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How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 1

4.7 out of 5 stars 306 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

When the founding fathers drew the first map of America, they confronted many of the same challenges that unite and divide us today. HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES explores how our borders evolved--and continue to change--in response to religion, transportation, communication, politics, culture clashes and even Mother Nature. This is no textbook-style documentary series. Local experts and everyday folks lead host Brian Unger, a journalist and former Daily Show correspondent, to insights about some of America s most baffling questions. How are flying fish threatening to re-draw the shape of Illinois? What does the use of cell phones by Pennsylvania s Amish have to do with the shape of their state? How is the phrase sold down the river linked to the shape of what might be our 51st state? Why did the invention of air conditioning change how America picks its Presidents? Unger uncovers the answers, hidden in our map.

BONUS FEATURES: Feature-length HISTORY Special How The States Got Their Shapes

DISC 1: A River Runs Through It / The Great Plains, Trains, & Automobiles / Force of Nature / State of Rebellion

DISC 2: Living on the Edge / Use it Or Lose It / Church and States / A Boom With A View

DISC 3: Culture Clash / Mouthing Off

DISC 4: Bonus Special: How the States Got Their Shapes

Special Features

Feature-length HISTORY Special How The States Got Their Shapes

DISC 1: A River Runs Through It / The Great Plains, Trains, & Automobiles / Force of Nature / State of Rebellion

DISC 2: Living on the Edge / Use it Or Lose It / Church and States / A Boom With A View

DISC 3: Culture Clash / Mouthing Off

DISC 4: Bonus Special: How the States Got Their Shapes

Product Details

  • Actors: Brian Unger
  • Directors: Half Yard Productions
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 2011
  • Run Time: 420 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ELVCDY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,951 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jim Clark on March 14, 2012
Format: DVD
By Jim Clark, publisher Lee County Courier, Tupelo, MS

You probably have never heard of the state of Jefferson. It may not exist on paper but it certainly rests in the minds and hearts of many who no longer call themselves Northern Californians. In 1941, some counties in the area ceremonially seceded. What stopped the real movement was America's entry into World War II, but the notion has been rekindled in recent years.
That's just one of the many interesting topics covered
the recently released DVD set, How the States Got Their Shapes.
The television series that airs on the History channel and is based on Mark Stein's book, How the States Got Their Shapes. It's hosted by Brian Unger, who was an original correspondent and producer on The Daily Show, from 1996-99. Comedy and history actually go together.
One state border runs right through the middle of a business, a bar (where it's legal to sell alcohol) and a restaurant (where it's not).
A lot of states got their shapes from rivers, but all kinds of things determined borders from bar fights, to guns, to churches and from too much water, or not enough.
One segment follows accents which was particularly entertaining. It turns out that speech coaches are most frequently hired by actors who want to not have any kind of accent.
The show started as a single two-hour special which first aired in April 2010, but returned as a regular series of one-hour shows starting in May 2011.
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Pretty good series that is shown on the History Channel. The humor really helps. More in line with what the History Channel should be doing to help folks get alittle geography which the younger folks probably didn't get much of in School.
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So you think graft and corruption are brand-new products of modern society? Let Brian Unger lead you around this wonderful nation of ours and you will discover two things that shaped the states: 1) Water...or the lack of it. 2) Money...and a willingness to share it with some esteemed lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Unger takes us from coast to coast and border to border; he discovers the often seamy goings on that gave our states their individual shapes. He interviews the citizens, drives the highways, rows on the lakes and eats lots of barbecue! He discovers that there are little islands of rebels who have declared their independence from this great land of ours, and they are only partially kidding!

Colorful, scenic, interesting and entertaining, this fascinating DVD from Amazon.com is a painless way to get a little more insight into how this amazing nation grew.
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Format: DVD
I absolutely love this show. It is definitely one of my favorites ever. If you love history & geography, you will most assuredly love this show. If you don't like history or geography, this series will most likely change your mind.

The facts are fascinating. I love American history and this presents it in a way that is easy to absorb and fun to watch.

The graphics in the show are fabulous. I love it when they do the "flyovers" of the country, and how they use the US map for illustrations by switching it around or re-sizing it (sounds confusing until you see the show). The show definitely has a contemporary, fun feel to it.

Brian Unger is the perfect host for this show. He is witty, hilarious and does a fabulous job of presenting the facts in an interesting way. I know that has a lot to do with the writing, etc., but Unger adds his own flair to the show and it wouldn't be the same without it. A boring host can kill a great show quickly.

I REALLY hope that since this DVD set says "Season One" that it means they are planning on future seasons!
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This review is by "The Wife of Mike":
We love this show because it is entertaining, educational and funny. I'm not somebody who is interested in history or would ever think to watch the history channel but I was at a friend's house and this show was on TV. They happened to be covering my home state and I was hooked. I told my Husband about the show (he is from a different state) and we decided to order season one DVD set. We enjoy watching the show and especially when they interview random people (sort of like Jay Leno's "Jay walking"). Of course they put the people on who give the most ridiculous answers but that adds to the humor. Brian Unger does a great job keeping History interesting. I hope that they continue into more seasons!
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If I remember correctly as of this moment, there are only three seasons or there were only three seasons to this particular show on the history channel and I really only got through the first one, because I've always actually been curious about that question myself.

After watching the first season, I thought I had wanted to get this for my dad sometime in the future and his 67th birthday, was last month.

My dad is a little bit of a connoisseur of history, just a little bit. He's always talked about Wyatt Earp, and tombstone, and different things about the New England states where my mom and him came from, back from in Massachusetts.

I thought this would be great for letting him know a little bit more history about this country in a hole.

He remembered me bringing up that I wanted to get it for him someday down the road, and he's already watched a few episodes and found it very interesting and likes it a lot.

Different things from gold, to government out reach, to little differences between, the Hatfields and McCoy's, all came into consideration when the states eventually did get their shapes.

I loved it.
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