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Biography of America, A

A Biography of America presents history not simply as a series of irrefutable facts to be memorized, but as a living narrative. Prominent historians -- Donald L. Miller, Pauline Maier, Louis P. Masur, Waldo E. Martin, Jr., Douglas Brinkley, and Virginia Scharff -- present America's story as something that is best understood from a variety of perspectives. Thought-provoking debates and lectures encourage critical analysis of the forces that have shaped America. First-person narratives, photos, film footage, and documents reveal the human side of American history -- how historical figures affected events, and the impact of these events on citizens' lives. To view all the episodes in this series for free, and on demand, go to http: //www.learner.org/resources/series123.html

Biography of America, A  
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  • Redemptive Imagination
    Wednesday, December 12
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Storytelling is a relentless human urge and its power forges with memory to become the foundation of history. Novelists Charles Johnson (Middle Passage), Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), and Esmeralda Santiago (America's Dream) join Professor Miller in discussing the intersection of history and story. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., closes the series with a reflection on the power of the human imagination.
  • Contemporary History
    Tuesday, December 11
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    The entire team of historians joins Professor Miller in examining the last quarter of the twentieth century. A montage of events opens the program and sets the stage for a discussion of the period -- and of the difficulty of examining contemporary history with true historical perspective. Television critic John Leonard offers a footnote about the impact of television on the way we experience recent events.
  • Sixties
    Monday, December 10
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Scharff weaves the story of the Civil Rights movement with stories of the Vietnam War and Watergate to create a portrait of a decade. Lyndon Johnson emerges as a pivotal character, along with Stokely Carmichael, Fanny Lou Hamer, and other luminaries of the era.
  • Fifties
    Friday, December 7
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    World War II is fought to its bitter end in the Pacific and the world lives with the legacy of its final moment: the atomic bomb. Professor Miller continues the story as veterans return from the war and create new lives for themselves in the '50s. The GI Bill, Levittown, civil rights, the Cold War, and rock 'n' roll are discussed.
  • World War Ii
    Thursday, December 6
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    America is enveloped in total war, from mobilization on the home frontto a scorching air war in Europe. Professor Miller's view of World Wa r II is a personal essay on the morality of total war, and its effectson those who fought, died, and survived it, including members of his own family.
  • Fdr and the Depression
    Wednesday, December 5
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Brinkley continues his story of twentieth century presidents with a profile of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Brinkley paints a picture of America during the Depression and chronicles some of Roosevelt's programmatic and personal efforts to help the country through its worst economic crisis. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is at FDR's side and, in many respects, ahead of him as the decade unfolds.
  • Twenties
    Tuesday, December 4
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    The Roaring Twenties take to the road in Henry Ford's landscape-altering invention -- the Model T. Ford's moving assembly line, the emergence of a consumer culture, and the culmination of forces let loose by these entities in Los Angeles are all explored by Professor Miller.
  • Vital Progressivism
    Monday, December 3
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Martin offers a fresh perspective on Progressivism, arguing that its spirit can be best seen in the daily struggles of ordinary people. In a discussion with Professors Scharff and Miller, the struggles of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans are placed in the context of the traditional white Progressive movement.
  • Tr and Wilson
    Friday, November 30
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Brinkley compares the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson -- the Warrior and the Minister -- in the first decades of the twentieth century. Professor Miller discusses American socialism, Eugene Debs, international communism, and the roots of the Cold War with Professor Brinkley.
  • Capital and Labor
    Thursday, November 29
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    The making of money pits laborers against the forces of capital as thetwentieth century opens. Professor Miller introduces the miner as the quintessential laborer of the period -- working under grinding condit ions, organizing into unions, and making a stand against the reigning money man of the day, J. Pierpont Morgan.
  • West
    Wednesday, November 28
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Scharff continues the story of Jefferson's Empire of Liberty. Railroads and ranchers, rabble-rousers and racists populate America's distant frontiers, and Native Americans are displaced from their homelands. Feminists gain a foothold in their fight for the right to vote, while farmers organize and the Populist Party appears on the American political landscape.
  • New City
    Tuesday, November 27
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Miller explores the tension between the messy vitality of cities that grow on their own and those where orderly growth is planned.Chicago -- with Hull House, the World's Columbian Exposition, the new female workforce, the skyscraper, the department store, and unfettere d capitalism -- is the place to watch a new world in the making at theturn of the century.
  • Industrial Supremacy
    Monday, November 26
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Steel and stockyards are featured in this program as the mighty engine of industrialism thunders forward at the end of the nineteenth century. Professor Miller continues the story of the American Industrial Revolution in New York and Chicago, looking at the lives of Andrew Carnegie, Gustavus Swift, and the countless workers in the packinghouse and on the factory floor.
  • America at Its Centennial
    Friday, November 23
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    As America celebrates its centennial, 5 million people descend on Philadelphia to celebrate America's technological achievements, but some of the early principles of the Republic remain unrealized. Professor Miller and his team of historians examine where America is in 1876 and discuss the question of race.
  • Reconstruction
    Thursday, November 22
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Miller begins the program by evoking in word and picture the battlefield after the battle of Gettysburg. With the assassination of President Lincoln, one sad chapter of American history comes to a close. In the fatigue and cynicism of the Civil War's aftermath, Reconstructionism becomes a promise unfulfilled.
  • Civil War
    Wednesday, November 21
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    As the Civil War rages, all eyes turn to Vicksburg, where limited war becomes total war. Professor Miller looks at the ferocity of the fighting, at Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and at the bitter legacy of the battle -- and the war.
  • Coming of the Civil War
    Tuesday, November 20
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Simmering regional differences ignite an all-out crisis in the 1850s. Professor Martin teams with Professor Miller and historian Stephen Ambrose to chart the succession of incidents, from 'Bloody Kansas' to the shots on Fort Sumter, that inflame the conflict between North and South to the point of civil war.
  • Slavery
    Monday, November 19
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    While the North develops an industrial economy and culture, the South develops a slave culture and economy, and the great rift between the regions becomes unbreachable. Professor Masur looks at the human side of the history of the mid-1800s by sketching a portrait of the lives of slave and master.
  • The Reform Impulse
    Friday, November 16
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    The Industrial Revolution has its dark side, and the tumultuous eventsof the period touch off intense and often thrilling reform movements. Professor Masur presents the ideas and characters behind the Great Aw akening, the abolitionist movement, the women's movement, and a powerful wave of religious fervor.
  • Rise of Capitalism
    Thursday, November 15
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Individual enterprise merges with technological innovation to launch the Commercial Revolution -- the seedbed of American industry. The program features the ideas of Adam Smith, the efforts of entrepreneurs in New England and Chicago, the Lowell Mills Experiment, and the engineering feats involved in Chicago's early transformation from marsh to metropolis.
  • Westward Expansion
    Wednesday, November 14
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    At the dawn of the nineteenth century, the size of the United States doubles with the Louisiana Purchase. The Appalachians are no longer the barrier to American migration west; the Mississippi River becomes the country's central artery; and Jefferson's vision of an Empire of Liberty begins to take shape. American historian Stephen Ambrose joins Professors Maier and Miller in examining the consequences of the Louisiana Purchase -- for the North, the South, and the history of the country.
  • New System of Government
    Tuesday, November 13
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    After the War for Independence, the struggle for a new system of government begins. Professor Maier looks at the creation of the Constitution of the United States. The Republic survives a series of threats to its union, and the program ends with the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the Fourth of July, 1826.
  • Coming of Independence
    Monday, November 12
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Maier tells the story of how the English-loving colonist transforms into the freedom-loving American rebel. The luminaries of the early days of the Republic -- Washington, Jefferson, Adams -- are featured in this program as they craft the Declaration of -- and wage the War for -- Independence.
  • Growth and Empire
    Friday, November 9
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Benjamin Franklin and Franklin's Philadelphia take center stage in this program. As the merchant class grows in the North, the economies of southern colonies are built on the shoulders of the slave trade. Professor Miller brings the American story to 1763 with the Peace of Paris and English dominance in America.
  • English Settlement
    Thursday, November 8
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    As the American character begins to take shape in the early seventeenth century, English settlements develop in New England and Virginia. Their personalities are dramatically different. Professor Miller explores the origins of values, cultures, and economies that have collided inthe North and South throughout the American story.
  • New World Encounters
    Wednesday, November 7
    11:00 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Professor Miller introduces A Biography of America and its team of historians. The program looks at the beginnings of American history from west to east, following the first Ice Age migrations through the corn civilizations of Middle America, and the explorations of Columbus, DeSoto, and the Spanish.