1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 3 (UK)
13 x episodes
British native, but long-term American resident Alistair Cooke hosted this long-running documentary on the development of the United States from before Columbus, through the colonial period, the revolutionary war and pioneer expansionist eras, into the global conflicts and economic domination of the twentieth century, ending with the social upheavals and counter-culture revolutions of the 1960s and 70s.
Cooke’s dual nationality allowed him to portray the USA from both internal and external viewpoints, fashioning a TV history designed for consumption on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 13 weekly episodes, he charted the hopes, experiences and achievements of the men who shaped the most powerful country on the planet.
His compassionate, gentle narration and poignant anecdotes allowed Cooke to convey the enormity of the problems facing the earliest settlers, and he incisively analysed the political movements and the agricultural and industrial changes that moulded the country over the centuries, winning wide acclaim for his understanding and perception.
His conclusion centred on the fact that America at the turn of the 1970s fell a long way short of the dreams of its founding fathers.