Untold History Of The United States Highlights Obscure Stories, People And Events

untoldhistoryOliver Stone established himself as a film director in the mid-1980s with Platoon — the classic Vietnam War movie that make Charlie Sheen a household name.

But, in his 2012 10-part documentary Untold History of the United States, Stone re-establishes himself as a historian on the small screen as he offers a fresh view of 20th century America history. He does this by telling the stories mostly lost — or underreported — in America. In the opening episode Stone sets the stage for where he is going by quoting Napoleon:

History is a pack of lies agreed upon.

Vice President Henry Wallace

The series begins with WWII, but instead of simply displaying reel after reel of war scenes, Stone ventures into the backstory and political maneuvering that unfolded among the world leaders at that time. The series ends with the Age of Terror of the modern era.

One of the most interesting episodes for me was Episode 2 when I learned about Henry Wallace. Wallace, a vice-president in the FDR administration, was instrumental is salvaging the farming industry in the 1930s– but, he also fostered some odd beliefs. He was eventually pushed off the ticket during FDR’s final presidential campaign. Stone poses the question about what type of world would have existed had Wallace, and not Harry Truman, become president upon FDR’s death.

America as Empire

Throughout the series, Stone presents the United States’ history as one of an imperialistic country expanding its empire. He shows her strengths and weaknesses, but mostly he challenges the conventional story we learned in high school.

The series is very information dense, so if you are looking for a surface understanding of the United States in the 20th century, it will not appeal to you. Those viewers, though, could view a condensed version of the documentary by watching episodes 11 and 12.

Those watching the entire series will walk away with a more complete understanding of their country. The hour-long episodes are entertaining and thought-provoking.

My only criticism of the series is, unfortunately Stone does not have a good ‘narrator’ voice and, at times, it lacks inflection.

The series is available on Netflix and online.

Categories: American History, WWII

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