Monday, February 05, 2007

Recommending Liberty!

I just wanted to recommend a DVD series that Uncle Pookie and I finished watching this weekend: Liberty! The American Revolution. This six-episode, PBS documentary is from 2004, but it was new to us. No history documentary is perfect or can satisfy everyone, but I think this one is excellent. Liberty! is especially good in showing that American opinions were varied before, during, and after the war and reminding us that the outcome of the conflict was by no means known by the rebels or guaranteed to be successful (an obvious fact that we nevertheless sometimes forget, not only about this war but about others in history.) There is a lot of use of extracts from contemporary documents, which I loved. The ending of the war in episode 5 (ep.6 carries us through the creation of the Constitution) seemed rather abrupt, but other than that small thing I can't think of anything I disliked about this series. I heartily recommend this to everyone; families with junior high or high school students studying American history could get a lot of good from it--enjoyment, help with schoolwork, and food for conversation.* It would almost be worth watching just for the poignant rendition of "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier", a song popular at the time of the Revolution, that ends each episode.

* FWIW, my top recommended question for discussion is, "If you were an American colonial before the war, which side would you have been on?" I have been a patriotic American and a believer in the Revolution since I was a little girl, and yet I have never been able to answer that question with 100% certainty for myself ever since my high school teacher suggested it one day during class. But if you find this an easy question there's lots of other things to discuss in this series.

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