glosses over a few Gilded Age presidents, such as Rutherford Hayes and Benjamin Harrison, and basically writes them off as "weak executives." It would have been nice to see a mention of even the rather minor accomplishments of these men such as civil service reform under Chester Arthur. The other concerns the four most recent presidents. All four are given scant coverage and it almost seems like the modern era was tacked on the end of the last episode as an afterthought. This is particularly ironic when it is considered that their portraits adorn the cover of this DVD set.
In conclusion, I found this to be an interesting, if only sometimes incomplete, look at the personalities and accomplishments of the forty-four Presidents of the United States. I would recommend this to those interested in presidents or American history.
Nonetheless, this series is better than the one in 2005 (The Presidents) in that it covers major developments in American society such as the building of railroads, population growth and household innovations as well as changes to the White House and its staff.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the few historical documentaries that I've enjoyed that avoided modern political bias. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mike Tarrani
Great documentary miniseries that has great facts. Although I like an early miniseries on the presidents the History Channel did before this called The Presidents. Read morePublished 8 months ago by DFMhistory
After having recently finished a quest of sorts to read a biography of each President in United States history, I decided to watch this documentary as a sort of "review"... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Zachary Koenig
I liked it very much until the final chapter! It sort of did a run through of the Presidencies of George H.W. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Nick