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American Experience

IMDB Logo8.5/10
  Rated: 7+ (TV-PG)1988 - Present31 Seasons,Returning: Date TBAOn:    Tags:  

TV's most-watched history series, brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today.American Experience has one or more episodes streaming with subscription on Netflix, streaming with subscription on Prime Video, free on PBS, and 5 others. It's a biography and documentary show with 390 episodes over 31 seasons. American Experience is still airing with no announced date for the next episode or season. It has a high IMDb audience rating of 8.5 (1,313 votes).

Where to Watch American Experience

Reelgood Watch Guide

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The Streamability Score factors in where something can be watched at a given moment and weighs it against the popularity and cost of the available streaming services. The higher the score, the easier it is to stream for the largest number of people.
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30 episodes (8%) are available to watch free online (PBS).

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47 episodes (12%) are available to stream on a popular subscription service (Netflix & Prime Video).

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95 episodes (24%) are available to rent or buy from $1.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play, Prime Video & 3 others).

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Not available to stream on a TV everywhere service.

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The Reelgood Score takes into account audience and critics scores from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, recent popularity, and other quality markers like genres or cast & crew to help you find what to watch. The higher the score, the better the movie or show.
#1,069 Ranked TV Show

#27 Ranked in Biography TV

#56 Ranked in Science TV

#192 Ranked in TV on Prime Video

American Experience has a high IMDb audience rating of 8.5 (1,313 votes). The show is popular with Reelgood users lately.

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390 Total Episodes of American Experience Where to stream every episode from all 31 seasons of American Experience. Filter these episodes by what's available to watch free or on your streaming services using the tabs above.

Season 1

Prime Video | Rent or Buy
Season 01, Episode 01 FDR (Part 1)

S01 E01

Oct 12, 1994
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FDR (Part 1) Oct 12, 1994 Polio at age 39, president at age 50. Explore the public and private life of a determined man who steered this country through two monumental crises: the Depression and World War II. FDR served as president longer than any other, and his legacy still shapes our understanding of the role of government and the presidency. A film by award winning filmmaker David Grubin. This is the first of four parts.

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Season 01, Episode 01 The Great San Francisco Earthquake

S01 E01

Oct 5, 1988
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The Great San Francisco Earthquake Oct 5, 1988 From Enrico Caruso to the ordinary San Franciscan, this film presents vivid memories of those trapped in the terrifying event of 1906. Four hundred eighty square blocks were reduced to rubble; thousands were killed, tens of thousands left homeless. Then the heroic struggle to rebuild a city from the ashes began.

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Season 01, Episode 02 FDR (Part 2)

S01 E02

Oct 12, 1994
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FDR (Part 2) Oct 12, 1994 Polio at age 39, president at age 50. Explore the public and private life of a determined man who steered this country through two monumental crises: the Depression and World War II. FDR served as president longer than any other, and his legacy still shapes our understanding of the role of government and the presidency. A film by award winning filmmaker David Grubin. This is the second of four parts.

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Season 01, Episode 02 Radio Bikini

S01 E02

Oct 12, 1988
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Radio Bikini Oct 12, 1988 While the U.N. debated strategies for control of atomic energy, the U.S. Navy was preparing two highly-publicized nuclear tests. Seven hundred fifty cameras were shipped to Bikini to be used for a major propaganda film. Bikinians had no say about turning their idyllic island into an atomic test site. Forty years later, their home would still be too contaminated to support human life.

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Season 01, Episode 03 FDR (Part 3)

S01 E03

Oct 13, 1994
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FDR (Part 3) Oct 13, 1994 Polio at age 39, president at age 50. Explore the public and private life of a determined man who steered this country through two monumental crises: the Depression and World War II. FDR served as president longer than any other, and his legacy still shapes our understanding of the role of government and the presidency. A film by award winning filmmaker David Grubin. This is the third of four parts.

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Season 01, Episode 03 Indians, Outlaws and Angie Debo

S01 E03

Oct 19, 1988
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Indians, Outlaws and Angie Debo Oct 19, 1988 As a child in 1899, Angie Debo was taken to Oklahoma in a covered wagon. She would become her state's most controversial historian -- her career threatened when she uncovered a cache of documents which proved a widespread conspiracy to cheat Native Americans out of oil-rich lands.

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Season 01, Episode 04 Eric Sevareid's Not So Wild A Dream

S01 E04

Oct 26, 1988
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Eric Sevareid's Not So Wild A Dream Oct 26, 1988 A touching memoir beginning with life in a small Minnesota town and taking us through a young man's early days as pacifist. Reporting on the rise of fascism in Europe, Sevareid, as a young CBS reporter, would change his belief. Based on Sevareid's best-selling book of the same title.

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Season 2

Season 02, Episode 01 The Great Air Race of 1924

S02 E01

Oct 4, 1989
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The Great Air Race of 1924 Oct 4, 1989 The first around-the-world air race, sponsored by the Army Air Service to prove that the airplane had a commercial future, was the ultimate test of man and machine. Four pilots took off in single-engine, open-cockpit planes; 175 days later, two remaining pilots would land where they'd begun, in Seattle.

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Season 02, Episode 02 Demon Rum

S02 E02

Oct 11, 1989
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Demon Rum Oct 11, 1989 Prohibition's effect on Detroit, Michigan, the first major American city to "go dry," where smuggling liquor across the Canadian border became the second largest indusry in town. A humorous, wild tale related by residents who lived through this national experiment which lasted from 1920 to 1933.

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Season 02, Episode 03 A Family Gathering

S02 E03

Oct 18, 1989
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A Family Gathering Oct 18, 1989 Lise Yasui explores three generations of her Japanese-American family - from their immigration to Oregon in the early 1900s through their imprisonment in internment camps during World War Two.

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Season 02, Episode 04 Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice

S02 E04

Oct 21, 1989
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Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice Oct 21, 1989 Born into slavery, she became a journalist and newspaper owner in Memphis, and was radicalized following the lynching of three friends. Her crusade against lynching led to death threats, but she bravely continued for the rest of her life to call for an end to sexism and racism.

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Season 02, Episode 05 The Great War: 1918

S02 E05

Nov 1, 1989
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The Great War: 1918 Nov 1, 1989 All lingering 19th-century notions of the romance of battle were replaced by the terrible reality of 20th-century mechanized warfare. At Verdun, the French lost 300,000 men; at the Somme, the English lost one million. Against this setting, America reluctantly sent its boys to fight. The wrenching and heroic accounts of U.S. soldiers and nurses who served in the closing battles of the bloodiest war of the century.

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Season 02, Episode 06 Battle for Wilderness

S02 E06

Nov 8, 1989
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Battle for Wilderness Nov 8, 1989 A profile of an early environmental dispute over the construction of a dam in California after the earthquake of 1906.

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Season 02, Episode 07 Adam Clayton Powell

S02 E07

Nov 15, 1989
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Adam Clayton Powell Nov 15, 1989 Affluent, handsome, light-skinned and blond, he could pass for white. But his message about "economics and jobs" would make him one of the most charismatic black leaders in the 20th century. A U.S. Representative for 25 years, he pushed through social legislation, but his relish for money and fast living eventually led him to political ruin.

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Season 3

Prime Video | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 03, Episode 01 Lindbergh

S03 E01

Oct 2, 1990
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Lindbergh Oct 2, 1990 At 25, Charles A. Lindbergh arrived in Paris, the first man to fly across the Atlantic -- handsome, talented, and brave -- a hero. But the struggle to wear the mantle of legend would be a consuming one. Crowds pursued him, reporters invaded his private life. His marriage, travels with his wife and the kidnapping and murder of their first child were all fodder for the front page.

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Season 03, Episode 02 Journey to America

S03 E02

Oct 9, 1990
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Journey to America Oct 9, 1990 A tribute to the twelve million people who emigrated to the U.S. between 1890 and 1920. A recapturing of the journey through Europe to seaport towns, to the arrival in New York Harbor, and into the early months of settlement from urban ghettos out into the prairies. Letters, diaries and oral interviews are used to depict one of the largest single human migrations in history.

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Season 03, Episode 03 Insanity on Trial

S03 E03

Oct 16, 1990
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Insanity on Trial Oct 16, 1990 On July 2, 1881, Charles Julius Guiteau shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield in the lobby of the Baltimore & Potomac train station in Washington, D.C. As sensational as the assassination itself was, Guiteau's trial lasted over three months and became a very public battle over the meaning of insanity. Was it hereditary? Did it show on a man's face?

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Season 03, Episode 04 Nixon (1): The Quest

S03 E04

Oct 23, 1990
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Nixon (1): The Quest Oct 23, 1990 He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.

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Season 03, Episode 05 Nixon (2): Triumph

S03 E05

Nov 13, 1990
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Nixon (2): Triumph Nov 13, 1990 He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.

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Season 03, Episode 06 Nixon (3): The Fall

S03 E06

Nov 27, 1990
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Nixon (3): The Fall Nov 27, 1990 He possessed a fateful combination of strengths and weaknesses that propelled him to the White House and then brought him down. One of the most enigmatic modern political figures, Richard Nixon inspired divided passions in America. From his days as a young anti-Communist crusader to the president who astounded the nation with his foreign policy initiatives in China and the Soviet Union, and finally, his resignation in the face of impeachment, Nixon was a tragically insecure man with a bold vision. At the center of American politics for more than 25 years, he continues to arouse both anger and admiration.

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Season 03, Episode 07 The Satellite Sky

S03 E07

Dec 4, 1990
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The Satellite Sky Dec 4, 1990 Few events shocked America more than the news in 1957 that Russia had launched the first satellite. It was an assault on our national pride, even a threat to national security. Using news reels, commercials, television shows, government films, and science fiction movies, the film presents a uniquely impressionistic history of the early years of the Space Race.

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Season 4

Prime Video | Rent or Buy
Season 04, Episode 01 LBJ (1)

S04 E01

Oct 1, 1991
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LBJ (1) Oct 1, 1991 LBJ's career started in 1938 when he was elected a congressman, one of the youngest ever. He was elected to the Senate in 1948 under a cloud of suspicion. LBJ won by only 87 votes. In 1954, when the Democrats took over the Senate, LBJ became the youngest majority leader ever at age 46. In 1957, LBJ engineered passage of the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction, but the bill had too many compromises and no teeth. By 1960, LBJ felt he was ready for the presidency, but John Kennedy got there first and then picked LBJ as his vice president.

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Season 04, Episode 02 LBJ (2)

S04 E02

Oct 1, 1991
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LBJ (2) Oct 1, 1991 Lyndon Johnson's ascension to the Presidency and the controversial events of his tenure such as the Great Society and the Vietnam War are chronicled here.

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Season 04, Episode 03 The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry

S04 E03

Oct 8, 1991
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The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry Oct 8, 1991 The first officially formed regiment of northern black soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the 54th's roster included shopkeepers, clerks, cobblers and seamen. They knew the eyes of the nation would be on them at a time when many whites insisted that black soldiers were too cowardly to fight. By the war's end, 180,000 black troops filled the Union ranks.

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Season 04, Episode 04 Barnum's Big Top

S04 E04

Oct 15, 1991
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Barnum's Big Top Oct 15, 1991 P.T. Barnum was huckster, con man, promoter and entertainer. His American Museum featured ancient relics side by side with such "living curiosities" as lions, snakes, bearded ladies and Siamese twins. In 1871 he took the whole show on the road; it traveled by rail. Barnum introduced the idea of three rings, and his "Jumbo the Elephant" added a new word to the English language. By the time he teamed up with James Bailey, his circus had become "The Greatest Show on Earth."

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Season 04, Episode 05 Scandalous Mayor

S04 E05

Oct 29, 1991
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Scandalous Mayor Oct 29, 1991 James Michael Curley dominated Boston's politics for almost half a century, building a sophisticated political machine based on rhetoric, old-fashioned patronage and sheer personal will. In 1903, he ran a campaign from jail and won; he overpowered opponents with charisma and intelligence, and if that didn't work, he smeared them. Curley's colorful, combative style seized the imagination of the community because he thumbed his nose at the Yankee establishment.

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Season 04, Episode 06 Pearl Harbor: Surprise and Remembrance

S04 E06

Nov 12, 1991
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Pearl Harbor: Surprise and Remembrance Nov 12, 1991 The shock of what happened on December 7, 1941 has made Pearl Harbor a synonym for deceit and unpreparedness. Produced for the 50th anniversary, this examination of events shows the attack could have been foreseen -- the US and Japan had been on a collision course for years. A minute-by-minute account, on both sides of the Pacific, leading up to the surprise attack that Sunday morning.

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Season 04, Episode 07 Duke Ellington: Reminiscing in Tempo

S04 E07

Nov 19, 1991
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Duke Ellington: Reminiscing in Tempo Nov 19, 1991 At a time when black and white musicians rarely performed together, when black musicians were exploited by record companies, Ellington was an international star. He made the Cotton Club his showcase for original jazz compositions, some of the most exiting music America had ever heard. Underscored with more than 40 Ellington pieces.

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Season 5

PBS
Season 05, Episode 01 The Kennedys (1): The Father, 1900-61

S05 E01

Sep 21, 1992
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The Kennedys (1): The Father, 1900-61 Sep 21, 1992 No family has had such a powerful hold on the American imagination. A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other. From Joseph Kennedy's rise on Wall Street and frustrations in politics, through John Kennedy's march to the presidency -- orchestrated by his father - -to Edward Kennedy's withdrawal from the 1980 presidential race following the scandal of Chappaquidick, the family has left a legacy that continues to influence politics today.

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Season 05, Episode 02 The Kennedys (2): The Sons, 1961-80

S05 E02

Sep 22, 1992
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The Kennedys (2): The Sons, 1961-80 Sep 22, 1992 No family has had such a powerful hold on the American imagination. A saga of ambition, wealth, family loyalty and personal tragedy, the Kennedy story is unlike any other. From Joseph Kennedy's rise on Wall Street and frustrations in politics, through John Kennedy's march to the presidency -- orchestrated by his father - -to Edward Kennedy's withdrawal from the 1980 presidential race following the scandal of Chappaquidick, the family has left a legacy that continues to influence politics today.

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Season 05, Episode 03 The Donner Party

S05 E03

Oct 29, 1992
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The Donner Party Oct 29, 1992 Of all the 19th century pioneer stories, none exerts so powerful a hold on the American imagination as this, during the worst winter ever recorded in the High Sierras. In June, 1846, 87 men, women and children began their legendary 2,000 mile journey from Illinois to California. They packed huge wagons, took food, hired servants. When family leaders made the fateful decision to take an untried short cut to beat the coming winter, only half would come out alive.

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Season 05, Episode 04 The Johnstown Flood

S05 E04

Nov 6, 1992
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The Johnstown Flood Nov 6, 1992 By an abandoned earthen dam, at a mountain resort 14 miles up the valley, the leaders of industry and their families created an exclusive summer retreat. But the structure of the dam was fatally flawed. On May 31, 1889, after steady spring rains, it broke without warning, and this small city in Pennsylvania was swept away in a wall of water over 30 feet high. More than two thousand people lost their lives; thousands were left homeless.

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Season 05, Episode 05 Liberators:  Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II

S05 E05

Nov 5, 1992
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Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II Nov 5, 1992 They were African-American soldiers. They were inducted into a rigidly segregated army. They trained in white America. Their commanders never intended to send them into battle, and yet African-American soldiers fought through six European countries into the heart of the most violently racist empire the world has ever known. The victims of nazi terror would never forget them.

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Season 05, Episode 06 George Washington: The Man Who Wouldn't Be King

S05 E06

Nov 19, 1992
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George Washington: The Man Who Wouldn't Be King Nov 19, 1992 He was bumbling, yet ambitious. He volunteered to serve his country, but insisted on being reimbursed for expenses. He was the most famous general of the Revolution but a dismal tactician on the battlefield. Greedy and selfish, service to the colonies would profoundly change him. The man who came to symbolize the American Revolution could also be incredibly brave, generous and an inspirational leader who scorned attempts to participate in any system but a democratic one.

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Season 05, Episode 07 Last Stand at Little Big Horn

S05 E07

Nov 26, 1992
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Last Stand at Little Big Horn Nov 26, 1992 In 1876, when the U.S. Army planned its biggest Indian campaign yet against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, General George Custer led the chase. Custer and his 210 men were surprised and surrounded, the result of arrogance, bad planning and bad intelligence. The battle took "about as much time as it takes a hungry man to eat dinner," leaving no white survivors. One of the most frequently depicted and least understood moments in American history, the story is told from both sides.

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Season 6

Season 06, Episode 01 Ike (1): Soldier

S06 E01

Sep 21, 1993
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Ike (1): Soldier Sep 21, 1993 Dwight D. Eisenhower was a decorated general, a skillful politician, a tough Cold War adversary and one of America's least understood presidents. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.

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Season 06, Episode 02 Ike (2): Statesman

S06 E02

Sep 28, 1993
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Ike (2): Statesman Sep 28, 1993 Dwight D. Eisenhower was a decorated general, a skillful politician, a tough Cold War adversary and one of America's least understood presidents. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.

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Season 06, Episode 03 Amelia Earhart: The Price of Courage

S06 E03

Oct 12, 1993
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Amelia Earhart: The Price of Courage Oct 12, 1993 The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart was America's "Lady Lindy." What the public didn't know was the cost of her courage. The record-breaking flights, races, interviews, speeches and promotional commitments pushed her to the point of exhaustion. This beautiful, accomplished woman would disappear without a trace on the eve of her 40th birthday.

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Season 06, Episode 04 The Hunt for Pancho Villa

S06 E04

Nov 9, 1993
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The Hunt for Pancho Villa Nov 9, 1993 Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, was the culmination of years of bloody incidents along the border. For Americans, it was the last straw. In 1916, General John Pershing and his 150,000 man cavalry set out to get Villa, dead or alive. Before it was over, the U.S. and Mexico would be at the brink of war.

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Season 06, Episode 05 Out of Ireland

S06 E05

Jan 27, 1994
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Out of Ireland Jan 27, 1994 Story of the controversial Malcolm X, his early years, his connection to the Nation of Islam, and his legacy.

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Season 06, Episode 06 Malcolm X: Make It Plain

S06 E06

Apr 7, 1994
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Malcolm X: Make It Plain Apr 7, 1994 If any man expressed the anger, struggle and insistence of black people for freedom in the sixties, it was Malcolm X. In Omaha, he was Malcolm Little; later he became "Detroit Red" a small time street hustler. From prison emerged another Malcolm, the fiery, eloquent spokesman for the Nation of Islam. After a trip to Mecca, there was a last transformation -- a new willingness to accept white allies. Who killed him and why has never been fully explained.

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Season 06, Episode 07 America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference

S06 E07

May 26, 1994
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America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference May 26, 1994 Complex social and political factors shaped America's response to the Holocaust, from Kristallnacht in 1938 through the liberation of the death camps in 1945. For a short time, the U.S. had an opportunity to open its doors, but instead erected a "paper wall," a bureaucratic maze that prevented all but a few Jewish refugees from entering the country. It was not until 1944, that a small band of Treasury Department employees forced the government to respond.

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Season 7

PBS
Season 07, Episode 01 FDR (1): The Center of the World (1882-1921)

S07 E01

Oct 13, 1994
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FDR (1): The Center of the World (1882-1921) Oct 13, 1994 This first episode looks at the early life of FDR. Born into a wealthy family, there was little about his youth that would suggest the giant of history that he would become. His entry into state politics and a significant meeting with a woman named Eleanor would change his life and the course of a nation.

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Season 07, Episode 02 FDR (2): Fear Itself (1922-1933)

S07 E02

Oct 13, 1994
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FDR (2): Fear Itself (1922-1933) Oct 13, 1994 In this second episode, the subject is FDR's courageous fight with polio. With his wife Eleanor Roosevelt at his side, FDR, wins the Democratic nomination for president. He takes office at the beginning of the Great Depression. Exhorting the nation to keep the faith, FDR utters his famous words: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

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Season 07, Episode 03 FDR (3): The Grandest Job in the World (1933-1940)

S07 E03

Oct 14, 1994
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FDR (3): The Grandest Job in the World (1933-1940) Oct 14, 1994 In episode three, the subject is FDR's leadership of America during the Great Depression. The nation turned to this son of great wealth for a host of social programs that promised a New Deal for the common man.

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Season 07, Episode 04 FDR (4): The Juggler (1940-1945)

S07 E04

Oct 14, 1994
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FDR (4): The Juggler (1940-1945) Oct 14, 1994 The portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt concludes with his years as preside (1932 until his death in 1945), how he dealt with the Great Depression, and his link with Winston Churchill during World War II.

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Season 07, Episode 05 Telegrams from the Dead

S07 E05

Oct 20, 1994
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Telegrams from the Dead Oct 20, 1994 For 40 years, a new religion called spiritualism affected the nation as no other ever had. Abraham Lincoln, P.T. Barnum, Frederick Douglass, senators, and scientists argued over the discoveries of the spirit world as revealed through mediums. Congress debated whether to provide $40,000 to research the feasibility of using the new wireless technology to reach the other world. But by 1880, as one spectacular fraud after another was revealed, the movement began to fade.

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Season 07, Episode 06 Midnight Ramble

S07 E06

Oct 27, 1994
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Midnight Ramble Oct 27, 1994 The little-known story of a black independent film industry that thrived outside of Hollywood and produced close to 500 feature movies for African American audiences between 1910 and 1940. Many race movies tackled some of the difficult social issues that confronted black urban society: alcoholism, crime, morality, class conflict, even racism and lynching, setting the stage for today's independent black cinema movement.

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Season 07, Episode 07 Battle of the Bulge

S07 E07

Nov 10, 1994
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Battle of the Bulge Nov 10, 1994 The history of World War II's "Battle of the Bulge", when the German army launched a major surprise counteroffensive against the American forces that caught them almost completely off-guard, sweeping away major portions of the front line, pushing deep into the rear areas and causing tens of thousands of casualties before it was finally halted.

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Season 8

Season 08, Episode 01 Murder of the Century

S08 E01

Oct 17, 1995
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Murder of the Century Oct 17, 1995 In 1906, the murder of Stanford White, New York architect and man-about-town, by Harry K. Thaw, heir to a Pittsburgh railroad fortune, was reported "to the ends of the civilized globe;" much of the focus however was on Evelyn Nesbit, the beautiful showgirl in the center of the love triangle. A sensational murder story that had everything: money, power, class, love, rage, lust and revenge.

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Season 08, Episode 02 Edison's Miracle of Light

S08 E02

Oct 24, 1995
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Edison's Miracle of Light Oct 24, 1995 In 1878, Thomas Edison announced his intention to harness Niagara Falls and produce a safe, electric light system. He said he could do it in six weeks. Almost three years later, all the components -- bulbs, sockets, switches, wires, junction boxes -- were finally ready. The "Wizard of Menlo Park" may have revolutionized the world, but he was caught in a web of personal, patent and corporate battles, eventually losing control of the industry he founded.

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Season 08, Episode 03 Chicago 1968

S08 E03

Nov 8, 1995
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Chicago 1968 Nov 8, 1995 While America was reeling from the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and public outcry against the Vietnam War, the Democrats held their convention in Chicago. Yippie and anti-war protesters were determined to be heard; Mayor Daley was just as determined to stop them. A clash of political visions would be fought in the back rooms, on the convention floor and in the streets of Chicago.

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Season 08, Episode 04 The Orphan Trains

S08 E04

Nov 28, 1995
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The Orphan Trains Nov 28, 1995 In the mid 19th century, thousands of children roamed the streets of New York in search of money, food and shelter. In an ambitious and controversial effort to rescue them, between 1854 and 1929 more than 100,000 of these so-called "street Arabs" were sent by train to the Midwest to begin new lives in foster families. Poignant and powerful are the memories of living "Orphan Train" riders who vividly recount their experiences.

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Season 08, Episode 05 Daley: The Last Boss

S08 E05

Jan 23, 1996
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Daley: The Last Boss Jan 23, 1996 Richard J. Daley was born on a street he would never leave and christened in the small church in which he would be buried. His climb up the political ladder to become Mayor was slow and methodical; in a job he coveted, he built a political machine that changed the nature of urban politics, but he was ill-equipped to cope with two great 20th century challenges: race and the war in Vietnam.

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Season 08, Episode 06 The Battle Over Citizen Kane

S08 E06

Jan 30, 1996
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The Battle Over Citizen Kane Jan 30, 1996 A thinly-veiled portrait of the immensely powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the movie created a buzz long before it was released. Most people thought it the work of a genius, but Hearst set out to destroy the director, Orson Welles, and suppress the movie. Just a year earlier Welles had terrorized the east coast with a radio broadcast simulating an alien invasion. But now the 24-year-old boy-genius had taken on one of the most powerful men in America.

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Season 08, Episode 07 The Wright Stuff

S08 E07

Feb 13, 1996
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The Wright Stuff Feb 13, 1996 Theirs is a quintessential American story of two midwestern boys who believed they could break the barrier of the air, succeeding where others with government grants and engineering educations had failed. Their remarkable breakthroughs in design and engineering shaped the course of the twentieth century.

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Season 9

Season 09, Episode 01 T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (1): The Long Campaign

S09 E01

Oct 7, 1996
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T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (1): The Long Campaign Oct 7, 1996 TR is born into a wealthy New York family that has a strong sense of social justice. He fights his severe asthma through a strenuous exercise program. He becomes New York State assemblyman. Then tragedy strikes with the untimely deaths of his beloved first wife and his mother. To escape his grief, he flees to the Dakota Badlands for the rigors of ranch life. When he returns, his political career flourishes; he eventually becomes William McKinley's Vice President.

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Season 09, Episode 02 T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (2): The Bully Pulpit

S09 E02

Oct 7, 1996
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T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (2): The Bully Pulpit Oct 7, 1996 After McKinley's assassination, Roosevelt becomes an "accidental" president. Seeing himself as a crusader, TR uses the presidency to advance his agenda of social reform. He expands the power of the presidential office and comes to dominate American politics. Yet, the night he is elected to a second term, TR announces he will not run again, ultimately weakening his second term.

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Season 09, Episode 03 T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (3): The Good Fight

S09 E03

Oct 8, 1996
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T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (3): The Good Fight Oct 8, 1996 TR is just 46 years old when he is inaugurated as president. He builds the Panama Canal, wins the Nobel Prize for Peace, and combatively introduces widesweeping social reforms. As his presidency draws to a close, TR names his best friend, Secretary of War William Howard Taft, as his successor. Taft wins the 1908 election.

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Season 09, Episode 04 T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (4): Black Care

S09 E04

Oct 8, 1996
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T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (4): Black Care Oct 8, 1996 TR opposes his old friend Taft for the 1912 Republican nomination. When Taft wins, TR runs for president with his own Progressive Party. Despite enormous popular support, he loses to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. TR, now 55, retreats to the jungles of Brazil for two years for what becomes the most harrowing expedition of his life. His four sons join the World War I effort; shatters TR. Nearly six months later, he dies in his sleep at Sagamore Hill.

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Season 09, Episode 05 The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie

S09 E05

Jan 21, 1997
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The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie Jan 21, 1997 A look at the poor emigrant boy who built a fortune in railroads and steel, and, unlike any industrialist of his time, began to systematically give it away; a man full of contradictions and inner conflict.

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Season 09, Episode 06 Hawaii's Last Queen

S09 E06

Jan 28, 1997
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Hawaii's Last Queen Jan 28, 1997 Liliu'okalani moved easily between two worlds -- she had dined at the White House, had been a guest at Buckingham Palace, yet never abandoned her Hawaiian traditions. A writer and composer, she was thrust into a role she was never prepared to play, caught between two opposing forces.

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Season 09, Episode 07 The Telephone

S09 E07

Feb 4, 1997
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The Telephone Feb 4, 1997 At first rented only "to persons of good breeding," seen as an expensive luxury for doctors and businessmen, within a decade the telephone had begun to transform American life. Trees gave way to telephone poles as operators known as "hello girls" began to connect a sprawling continent.

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Season 10

Prime Video | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 10, Episode 01 Truman (1): An Accident of Democracy

S10 E01

Oct 7, 1997
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Truman (1): An Accident of Democracy Oct 7, 1997 A study of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president. Part 1 covers his service during World War I; his accomplishments as a small-time Kansas City politician; his two terms as a Missouri senator.

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Season 10, Episode 02 Truman (2): The Moon, the Stars and All the Planets

S10 E02

Oct 7, 1997
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Truman (2): The Moon, the Stars and All the Planets Oct 7, 1997 Harry S. Truman recalls his post-WWII economic policies; his 1948 presidential campaign; the Korean War; and his celebrated clash with Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

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Season 10, Episode 03 Truman (3): Hell

S10 E03

Oct 8, 1997
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Truman (3): Hell Oct 8, 1997 Challenges and triumphs of an unassuming midwesterner who was thrust into the role of national leader.

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Season 10, Episode 04 Vietnam: A Television History (1): Roots of War

S10 E04

Oct 14, 1997
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Vietnam: A Television History (1): Roots of War Oct 14, 1997 "Vietnam: A Television History" begins by tracing the "Roots of a War" to French colonialism.

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Season 10, Episode 05 Vietnam: A Television History (2): America's Mandarin

S10 E05

Oct 14, 1997
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Vietnam: A Television History (2): America's Mandarin Oct 14, 1997 "America's Mandarin" looks at the start of America's involvement in Vietnam during the 1950s and '60s.

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Season 10, Episode 06 Vietnam: A Television History (3): LBJ Goes to War

S10 E06

Oct 21, 1997
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Vietnam: A Television History (3): LBJ Goes to War Oct 21, 1997 "LBJ Goes to War (1964-65) examines the escalating American involvement following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Interviewed: Gen. William Westmoreland (USA Ret.) and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

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Season 10, Episode 07 Vietnam: A Television History (4): America Takes Charge

S10 E07

Oct 21, 1997
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Vietnam: A Television History (4): America Takes Charge Oct 21, 1997 In "America Takes Charge (1965-67)," GIs recall combat experiences during the years of U.S. military escalation. Also: a sequence in which Americans and Vietnamese describe the same operation.

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Season 11

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Season 11, Episode 01 America 1900 (1): Spirit of the Age

S11 E01

Nov 19, 1998
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America 1900 (1): Spirit of the Age Nov 19, 1998 Over one hundred years ago, Americans looked forward to the uncertainty of a new century with a mixture of confidence, optimism and anxiety. Following a range of characters from famous public figures to ordinary citizens, this chronicle of a year in the life of America examines the forces of change that would come to shape the twentieth century.

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Season 11, Episode 02 America 1900 (2): Change Is in the Air

S11 E02

Nov 19, 1998
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America 1900 (2): Change Is in the Air Nov 19, 1998 Over one hundred years ago, Americans looked forward to the uncertainty of a new century with a mixture of confidence, optimism and anxiety. Following a range of characters from famous public figures to ordinary citizens, this chronicle of a year in the life of America examines the forces of change that would come to shape the twentieth century.

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Season 11, Episode 03 America 1900 (3): A Great Civilized Power

S11 E03

Nov 26, 1998
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America 1900 (3): A Great Civilized Power Nov 26, 1998 Over one hundred years ago, Americans looked forward to the uncertainty of a new century with a mixture of confidence, optimism and anxiety. Following a range of characters from famous public figures to ordinary citizens, this chronicle of a year in the life of America examines the forces of change that would come to shape the twentieth century.

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Season 11, Episode 04 America 1900 (4): Anything Seemed Possible

S11 E04

Nov 26, 1998
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America 1900 (4): Anything Seemed Possible Nov 26, 1998 Over one hundred years ago, Americans looked forward to the uncertainty of a new century with a mixture of confidence, optimism and anxiety. Following a range of characters from famous public figures to ordinary citizens, this chronicle of a year in the life of America examines the forces of change that would come to shape the twentieth century.

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Season 11, Episode 05 Race for the Super Bomb

S11 E05

Jan 12, 1999
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Race for the Super Bomb Jan 12, 1999 At the dawn of the Cold War, the United States initiated a top secret program in New Mexico to build a weapon even more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. A world away, on the frozen steppes of Siberia, the Soviet Union began a similar effort. A web of spies and scientists, intrigue and deception marked the race to develop the hydrogen bomb, a weapon that would change the world.

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Season 11, Episode 06 Hoover Dam

S11 E06

Jan 19, 1999
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Hoover Dam Jan 19, 1999 Rising more than 700 feet above the raging waters of the Colorado River, it was called one of the greatest engineering works in history. Hoover Dam, built during the Great Depression, drew men desperate for work to a remote and rugged canyon near Las Vegas. There they struggled against heat, choking dust and perilous heights to build a colossus of concrete that brought electricity and water to millions and transformed the American Southwest.

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Season 11, Episode 07 Alone on the Ice

S11 E07

Feb 9, 1999
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Alone on the Ice Feb 9, 1999 In June 1934, Richard Byrd lay alone in a small hut within the polar ice, hovering near death. No one before Byrd had ever experienced winter in the interior of the Antarctic. In an age of heroes, he was one of America's greatest. An explorer, aviation pioneer and scientist, Byrd was also an egotist, a risk-taker, and, his critics claim, a fraud who sometimes took credit for the accomplishments of others.

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Season 12

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Season 12, Episode 01 New York (1): The Country and the City

S12 E01

Nov 15, 1999
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New York (1): The Country and the City Nov 15, 1999 The Country and the City, 1609-1825: New York, notes narrator David Ogden Stiers, "was a business proposition from the very start," when Henry Hudson, exploring for the Dutch East India Company, sailed into its harbor. Part 1 also focuses on New Yorker Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary; and Gov. DeWitt Clinton, who built the Erie Canal. "All America," says Stiers, "now met in New York."

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Season 12, Episode 02 New York (2): Order and Disorder

S12 E02

Nov 16, 1999
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New York (2): Order and Disorder Nov 16, 1999 "Order and Disorder: 1825-1865" recalls a period of tremendous growth and ferment. Most of the new arrivals were Irish immigrants (100,000 by 1842—and that was before the potato famine), and the subsequent overcrowding led to the construction of Central Park (1857-58). But that didn't quell the ferment, which exploded in 1863 with the racially charged draft riots. "It was the largest incident of civil disorder in U.S. history," notes historian Mike Wallace.

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Season 12, Episode 03 New York (3): Sunshine and Shadow

S12 E03

Nov 17, 1999
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New York (3): Sunshine and Shadow Nov 17, 1999 "Sunshine and Shadow: 1865-1898" During the Gilded Age, New York "was home to the greatest concentration of wealth in human history," says narrator David Ogden Stiers. And, he adds, "the greatest concentration of poverty." This episode surveys that dichotomy, from Fifth Avenue mansions to slums documented by Jacob Riis in "How the Other Half Lives." Also recalled: the fall of William H. "Boss" Tweed ("he took a fall for the system," claims Pete Hamill).

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Season 12, Episode 04 New York (4): The Power and the People

S12 E04

Nov 18, 1999
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New York (4): The Power and the People Nov 18, 1999 "The Power and the People: 1898-1914" recalls the era of mass immigration. "The entire world would arrive on the city's doorstep," says narrator David Ogden Stiers (1.2-million in 1907 alone). "There was a message," says writer Pete Hamill. "Come here, everything is possible." The program also follows the political career of "Happy Warrior" Al Smith; and charts the construction of the subways and the rise of skyscrapers in the clogged city.

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Season 12, Episode 05 New York (5): Cosmopolis

S12 E05

Nov 19, 1999
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New York (5): Cosmopolis Nov 19, 1999 "Cosmopolis: 1914-1931" recalls the WWI years and the "Roaring '20s" in the city that F. Scott Fitzgerald called "the land of ambition and success." Of course, an egg was laid on Wall Street in 1929, but before that happened the city gave rise, narrator David Ogden Stiers says, "to a new culture, a mass culture" that was broadcast live on radio networks headquartered in New York.

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Season 12, Episode 06 Eleanor Roosevelt

S12 E06

Jan 11, 2000
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Eleanor Roosevelt Jan 11, 2000 Profiling Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), the wife of one president, the niece of another and, says historian Geoffrey Ward, "one of the best politicians of the 20th century" in her own right. That's a remarkable achievement considering that she was also an implacable social reformer all her life. This biography recalls Roosevelt on the public stage, and delves gently but forthrightly into her complex private life.

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Season 12, Episode 07 Nixon's China Game

S12 E07

Feb 2, 2000
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Nixon's China Game Feb 2, 2000 Charting the tortuous three-year gambit that led to Richard Nixon's historic February 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China. What it did, says narrator David Ogden Stiers, was “alter the global balance of power.” How he did it is chronicled in vintage footage and interviews with major players, including Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig, as well as Chinese and Soviet officials, and Nixon himself (in a 1977 TV interview).

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Season 13

Season 13, Episode 01 The Rockefellers (1)

S13 E01

Oct 18, 2000
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The Rockefellers (1) Oct 18, 2000 A dramatic two-part profile of the Rockefellers, a family whose name is synonymous with wealth, begins. Part 1 traces how John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) struck oil (figuratively) in the 1860s and parlayed it into a corporate behemoth that the Supreme Court had to break up in 1911. It also examines how he and his son John D. Jr. (1874-1960) lived with that money -- and the hatred it engendered. The family's strategy: philanthropy. David Ogden Stiers narrates.

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Season 13, Episode 02 The Rockefellers (2)

S13 E02

Oct 25, 2000
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The Rockefellers (2) Oct 25, 2000 The conclusion of a profile of the Rockefellers explores how John D. Jr. accomplished "the seemingly impossible task of redeeming the family name," says narrator David Ogden Stiers. "Junior" (1874-1960) did that by giving away $500 million, much of it while his father (1839-1937) enjoyed a vigorous retirement. The show also charts the fortunes of the next generation of Rockefellers, chiefly second son Nelson, the long-time New York governor. Many of their children rebelled. "The real problem," says Steven Rockefeller, "is the integration of power and goodness."

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Season 13, Episode 03 Secrets of a Master Builder

S13 E03

Oct 31, 2000
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Secrets of a Master Builder Oct 31, 2000 Charting the life on the Mississippi of James B. Eads (1820-1887), "one of the greatest engineering geniuses of all time," says narrator David McCullough. Eads designed, built and financed ironclad river gunships in the Civil War (helping the Union win it, some say), the first steel bridge over the Mississippi, and sandbar-busting jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi that helped ensure the economic viability of New Orleans and the river itself.

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Season 13, Episode 04 Return with Honor

S13 E04

Nov 15, 2000
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Return with Honor Nov 15, 2000 Vietnam POWs recall their ordeals -- at times with great poignancy -- in a first-person history that supplements the comments with North Vietnamese war footage. As the veterans describe it here, their mission was simple, but not easy. "We were determined to return to the U.S. with honor," is the way that Air Force major Fred Cherry puts it. "We were not going to collaborate with the enemy. And we were going to look out for each other." Tom Hanks introduces the film.

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Season 13, Episode 05 The Hurricane of '38

S13 E05

Jan 13, 2001
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The Hurricane of '38 Jan 13, 2001 "The Hurricane of '38" is recalled by survivors of the storm that devastated Rhode Island and eastern Long Island, claiming nearly 700 lives and destroying 4500 homes. Included: archival and home-movie footage.

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Season 13, Episode 06 Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind

S13 E06

Jan 20, 2001
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Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind Jan 20, 2001 Recalling racial-pride advocate Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), whose grand (some said grandiose) vision included an Africa run by Africans. Garvey's Harlem-based United Negro Improvement Association was more than just a civil-rights group -- it was a business and publishing empire. But it wasn't a well-run one, and his story doesn't have a happy ending (due, in part, to a young Justice Department lawyer named J. Edgar Hoover). Still, says narrator Carl Lumbly, Garvey "changed forever the way black Americans looked at themselves and the world.

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Season 13, Episode 07 Abraham And Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (1): Ambition

S13 E07

Feb 20, 2001
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Abraham And Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (1): Ambition Feb 20, 2001 Part 1 of a six-part chronicle of the Abraham Lincoln-Mary Todd relationship begins with their childhoods and courtship. He, of course, was born into poverty; she, however, grew up in luxury, the daughter of a Kentucky banker and slave owner. (Several of her brothers would die fighting for the South in the Civil War.) While he was something of a rube when they met, she was the opposite, polished and refined. Yet they shared something in common: a love of politics.

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Season 14

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Season 14, Episode 01 New York (6): The City of Tomorrow

S14 E01

Sep 11, 2001
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New York (6): The City of Tomorrow Sep 11, 2001 "City of Tomorrow (1929-45)" focuses on Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who used his close ties to FDR to make the city "a gigantic laboratory of civic reconstruction"; and master builder Robert Moses, who "adapted a 19th century city to 20th century circumstances," says historian Kenneth Jackson. The biggest one: the car. Says narrator David Ogden Stiers: "It challenged all previous assumptions about urban life."

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Season 14, Episode 02 New York (7): The City and the World

S14 E02

Sep 18, 2001
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New York (7): The City and the World Sep 18, 2001 Conclusion. "The City and the World" begins in 1945, with New York "at the pinnacle," says historian David McCullough. By 1975 it was: "Ford to City: Drop Dead," as a Daily News headline put it. The program charts the city's decline as it follows what narrator David Ogden Stiers calls "a maelstrom of destruction in the name of urban renewal." Part and parcel of it were the highways Robert Moses built, many through vibrant neighborhoods. The city rebounded in the '80s.

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Season 14, Episode 03 War Letters

S14 E03

Nov 12, 2001
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War Letters Nov 12, 2001 War letters from the American Revolution to the Gulf War are read by 15 actors (including Joan Allen, Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey and Courtney B. Vance). Accompanied by clips, home movies and re-creations, the letters reflect the horror, boredom, anger and, mostly, fear that war engenders. Many readings are followed by notations that the writers had died, but the hour isn't unrelentingly grim. “Pucker up,” one WWII GI writes to his sweetheart on VJ Day. “Here I come.”

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Season 14, Episode 04 Woodrow Wilson (1): A Passionate Man

S14 E04

Jan 7, 2002
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Woodrow Wilson (1): A Passionate Man Jan 7, 2002 A two-part profile of Woodrow Wilson in which news clips, atmospheric re-creations and readings (Rene Auberjonois and Blair Brown provide the voices of Wilson and his first wife, Ellen) supplement interviews with historians. Part 1 takes Wilson (1856-1924) from his Georgia childhood to the outbreak of World War I -- just as Ellen dies. "He's got to deal with the breakdown in the world," historian John Milton Cooper says. "And he's got to deal with the breakdown in his personal life."

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Season 14, Episode 05 Woodrow Wilson (2): The Redemption of the World

S14 E05

Jan 14, 2002
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Woodrow Wilson (2): The Redemption of the World Jan 14, 2002 Woodrow Wilson reluctantly enters World War I in an effort to "make the world safe for democracy" as this two-part profile concludes. He wins the war but loses the peace, as he's confounded first by the French and British at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919; then by the Republicans in the Senate, who thwart U.S. entry into the League of Nations. Meanwhile, Wilson marries Edith Bolling-Galt (voice of Marion Ross) less than a year after his first wife dies. Edith would emerge as the President's virtual "regent" when Wilson suffers a stroke in 1919. Voice of Wilson: Rene Auberjonois.

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Season 14, Episode 06 Mount Rushmore

S14 E06

Jan 21, 2002
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Mount Rushmore Jan 21, 2002 Chronicling the 16-year struggle (1925-41) to fashion Mount Rushmore in South Dakota's Black Hills, and profiling sculptor Gutzon Borglum, its creator. Borglum was 60 when plans for Rushmore were announced and he died not long after the final busts were completed. In between, money was often scarce and the granite from which the likenesses were hewn was crumbly. But Borglum wouldn't be denied, and he had foresight: He planned for 300,000 years' worth of weather erosion.

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Season 14, Episode 07 Miss America

S14 E07

Jan 28, 2002
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Miss America Jan 28, 2002 Recalling the 80-year history of the Miss America Pageant and what narrator Cherry Jones calls "a barometer of America's shifting ideas of American womanhood." Included: eight former Miss Americas recall their runway strolls -- and the world beyond Atlantic City during their reigns. Also: comments from historians and social observers, including Gloria Steinem, a beauty-pageant contestant herself as a teen. "It was glamorous," she says, perhaps surprisingly. Also surprising is Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle's view of the swimsuit competition. "It's empowering," she says. "If you can do that, you can do anything."

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Season 15

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Season 15, Episode 01 Jimmy Carter (1): Jimmy Who?

S15 E01

Nov 12, 2002
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Jimmy Carter (1): Jimmy Who? Nov 12, 2002 An evocative two-part profile of Jimmy Carter explores how his career has been shaped by what former speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg calls his "moral ideology." Produced by Adriana Bosch ("American Experience" biographies of Reagan and Grant), the film features comments by Carter's wife, Rosalynn, and son Chip, as well as historians, former Vice President Walter Mondale and a number of key Carter aides. Part 1 ends just after the 1976 campaign, which put Carter in the White House. He was, says Hertzberg, "exactly what the American people would say they want."

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Season 15, Episode 02 Jimmy Carter (2): Hostage

S15 E02

Nov 13, 2002
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Jimmy Carter (2): Hostage Nov 13, 2002 "Hostage," the conclusion of a two-part Jimmy Carter biography, covers his presidency and post-presidency. Human rights were to be "a basic tenet of our foreign policy," Carter declared in 1977, but he was overwhelmed by events in Iran, and economic woes at home led to a "malaise" so severe that the 1978 Camp David accords didn't even give him a boost in the polls. Then came the hostage crisis. But back in Plains, he and Rosalynn regrouped. And now? As former Carter speechwriter Henrdrik Hertzberg puts it: "His values, his devotion to human rights, keep on resonating in a way that his failures and weaknesses don't."

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Season 15, Episode 03 Chicago: City of the Century (1): Mudhole to Metropolis

S15 E03

Jan 14, 2003
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Chicago: City of the Century (1): Mudhole to Metropolis Jan 14, 2003 A three-part history based on historian Donald L. Miller's book "City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America." Part 1 begins with the arrival of French explorers Marquette and Joliet in 1673, and follows the digging of canals, and the arrival of railroads and industry. It ends with the Great Fire of 1871, which interrupted the city's explosive 19th-century growth only momentarily.

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Season 15, Episode 04 Chicago: City of the Century (2): The Revolution Has Begun

S15 E04

Jan 15, 2003
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Chicago: City of the Century (2): The Revolution Has Begun Jan 15, 2003 A three-part history based on historian Donald L. Miller's book "City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America." Part 2 covers the 1870s and '80s, when the city's can-do business leaders found themselves increasingly at odds with labor. The episode profiles meatpacker Augustus Swift; sleeping-car magnate George Pullman, who established what he hoped would become a utopian workers community; and merchant prince Marshall Field, who had no such notions. Then there were the anarchists.

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Season 15, Episode 05 Chicago: City of the Century (3): Battle for Chicago

S15 E05

Jan 16, 2003
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Chicago: City of the Century (3): Battle for Chicago Jan 16, 2003 A three-part history based on historian Donald L. Miller's book "City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America." Part 3 concludes by exploring the city's ethnic and class tensions during the 1880s and '90s. Ethnic groups banded together in what narrator David Ogden Stiers calls "a defensive communalism," but most immigrants headed first to the city's worst slum, the Near West Side, which was presided over by Alderman Johnny Powers, the "prince of the boodlers," who traded services for votes.

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Season 15, Episode 06 Transcontinental Railroad

S15 E06

Jan 28, 2003
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Transcontinental Railroad Jan 28, 2003 Charting the race between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific to construct a transcontinental railroad to link the U.S. It ended May 10, 1869, in Promontory Point, Utah. The construction was "the engineering marvel of the 19th century -- and a flat-out swindle,” says narrator Michael Murphy. It was also "the technological manifestation of Manifest Destiny,” says historian Wendell Huffman, one of the program's commentators. And it sealed the fate of the Plains Indians. When the final spike was in place, Murphy says, "America could take its place as the first nation in the world."

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Season 15, Episode 07 Partners of the Heart

S15 E07

Feb 11, 2003
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Partners of the Heart Feb 11, 2003 Chronicling the unlikely partnership between a white surgeon and a black "technician" that led to a procedure to correct blue-baby syndrome in 1944. The principals: Vivien Thomas, a black man with only a high-school diploma, and Alfred Blalock, the patrician chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins. Blalock pioneered the surgery to correct the congenital heart defect, but it was Thomas who devised to procedures that were used. And they did it at a time, narrator Morgan Freeman says, when the two "could not share the same lunch table in the Hopkins cafeteria."

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Season 16

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Season 16, Episode 01 New York (8): The Center of the World

S16 E01

Sep 10, 2003
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New York (8): The Center of the World Sep 10, 2003 Filmmaker Ric Burns adds a poignant postscript to his series "New York: A Documentary Film" with this chronicle of the World Trade Center's rise and fall. Burns recounts Sept. 11 wrenchingly, but he devotes more than half the film to the Center's rise. This isn't a pretty story: It's one of economic, political, architectural and engineering labyrinths. The result was a critical and commercial flop, though historian Kenneth Jackson says: "It's more important to history now that it's gone."

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Season 16, Episode 02 Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (1): Revolution

S16 E02

Jan 13, 2004
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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (1): Revolution Jan 13, 2004 "Reconstruction: The Second Civil War," a two-part report, follows political leaders and ordinary Americans alike as it chronicles one of the most contentious periods in American history. "An old social order had been destroyed," says Columbia University historian Eric Foner. "Everything was up for grabs." Part 1 begins with the end of the war, as President Johnson, no friend of the freed slaves, squares off against Republicans in Congress. In 1868 they pass the 14th Amendment, which is "the origin of the concept of civil rights," Foner notes. Johnson vetoed it and, says narrator Dion Graham, "the lines were drawn."

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Season 16, Episode 03 Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (2): Retreat

S16 E03

Jan 14, 2004
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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (2): Retreat Jan 14, 2004 "Reconstruction" concludes by following whites and blacks in Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana between 1867 and 1877. It begins with the granting of widespread voting rights for blacks in the South, and with whites "preparing for the worst," says narrator Dion Graham. It wouldn't end that way for South Carolina rice planter Frances Butler, who was not at all pleased to "negotiate" with her family's former slaves. Their leader: Tunis Campbell, who would soon be elected to the state Senate. In Georgia, too, blacks were elected to the legislature. And in Louisiana, Vermonter Marshall Twitchell began amassing both cotton lands and political power. Local whites, who resented Twitchell deeply, called him a "carpetbagger."

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Season 16, Episode 04 Citizen King

S16 E04

Jan 20, 2004
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Citizen King Jan 20, 2004 "Citizen King," a reverential chronicle of the final five years of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, employs eyewitnesses to the history King made to recall it. Among them: Coretta Scott King, former representative William Gray, author David Halberstam, civil-rights veterans Joseph Lowery, Roger Wilkins and Taylor Branch, long-time political figure Andrew Young, former senator Harris Wofford, former attorney general Ramsey Clark and theologian James Cone.

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Season 16, Episode 05 Remember the Alamo

S16 E05

Feb 3, 2004
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Remember the Alamo Feb 3, 2004 "Remember the Alamo" recalls the contributions of Tejanos (Hispanic Texans) to the struggle for Texan independence. It profiles Tejano leader Jose Antonio Navarro (1795-1871), an ally of Stephen F. Austin in the effort to build up the Texas economy by luring American settlers (cotton planters particularly) in the 1820s. Navarro was also a spearhead of the revolt against Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1836.

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Season 16, Episode 06 Tupperware!

S16 E06

Feb 10, 2004
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Tupperware! Feb 10, 2004 "Modern dishes for modern living" (and they "burped," no less), sold by women at "home parties." This slice of 1950s Americana is recalled in "Tupperware!" "The era and the product were made for each other," says one of the Tupperware "ladies" who are interviewed throughout the hour. Husbands are interviewed too because Tupperware was oftentimes a family affair, with the men working behind the scenes. The man in charge: Earl Tupper, who invented the sealable plastic containers. But a woman, Brownie Wise, developed Tupperware's phenomenally successful marketing plan. What gives "Tupperware!" its bite is the fact that Tupper and Wise didn't get along.

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Season 16, Episode 07 Emma Goldman

S16 E07

Apr 13, 2004
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Emma Goldman Apr 13, 2004 Recalling Emma Goldman (1869-1940), the fiery and formidable radical whose life, says narrator Blair Brown, was "dedicated to free speech, free thought and free love." This profile is sympathetic to Goldman, but she doesn't get a free ride. Indeed, historian Kevin Baker calls her anarchism "jaw-droppingly naive," and no one challenges that. No one denies her passion, either. Says playwright Tony Kushner, "She lived a life on fire."

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Season 17

PBS
Season 17, Episode 01 RFK (1): The Garish Sun

S17 E01

Oct 5, 2004
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RFK (1): The Garish Sun Oct 5, 2004 A shy, if driven man, Robert Kennedy "wasn't built for the spotlight, he was built for the wings," says journalist Jack Newfield. While John Kennedy was alive, that's where Bobby stayed -- making certain that JFK remained in the spotlight.

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Season 17, Episode 02 RFK (2): The Awful Grace of God

S17 E02

Oct 5, 2004
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RFK (2): The Awful Grace of God Oct 5, 2004 After Nov. 22, 1963, "we saw [RFK] grow," says civil-rights veteran John Lewis. Kennedy's famously tense relationship with LBJ was ruptured beyond repair by Vietnam, and he made the plight of the dispossessed his moral and political passion. Says Newfield: "He saw somebody hurting and he hurt."

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Season 17, Episode 03 The Fight

S17 E03

Jan 25, 2005
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The Fight Jan 25, 2005 "The Fight" recalls the June 1938 heavyweight title bout between Joe Louis and the German Max Schmeling, and assesses its political and social ramifications. "It was going to pit whole nations and whole ideologies against each other," says narrator Courtney B. Vance. Producer-director Barak Goodman also explores Louis's place in America's racial divide as well as the genial Schmeling's ties to Hitler.

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Season 17, Episode 04 Fidel Castro

S17 E04

Feb 1, 2005
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Fidel Castro Feb 1, 2005 Fidel Castro's march through Cuba and the second half of the 20th century is chronicled by filmmaker Adriana Bosch. Here, Cuban exiles and former Castro confreres, foreign-policy experts, a former Castro brother-in-law and his daughter Alina Fernandez paint a portrait of a dictator, a social reformer -- and a survivor.

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Season 17, Episode 05 Building the Alaskan Highway

S17 E05

Feb 8, 2005
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Building the Alaskan Highway Feb 8, 2005 Recalls the construction of the 1500-mile "shortcut to Tokyo" through Canada in 1942 by 11,000 U.S. troops (4,000 of them black). It wasn't the Army's greatest World War II triumph, but it was one of the first, and it gave Americans, who feared a Japanese buildup in the Aleutians, a needed morale boost. This hour is light on military and engineering detail, and packed with proud GIs recalling mud, cold and toil.

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Season 17, Episode 06 Kinsey

S17 E06

Feb 15, 2005
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Kinsey Feb 15, 2005 Profiling Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the Indiana University zoologist whose "revolutionary picture of American sexuality" rocked the country in the late 1940s and early '50s. Filmmakers Barak Goodman and John Maggio interview Kinsey colleagues and biographers, along with people took part in his studies, to paint a portrait of an "unyielding" proponent of sexual freedom who practiced what he preached. Says sexologist Paul Gebhard, a Kinsey assistant: "He was a rebel."

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Season 17, Episode 07 Mary Pickford

S17 E07

Apr 5, 2005
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Mary Pickford Apr 5, 2005 Profiling Mary Pickford, the silent-screen "sweetheart" who blazed the trail to Hollywood and became "America's first superstar." Pickford (1893-1979) was also an astute businesswoman: She founded United Artists with Charlie Chaplin and her husband-to-be Douglas Fairbanks. But, as filmmaker Sue Williams stresses here, there was no glorious sunset. As Pickford biographer Eileen Whitfield puts it, she was "the first has-been created by film."

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Season 18

Season 18, Episode 01 Two Days in October

S18 E01

Oct 18, 2005
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Two Days in October Oct 18, 2005 "Two Days in October" recalls two 1967 events -- a Vietcong ambush and a violent antiwar demonstration at the University of Wisconsin -- that together marked a turning point in America's Vietnam tragedy. The ambush, on Oct. 17, killed 64 of the 142 U.S. troops attacked, and showed, maybe for the first time, that the war might not be winnable. And the protest, a day later against Dow Chemical Co., is believed to be the first antiwar demonstration to turn violent.

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Season 18, Episode 02 Race to the Moon

S18 E02

Nov 1, 2005
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Race to the Moon Nov 1, 2005 "Race to the Moon" chronicles Apollo 8, the first voyage to the moon. "It was an event beyond all other events," says Walter Cronkite of the December 1968 mission, which laid the groundwork for the first lunar landing seven months later. Cronkite and author Andrew Chaikin put the flight into context; astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders and their wives recall it firsthand. Says Lovell of seeing the lunar landscape, "We were like three kids looking into a candy-store window."

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Season 18, Episode 03 Las Vegas: An Unconventional History (1): Sin City

S18 E03

Nov 15, 2005
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Las Vegas: An Unconventional History (1): Sin City Nov 15, 2005 The story of the gambling mecca is told via news clips and reminiscences. Part 1 of 2

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Season 18, Episode 04 Las Vegas: An Unconventional History (2): American Mecca

S18 E04

Nov 16, 2005
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Las Vegas: An Unconventional History (2): American Mecca Nov 16, 2005 News clips and reminiscences tell the story of the gambling mecca, from a dusty railroad town to a leading tourist attraction. Part 2 of 2

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Season 18, Episode 05 John and Abigail Adams

S18 E05

Jan 24, 2006
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John and Abigail Adams Jan 24, 2006 An engrossing portrait of the second U.S. president and first lady, costars Simon Russell Beale and Linda Emond. Included: the friendship (and enmity) between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (James Barbour), who both died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; the Adamses' “great love story”; their bouts with depression; his troubled presidency. Interspersed are comments from historians.

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Season 18, Episode 06 The Nuremberg Trials

S18 E06

Jan 31, 2006
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The Nuremberg Trials Jan 31, 2006 A gripping study of the groundbreaking prosecution, which began Nov. 20, 1945, as Nazi Germany's leaders were held accountable for war crimes, infamously blamed on "following orders." Profiled are Hermann Goering, the lead defendant, and Robert Jackson, the U.S. prosecutor. Also: comments from Walter Cronkite, who covered the proceedings; events leading to the trial, which had 21 defendants and eight judges; footage of concentration camps.

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Season 18, Episode 07 Jesse James

S18 E07

Feb 7, 2006
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Jesse James Feb 7, 2006 A striking profile of the outlaw (1847-82) is told through reenactments, comments from historians and archival photographs. The hour traces James' life from age 16 to his death at 34 (he was shot in the back), and includes his years as a Southern guerrilla fighter, bandit and killer.

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Season 19

PBS
Season 19, Episode 01 Eyes on the Prize (1 & 2): Awakenings 1954-1956 / Fighting Back 1957-1962

S19 E01

Oct 3, 2006
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Eyes on the Prize (1 & 2): Awakenings 1954-1956 / Fighting Back 1957-1962 Oct 3, 2006 Part 1 of 3 of the award-winning 1987 documentary "Eyes on the Prize." Included: profiles of Mose Wright and Rosa Parks; conflicts sparked by the Supreme Court's 1955 ruling that schools should be integrated; James Meredith's efforts to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962; and newsreel comments by former Mississippi senator James Eastland.

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Season 19, Episode 02 Eyes on the Prize (3 & 4): Ain't Scared of Your Jails 1960-1961/No Easy Walk 1961-1963

S19 E02

Oct 10, 2006
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Eyes on the Prize (3 & 4): Ain't Scared of Your Jails 1960-1961/No Easy Walk 1961-1963 Oct 10, 2006 Part 2 of the 1987 documentary "Eyes on the Prize." Included: the 1960 Greensboro, N.C., lunch-counter sit-in; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; the rise of mass demonstrations in the civil-rights movement; Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech; children's marches in Birmingham, Ala.

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Season 19, Episode 03 Eyes on the Prize (5 & 6): Is This America? 1963-1964 / Bridge to Freedom 1965

S19 E03

Oct 17, 2006
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Eyes on the Prize (5 & 6): Is This America? 1963-1964 / Bridge to Freedom 1965 Oct 17, 2006 Conclusion of the 1987 documentary “Eyes on the Prize.” Included: events of 1963 and '64, when Mississippi became a battleground in the civil-rights movement; the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers; the 1964 black voter-registration drive; the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery.

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Season 19, Episode 04 Test Tube Babies

S19 E04

Oct 24, 2006
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Test Tube Babies Oct 24, 2006 History of in vitro fertilization, traces IVF from an early success with rabbits to the present. Included: controversy and setbacks; the 1978 birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first IVF-born baby; the birth of America's first test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, in 1981. Also: comments from scientists, a couple involved in a lawsuit against a hospital.

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Season 19, Episode 05 The Great Fever

S19 E05

Oct 31, 2006
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The Great Fever Oct 31, 2006 The history of yellow fever, and how it was determined that the disease was transmitted by mosquitoes. Included: the work of Carlos Finlay, the Cuban physician who found the link to the insects; how Finlay's theory influenced Jesse Lazear and James Carroll, scientists who were part of Walter Reed's team after Reed was sent by the U.S. to Havana to find the cause of the disease when American troops were sent to Cuba following the Spanish-American War.

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Season 19, Episode 06 The Gold Rush

S19 E06

Nov 7, 2006
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The Gold Rush Nov 7, 2006 A vibrant retelling of the mania that followed the discovery of gold in San Francisco in 1848. "Next to the Civil War in the 19th century," says historian J.S. Holliday, "no other event had a greater impact." The focus is on five real-life adventurers, including a down-on-his-luck Chilean aristocrat; a New York blacksmith who leaves his family in hopes of striking it rich; and a determined Missouri woman.

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Season 19, Episode 07 The Berlin Airlift

S19 E07

Jan 30, 2007
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The Berlin Airlift Jan 30, 2007 One of the first skirmishes of the Cold War, the 1948-49 Soviet blockade of rail and road traffic to and from West Berlin, is recalled. The U.S. and its allies responded with an airlift of food and supplies to residents. Included: archival footage; and comments from mission pilots and some of the civilians who received aid.

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Season 20

Prime Video | Rent or Buy
Season 20, Episode 01 Oswald's Ghost

S20 E01

Jan 15, 2008
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Oswald's Ghost Jan 15, 2008 A re-examination of the JFK assassination and the subsequent investigations that led to a mistrust of the government's explanations of the act.

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Season 20, Episode 02 The Lobotomist

S20 E02

Jan 22, 2008
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The Lobotomist Jan 22, 2008 A look at the controversial work of Walter Freeman, a neurosurgeon who sought to alleviate severe mental disorder by permanently disabling the brain's frontal lobes.

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Season 20, Episode 03 Eyes on the Prize II (1 & 2): The Time Has Come/Two Societies

S20 E03

Feb 4, 2008
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Eyes on the Prize II (1 & 2): The Time Has Come/Two Societies Feb 4, 2008 Special Sunday re-broadcasts of Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads, a 1990 sequel to the original series produced by Blackside, Inc.

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Season 20, Episode 04 Grand Central

S20 E04

Feb 5, 2008
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Grand Central Feb 5, 2008 The story of the origins of New York's re-imagined Grand Central Station in the early 20th century, proclaimed in its time as the most majestic and advanced train terminal of all.

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Season 20, Episode 05 Eyes on the Prize II (3 & 4): Power!/The Promised Land

S20 E05

Feb 11, 2008
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Eyes on the Prize II (3 & 4): Power!/The Promised Land Feb 11, 2008 Special Sunday re-broadcasts of Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads, a 1990 sequel to the original series produced by Blackside, Inc.

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Season 20, Episode 06 Eyes on the Prize II (5 & 6): Ain't Gonna' Shuffle No More/A Nation of Law?

S20 E06

Feb 18, 2008
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Eyes on the Prize II (5 & 6): Ain't Gonna' Shuffle No More/A Nation of Law? Feb 18, 2008 Special Sunday re-broadcasts of Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads, a 1990 sequel to the original series produced by Blackside, Inc.

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Season 20, Episode 07 Eyes on the Prize II (7 & 8): The Keys to the Kingdom/Back to the Movement

S20 E07

Feb 19, 2008
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Eyes on the Prize II (7 & 8): The Keys to the Kingdom/Back to the Movement Feb 19, 2008 The true story behind the mountain man whose unique abilities were critical to America's westward expansion.

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Season 21

PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 21, Episode 01 The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer

S21 E01

Jan 27, 2009
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The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer Jan 27, 2009 The career of America's most famous and controversial nuclear physicist and his fall from grace during the Cold War.

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Season 21, Episode 02 The Polio Crusade

S21 E02

Feb 3, 2009
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The Polio Crusade Feb 3, 2009 The human story behind the massive American effort to eliminate the debilitating effects of the polio virus and the truly untested nature of Salk's original vaccine.

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Season 21, Episode 03 The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

S21 E03

Feb 10, 2009
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The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln Feb 10, 2009 The circumstances surrounding the last days of the 16th President of the United States.

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Season 21, Episode 04 A Class Apart

S21 E04

Feb 24, 2009
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A Class Apart Feb 24, 2009 A 1951 murder by a Mexican-American laborer brings into question the legal status of Hispanics in the United States.

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Season 21, Episode 05 We Shall Remain (1): After the Mayflower

S21 E05

Apr 14, 2009
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We Shall Remain (1): After the Mayflower Apr 14, 2009 A chronicle of the early relations and negotiations between the tribes of what became known as New England and the European settlers.

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Season 21, Episode 06 We Shall Remain (2): Tecumseh's Vision

S21 E06

Apr 21, 2009
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We Shall Remain (2): Tecumseh's Vision Apr 21, 2009 The story of a great Native American alliance to counter the 1800s US westward expansion from the Atlantic coast.

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Season 21, Episode 07 We Shall Remain (3): Trail of Tears

S21 E07

Apr 28, 2009
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We Shall Remain (3): Trail of Tears Apr 28, 2009 Perspectives on the forced move of the Cherokee from the southeast to the newly established "Indian Territory" of what is now Oklahoma

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Season 22

PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 22, Episode 01 Civilian Conservation Corps

S22 E01

Nov 3, 2009
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Civilian Conservation Corps Nov 3, 2009 air date might be wrong

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Season 22, Episode 02 Wyatt Earp

S22 E02

Jan 26, 2010
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Wyatt Earp Jan 26, 2010 The complex life of a man who has come to represent western justice but had many connections to lawlessness.

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Season 22, Episode 03 The Bombing of Germany

S22 E03

Feb 9, 2010
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The Bombing of Germany Feb 9, 2010 This film examines the defining moments of the offensive that led the U.S. across a moral divide. Weaving interviews with WWII pilots and historians with stunning archival footage of the bombing and its aftermath, the program is a haunting reminder of the dilemma imposed by war’s civilian casualties.

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Season 22, Episode 04 Dolley Madison

S22 E04

Mar 2, 2010
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Dolley Madison Mar 2, 2010 Tony Award-winner Eve Best stars as Dolley Madison, America’s “first First Lady”; Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays is James Madison.

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Season 22, Episode 05 Earth Days

S22 E05

Apr 20, 2010
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Earth Days Apr 20, 2010 Director Robert Stone traces the origins of the modern environmental movement through the eyes of nine Americans who propelled the movement from its beginnings in the 1950s.

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Season 22, Episode 06 My Lai

S22 E06

Apr 27, 2010
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My Lai Apr 27, 2010 Examines one of the darkest chapters of the Vietnam War: the 1968 My Lai massacre, its cover-up and the soldiers who broke rank to halt the atrocities.

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Season 22, Episode 07 Roads to Memphis

S22 E07

May 4, 2010
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Roads to Memphis May 4, 2010 On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King. This is the fateful narrative of the killer and his prey, set against the seething, turbulent forces in American society.

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Season 23

Prime Video | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 23, Episode 01 Robert E. Lee

S23 E01

Oct 12, 2010
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Robert E. Lee Oct 12, 2010 This film examines the life and reputation of the general, whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and the hero of the Confederacy and who was elevated to almost god-like status by his admirers after his death.

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Season 23, Episode 02 Ulysses S. Grant: Warrior

S23 E02

Oct 13, 2010
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Ulysses S. Grant: Warrior Oct 13, 2010

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Season 23, Episode 03 Dinosaur Wars

S23 E03

Oct 14, 2010
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Dinosaur Wars Oct 14, 2010 From PBS and American Experience - In the summer of 1868, paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh boarded a Union Pacific train for a sightseeing excursion through the heart of the newly opened American West. While most passengers simply saw magnificent landscapes, Marsh soon realized he was traveling through the greatest dinosaur burial ground of all time.

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Season 23, Episode 04 The Greely Expedition

S23 E04

Jan 4, 2011
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The Greely Expedition Jan 4, 2011 Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration.

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Season 23, Episode 05 Panama Canal

S23 E05

Jan 18, 2011
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Panama Canal Jan 18, 2011 In the late 19th century, paleontologists Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh uncovered the remains of hundreds of prehistoric animals in the American West, including dozens of previously undiscovered dinosaur species. But the rivalry that developed between them would spiral out of control, permanently damaging their careers and threatening the future of American paleontology.

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Season 23, Episode 06 Triangle Fire

S23 E06

Jan 25, 2011
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Triangle Fire Jan 25, 2011 The 1904-1914 construction of the Panama Canal, the 50-mile link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is recalled via archival footage, photos and interviews with workers, as well as insights from historians. The undertaking cost the U.S. about $375 million and 5609 workers (out of 56,307), who perished from both accidents and disease. The documentary also explores what life was like for the workers, who were a mix of Americans, Europeans and West Indians.On August 15th, 1914, the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world’s two largest oceans and signaling America’s emergence as a global superpower. American ingenuity and innovation had succeeded where, fifteen years earlier, the French had failed disastrously. But the U.S. paid a price for victory: a decade of ceaseless, grinding toil, an outlay of more than 350 million dollars -- the largest single federal expenditure in history to that time -- and the loss of more than 5,000 lives. Along the way, Central America witnessed the brazen overthrow of a sovereign government, the influx of over 55,000 workers from around the globe, the removal of hundreds of millions of tons of earth, and engineering innovation on an unprecedented scale. The construction of the Canal was the epitome of man’s mastery over nature and signaled the beginning of America’s domination of world affairs.The second half of the 19th century was a time of expansion and great technological advancement. Americans built the Brooklyn Bridge and completed the Transcontinental Railroad. The French had constructed the Suez Canal in Egypt in 1869 and set their sights on a canal through the Panamanian Isthmus. But after eight years of earthquakes, floods and disease-stunted progress, the French returned home bankrupt. The canal project would lay abandoned for nearly 15 years.When President Theodore Roosevelt came to office in 1901, he saw the creation and control of the canal as the key to America projecting itself as a world power. "If we are to hold our own in the struggle for supremacy," Roosevelt insisted, "we must build the canal." With Roosevelt's backing, Panamanians claimed their independence from Colombia in 1903 after a bloodless revolution. The United States and Panama signed a treaty giving the U.S. sovereignty over the "Canal Zone," a 440 square mile area stretching across the isthmus.Over the next decade, engineers, politicians, and laborers involved in this epic undertaking faced incredible hardships: bureaucratic inefficiencies, wild terrain, extreme weather, outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria, and generally poor working conditions. Three different engineers would take on the project during its time. In 1904, John F. Wallace came to the isthmus with an order from President Roosevelt to "make the dirt fly." When Wallace left Panama after only a year, he had accomplished little and left morale along the isthmus low. In July 1905, John Stevens took over as chief engineer. He first sought to rebuild the railroad -- a project that both organized the entire endeavor and allowed for the development of innovations that would prove crucial to the success of the canal's construction. By the time he was finished the railroad functioned as a giant conveyor belt for excavated spoil, shifting continuously to accommodate the work as it progressed.With the railroad system improved, Stevens concentrated on the Culebra Mountain, the highest point of the Isthmus. He quickly realized that digging a sea-level cut through the mountain while battling the formidable current of the Chagres River would be impossible. He supported a new plan with a system of locks, a massive dam to control the Chagres, and a giant artificial lake 85 feet above sea level. Implementing this plan exhausted Stevens, who resigned in February 1907.Colonel George Washington Goethals became the third and final chief engineer for the Panama Canal. Goethals' stepped up the pace of production, refusing to negotiate with strikers and ordering labor to continue around the clock; at any given time, day or night, thousands of men were working in the canal. The rigorous production schedule yielded visible progress by 1911, improving worker morale. In May of 1913, steam shovels finally met at the middle of the Cut. Soon workers sealed the last spillway at Gatun dam, allowing the water of Gatun Lake to rise to its full height. After demolishing the dikes at either end of the canal, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans rushed inland, and the final stretch of the Culebra Cut was flooded. On August 15th, 1914, the Panama Canal was finally opened to the public.After more than a decade of struggle, successful completion of the Panama Canal established the U.S. as a global power in commerce and technology at the dawn of the 20th century.Panama Canal features a fascinating cast of characters ranging from the indomitable Theodore Roosevelt, who saw the Canal as the embodiment of American might and ingenuity, to Colonel William Gorgas, an army doctor who instituted a revolutionary public health campaign that all but eradicated Yellow Fever, to the visionary engineers who solved the seemingly impossible problem of cutting a 50-mile long slice through mountains and jungle. The film also delves into the lives of the thousands of workers, rigidly segregated by race, who left their homes to sign on for an unprecedented adventure. In the Canal zone, skilled positions were reserved for white workers while a predominantly West Indian workforce did the backbreaking manual labor, cutting brush, digging ditches and loading and unloading equipment and supplies. Using an extraordinary archive of photographs and footage, rare interviews with canal workers, and firsthand accounts of life in the Canal zone, Panama Canal unravels the remarkable story of one of the world's most daring and significant technological achievements.

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Season 23, Episode 07 The Great Famine

S23 E07

Feb 1, 2011
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The Great Famine Feb 1, 2011 In 1881, 25 men led by Adolphus Greely set sail from Newfoundland to Lady Franklin Bay in the high Arctic, where they planned to collect a wealth of scientific data from a vast area of the world’s surface that had been described as a "sheer blank." Three years later, only six survivors returned, with a daunting story of shipwreck, starvation, mutiny and cannibalism. The film reveals how poor planning, personality clashes, questionable decisions and pure bad luck conspired to turn a noble scientific mission into a human tragedy.

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Season 24

Prime Video | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 24, Episode 01 Billy the Kid

S24 E01

Jan 11, 2012
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Billy the Kid Jan 11, 2012 A fascinating look at the myth and the man behind it, who, in just a few short years transformed himself from a skinny orphan boy to the most feared man in the West and an enduring western icon.

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Season 24, Episode 02 Custer's Last Stand

S24 E02

Jan 18, 2012
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Custer's Last Stand Jan 18, 2012 A profile of Gen. George Armstrong Custer (1839-76), nicknamed "the boy general" for his Civil War exploits, who died with many other members of the 7th Cavalry while battling the Cheyenne and Lakota along the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory. The documentary details his time at West Point, where he became infamous for his rebellious nature; his relationship with his wife Libbie; his year-long suspension from the service; and the campaign against the Cheyenne that led to his death.

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Season 24, Episode 03 Clinton: The Comeback Kid (1)

S24 E03

Feb 21, 2012
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Clinton: The Comeback Kid (1) Feb 21, 2012 Part 1 of a two-part profile of former president Bill Clinton charts his path from Hope, Ark., to Washington, D.C., ending midway through his first term when the GOP, led by Newt Gingrich, took control of the House of Representatives and Senate. The documentary details the scandals and setbacks that Clinton weathered to that point; and features remarks from such Clinton associates as Harold Ickes, Dick Morris, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Robert Reich and Betsey Wright.

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Season 24, Episode 04 Clinton: The Survivor (2)

S24 E04

Feb 22, 2012
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Clinton: The Survivor (2) Feb 22, 2012 The conclusion of the Bill Clinton biography recalls the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which led to Clinton becoming the second U.S. president to be impeached. It also details his face-off over the federal budget with Newt Gingrich, whose refusal to compromise led to a government shutdown, and successful 1996 reelection campaign. Among those commenting: Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr; Paula Jones' attorney James Fisher; and White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum.

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Season 24, Episode 05 The Amish

S24 E05

Feb 29, 2012
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The Amish Feb 29, 2012 The first documentary to deeply penetrate and explore this profoundly attention-averse group, The Amish answers many questions Americans have about this insistently insular religious community, whose intense faith and adherence to 500-year-old traditions have by turns captivated and repelled, awed and irritated, inspired and confused for more than a century.

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Season 24, Episode 06 Grand Coulee Dam

S24 E06

Apr 11, 2012
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Grand Coulee Dam Apr 11, 2012 Featuring the men and women who lived and worked at Grand Coulee in the wake of the Great Depression and the Native people whose lives were changed alongside historians and engineers, this film explores how the tension between technological achievement and environmental impact hangs over the project's legacy.

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Season 24, Episode 07 Jesse Owens

S24 E07

May 2, 2012
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Jesse Owens May 2, 2012 Despite Jesse Owens' remarkable victories in the face of Nazi racism at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the athlete struggled to find a place for himself in a United States that was still wrestling to overcome its own deeply entrenched bias.

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Season 25

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Season 25, Episode 01 The Abolitionists: 1820s-1838

S25 E01

Jan 9, 2013
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The Abolitionists: 1820s-1838 Jan 9, 2013 The story of how abolitionist allies William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation.

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Season 25, Episode 02 The Abolitionists: 1838-1854

S25 E02

Jan 16, 2013
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The Abolitionists: 1838-1854 Jan 16, 2013 See how the activities of the five principals intersect and affect the anti-slavery movement.

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Season 25, Episode 03 The Abolitionists: 1854-Emancipation and Victory

S25 E03

Jan 23, 2013
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The Abolitionists: 1854-Emancipation and Victory Jan 23, 2013 Examine the forces leading to war and to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

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Season 25, Episode 04 Henry Ford

S25 E04

Jan 30, 2013
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Henry Ford Jan 30, 2013 An absorbing life story of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century, Henry Ford offers an incisive look at the birth of the American auto industry with its long history of struggles between labor and management, and a thought-provoking reminder of how Ford's automobile forever changed the way we work, where we live, and our ideas about individuality, freedom, and possibility.

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Season 25, Episode 05 Silicon Valley

S25 E05

Feb 6, 2013
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Silicon Valley Feb 6, 2013 Led by physicist Robert Noyce, Fairchild Semiconductor began as a start-up company whose radical innovations would help make the United States a leader in both space exploration and the personal computer revolution, changing the way the world works, plays, and communicates. Noyce's invention of the microchip ultimately re-shaped the future, launching the world into the Information Age.

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Season 25, Episode 06 War of the Worlds

S25 E06

Oct 30, 2013
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War of the Worlds Oct 30, 2013 A broadcast that struck fear into an already anxious nation, Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio broadcast was the most famous alien invasion that never happened.

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Season 25, Episode 07 JFK (Part 1)

S25 E07

Nov 12, 2013
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JFK (Part 1) Nov 12, 2013 A two-part profile of John F. Kennedy begins with his early years, detailing the health challenges he faced; his heroism after his PT boat was hit by an enemy destroyer during World War II; his first run for Congress; and the 1960 presidential race, which featured the first televised presidential debates. Among those sharing insights are his sister Jean Kennedy Smith and niece Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; presidential biographers Robert A. Caro and Robert Dallek; and historian David Nasaw.

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Season 26

PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 26, Episode 01 The Poisoner's Handbook

S26 E01

Jan 8, 2014
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The Poisoner's Handbook Jan 8, 2014 The story of New York City's first medical examiner, Charles Norris (1867-1935), and his chief toxicologist, Alexander Gettler (1883-1968), who pioneered the use of forensic science to explain violent and suspicious deaths. Included are remarks from renowned medical examiners Marcella Fierro and Michael Baden and author Deborah Blum ("The Poisoner's Handbook"). Oliver Platt narrates.

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Season 26, Episode 02 1964

S26 E02

Jan 15, 2014
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1964 Jan 15, 2014 Recalling 1964, a pivotal year in U.S. history. While the Beatles captured the imaginations of the nation's youth, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, unveiled his vision of a "Great Society" and squared off against Barry Goldwater in the presidential election. Also covered: the murders of three Freedom Summer volunteers; and the influence of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique." Based in part on Jon Margolis' "The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964."

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Season 26, Episode 03 The Amish Shunned

S26 E03

Feb 5, 2014
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The Amish Shunned Feb 5, 2014 The Amish practice of shunning those who leave their faith is explored through the experiences of individuals who have left their communities. Also: faithful Amish men and women share the heartbreak they feel when a loved one leaves.

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Season 26, Episode 04 Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

S26 E04

Feb 12, 2014
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Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid Feb 12, 2014 The story of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whose turn-of-the-century exploits made headlines, led them to be pursued by Pinkerton detectives and inspired the popular 1969 film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

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Season 26, Episode 05 The Rise and Fall of Penn Station

S26 E05

Feb 19, 2014
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The Rise and Fall of Penn Station Feb 19, 2014 The story of New York's Pennsylvania Station, which opened to the public in 1910. One of the greatest architectural and engineering achievements of its time, it covered nearly eight acres and required the construction of 16 miles of underground tunnels. It closed its doors some 50 years later, giving way to Madison Square Garden, a high-rise office building and sports complex.

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Season 26, Episode 05 Freedom Summer

S26 E05

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Freedom Summer Shattering the foundations of white supremacy over 10 memorable weeks in 1964.

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Season 26, Episode 06 Freedom Summer

S26 E06

Jun 25, 2014
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Freedom Summer Jun 25, 2014 Recalling the summer of 1964 in Mississippi, when student volunteers from around the country joined local activists in an effort to register to vote as many African-Americans as possible. (Due to intimidation and arcane tests, less than seven percent of the state's African-Americans were registered.) Activists also set up schools to teach children about African-American history; and created a rival Democratic Party to challenge the all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

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Season 27

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Season 27, Episode 01 Ripley: Believe It or Not

S27 E01

Jan 7, 2015
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Ripley: Believe It or Not Jan 7, 2015 Robert Ripley's obsession with the odd and keen eye for the curious made him one of the most successful men in America during the Great Depression. Over three decades, his Believe It or Not! franchise grew into an entertainment empire, expanding from newspapers to radio, film and, ultimately, television. Americans not only loved his bizarre fare, but were fascinated by the man himself, and the eccentric, globetrotting playboy became an unlikely national celebrity. This is the story of the man who popularized the iconic phrase, and proof of why we still can’t resist his challenge to “Believe it — or not!”

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Season 27, Episode 02 Klansville, USA

S27 E02

Jan 14, 2015
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Klansville, USA Jan 14, 2015 The rise of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina during the 1960s is recalled. In 1963, Bob Jones Sr. started the state's chapter for the racist organization, and grew its membership to more than 10,000 within three years. Included: remarks from sociologist David Cunningham, whose book "Klansville, USA" the documentary is partially based on; historians David Cecelski and Gary Freeze; the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok; and journalist Patsy Sims, author of "The Klan."

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Season 27, Episode 03 Edison

S27 E03

Jan 28, 2015
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Edison Jan 28, 2015 EDISON explores the complex alchemy that accounts for the enduring celebrity of America's most famous inventor, offering new perspectives on the man and his milieu, and illuminating not only the true nature of invention, but its role in turn-of-the-century America's rush into the future.

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Season 27, Episode 04 The Big Burn

S27 E04

Feb 4, 2015
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The Big Burn Feb 4, 2015 In the summer of 1910, hundreds of wildfires raged across the Northern Rockies. By the time it was all over, more than three million acres had burned and at least 78 firefighters were dead. It was the largest fire in American history.

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Season 27, Episode 05 The Forgotten Plague

S27 E05

Feb 11, 2015
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The Forgotten Plague Feb 11, 2015 By the dawn of the 19th century, the most deadly killer in human history, tuberculosis, had killed one in seven of all the people who had ever lived. Throughout the 1800s, the disease struck America with a vengeance, ravaging communities and touching the lives of almost every family. The battle against the deadly bacteria had a profound and lasting impact on America. It shaped medical and scientific pursuits, social habits, economic development, western expansion, and government policy. Yet both the disease and its impact are poorly understood; in the words of one writer, tuberculosis is our "forgotten plague."

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Season 27, Episode 06 Last Days In Vietnam

S27 E06

Apr 29, 2015
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Last Days In Vietnam Apr 29, 2015 The North Vietnamese Army was nearing Saigon and the South Vietnamese resistance was at a low. Nearly 5,000 Americans still needed to remove from South Vietnam, but their South Vietnamese allies, co-workers and friends would be captured by the North Army if they where left behind. Many of these South Vietnamese people were able to escape with the help of a number of memorable Americans, who, unsanctioned, managed to complete operations that saved many of the South Vietnamese.

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Season 27, Episode 07 Blackout

S27 E07

Jul 15, 2015
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Blackout Jul 15, 2015 First responders, journalists, shop owners, those inside the pressure-packed control center of Con Edison on West End Avenue, and other New Yorkers tell about what happened when the lights went out on July 13, 1977

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Season 28

Netflix | Prime Video | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 28, Episode 01 Bonnie & Clyde

S28 E01

Jan 20, 2016
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Bonnie & Clyde Jan 20, 2016 Though their exploits were romanticized, the Barrow gang was believed responsible for at least 23 murders, including two policemen, as well as numerous robberies and kidnappings. Discover the true story of the most famous outlaw couple in U.S. history -- Bonnie and Clyde.

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Season 28, Episode 02 The Mine Wars

S28 E02

Jan 27, 2016
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The Mine Wars Jan 27, 2016 The story of small people going up against very big forces for a better nation. In the first two decades of the 20th century, coal miners and coal companies in West Virginia clashed in a series of brutal conflicts over labor conditions and unionization.

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Season 28, Episode 03 Murder of a President

S28 E03

Feb 3, 2016
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Murder of a President Feb 3, 2016 The story of James Garfield, one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president, and his assassination by a deluded madman named Charles Guiteau. The story follows Garfield's unprecedented rise to power, his shooting only four months into his presidency, and its bizarre and heartbreaking aftermath.

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Season 28, Episode 04 The Perfect Crime

S28 E04

Feb 10, 2016
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The Perfect Crime Feb 10, 2016 The shocking story of Richard Leopold and Nathan Loeb, two wealthy college students who murdered a 14-year-old boy in 1924 to prove they were smart enough to get away with it.

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Season 28, Episode 05 Space Men

S28 E05

Mar 2, 2016
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Space Men Mar 2, 2016 In the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of the space age long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. Though largely forgotten today, balloonists were the first to venture into the frozen near-vacuum on the edge of our world, exploring the very limits of human physiology and human ingenuity in this lethal realm.

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Season 28, Episode 05 Space Men

S28 E05

Mar 1, 2016
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Space Men Mar 1, 2016 In the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of the space age long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. Though largely forgotten today, balloonists were the first to venture into the frozen near-vacuum on the edge of our world, exploring the very limits of human physiology and human ingenuity in this lethal realm.

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Season 28, Episode 06 The Boys of '36

S28 E06

Aug 3, 2016
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The Boys of '36 Aug 3, 2016 The story of nine working-class young men from the University of Washington who took the rowing world and America by storm when they captured the gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Their unexpected victory, against not only the Ivy League teams of the East Coast but Adolf Hitler's elite German rowers, gave hope to a nation struggling to emerge from the depths of the Great Depression.

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Season 29

Netflix | PBS | Rent or Buy
Season 29, Episode 01 Tesla

S29 E01

Oct 19, 2016
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Tesla Oct 19, 2016 Meet Nikola Tesla, the genius engineer and tireless inventor whose technology revolutionized the electrical age of the 20th century. Although eclipsed in fame by Edison and Marconi, it was Tesla's vision that paved the way for today's wireless world. His fertile but undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius but also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a mad scientist came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator.

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Season 29, Episode 02 The Battle of Chosin

S29 E02

Nov 2, 2016
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The Battle of Chosin Nov 2, 2016 The harrowing 1950 Korean War battle at Chosin Reservoir, in which a surprise attack by 120,000 Chinese troops led to far-outnumbered UN forces being surrounded, is recalled. Veterans of the brutal 17-day engagement share their memories of the conflict, which occurred during subarctic temperatures.

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Season 29, Episode 03 Command and Control

S29 E03

Jan 11, 2017
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Command and Control Jan 11, 2017 An account of an incident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Ark., in 1980 that almost caused the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The near-calamity was kicked off when a socket fell from the wrench of an airman performing maintenance in a Titan II silo and punctured the missile, releasing a stream of highly explosive rocket fuel.

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Season 29, Episode 04 Rachel Carson

S29 E04

Jan 25, 2017
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Rachel Carson Jan 25, 2017 She set out to save a species...us. An intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking books revolutionized our relationship to the natural world.

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