A Documentary a Day II: The American Revolution

(Ed: Scoring system explained here)

The American Revolution (History Channel, 2006) ****
The History Channel’s thirteen-part (Get it? Thirteen?) documentary series on the American Revolution is a triumph of historical storytelling. It’s a staggeringly complex, yet imminently watchable, retelling of the American struggle for self-determination and independence.

The American Revolution is organized very effectively. It does a marvelous job separating the wheat from the chaff, discussing only the most important events and concepts. Every episode focuses on a major arc or idea, usually blending political, social, and military history together to form a coherent central narrative.

The series goes far beyond the simplistic treatment that pervades discussion of our nation’s founding. Concepts are explored in depth and stories are told from multiple perspectives. Women and minorities are seamlessly included. The British are humanized. It’s not just good television; it’s good history.

That’s not to say the series is perfect. Continue reading