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Alistair Cooke's America

British/American journalist and broadcaster Alistair Cooke narrates this stunning 13-part television series about the United States and its history. From the impact of the first white Europeans on Native Americans to the end of the 20th century, Cooke brings his insightful ideas and commentary on the growth of the nation - its democratic institutions, westward expansion, racial divide and economic freedom.
  • Title ID 74-AM
  • History, American History, Political Science, Social Studies
  • 13 Programs
  • 2 Supplemental Files
  • 10th Grade through Post Secondary
  • Released in 1973 by BBC/Time Life Films
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Included Programs
Supplemental Files

Included Programs

First ImpactRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 1 is a personal memoir of what Alistair Cooke, after arriving in New York City during the Great Depression, found in America and of the institutions, the landscape and the people that he came to admire most, including President Roosevelt, writer H.L. Mencken, New Orleans, Josie Arlington, Jazz, Jelly Roll Morton, New England's Autumn, the great plains, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, California's eccentric character Joshua Norton, Alcatraz Island and San Francisco..

New Found LandRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 2 tells the story of Europeans coming to America in search of a spice route to the East Indies, including men such as Americo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus, and those who stayed to conquer the Native Americans and find gold such as Cortes, Coronado, and those who came to explore and find a home in Spanish America and French America such as French fur trappers, the Marquis de La Fayette and La Salle who claimed Louisiana and founded New Orleans.

Home Away from HomeRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 3 tells the story of the First English Settlers who settled in North America were merchant adventurers such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain John Smith and religious dissenters escaping the Church of England such as the Quakers and the Pilgrims and Puritans, who led by John Winthrop ended up in Massachusetts, and these groups and individuals would go on to found strong thriving colonies some like Virginia's Jamestown and Williamsburg based on exporting tobacco would go on to found the House of Burgesses, and others desiring religious tolerance would found a haven in Massachusetts that would later lead to the first thanksgiving and later to the horrible Salem witch trials.

Making a RevolutionRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 4 shows how the diverse colonies drew together in common cause to gain their liberty from England in the American Revolutionary War, and includes the important moments and people such as signing the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, the Stamp Act, General Gage, the Boston Massacre, the Committees of Correspondence, Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, John Adams and George Washington.

Inventing a NationRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 5 follows the decade long progress of forging a new government from the Declaration of Independence to the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the founding of the Supreme Court and includes important people such as Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone and John Oliver.

Gone WestRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 6 tells the story of America pushing westward across the Appalachians into the American West in the first half of the 19th century and includes important turning points and people such as American frontiersman Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase of France's Louisiana Territory, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, Andrew Jackson, the Trail of tears, the fur trade, the wagon trains going west, the gold rush into California's Sierra Mountains and later Nevada, with the 49ers started by Johanne Auguste Sutter and James Marshall.

Firebell in the NightRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 7 examines The American Civil War and the great social and racial splits in America's past and present as it follows the story of African Americans, Slavery, the Southern Plantations, Eli Whitney, the Cotton Gin, King Cotton, Fredrick Stanton, Stanton Hall, the Industrial North, Dred Scott, the National Sanitary Commission, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg and General Robert E. Lee.

Domesticating a WildernessRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 8 presents the post-Civil War pioneers of America's Wild Wild West, including places and famous people such as Mormons, Utah, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, the railroads, the Eastern Company, Joseph McCoy, Wild Bill Hickok, Sir George Frant, Wounded Knee, the cowboys, homesteaders, ranchers, Texas, Abilene, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Money on the LandRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 9, using Chicago as a backdrop, presents the Age of the Robber Barons - industrialists like Rockefeller and oil, Carnegie and steel, McCormick and the reaper, and Vanderbilt and shipping, whose homes in Newport Rhode Island gave the time its name - the Gilded Age, as well as others who shaped the time such as politician William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Edison who invented the incandescent light bulb and the phonograph, the working man striking for better wages and safer working conditions, and farmers and homesteaders.

Huddled MassesRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 10 looks at America's history of immigration from early 20th century sweatshops to the modern day and presents important people and turning points including Ellis Island, New York City, Boss Tweed, Richard Croker, La Guardia, George Washington Plunkitt, Burlesque, Milt Gross, Industrial Serfdom, Henry Clay Frick, Teddy Roosevelt and The Jewish Daily Forward.

Promise Fulfilled and Promise BrokenRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 11 discusses the impact of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal on America in the turbulent years between WWI and WWII, presenting important people and events such as Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford, the Model-T, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Lindbergh, Robert Tyre Jones, Sexual Freedom, Prohibition, Bruce Barton, Puritan Ethics, New York Stock Exchange, Herbert Hoover, the stock market crash, Black Tuesday, the National Recovery Administration and the run on U.S. banks.

The ArsenalRunning time is 50 minutes

Episode 12 examines the American military's way of making war from Colonial Williamsburg to WWII and the late 20th century highlighting America's armed forces including the militia, Marines, US Navy, U.S. Army, and presenting important figures and events such as Isolationists, America Firsters, Pearl Harbor, Liberty Ships, Henry Kaiser, Hitler, Refugee Physicists, the Manhattan Project, the atomic bomb, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, President Truman, the Marshall Plan, United Nations, Vietnam, the cold war and the threat of nuclear war.

More Abundant LifeRunning time is 52 minutes

Episode 13 looks at what has been fulfilled and what has been betrayed in America's experience as it summarizes the status quo and the future of the country through turning points and awe inspiring events, including the building of Hoover Dam, founding the city of Las Vegas, the formation of 20th century gated communities, cults and communes, ice-Boxes, the creation of the middle class, consumer protection and consumer advocates, self-sufficiency, civil rights and equality for African Americans, and leading individuals like Robert Owen, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Tudor and Bess Meyerson.

Supplemental Files

MARC Records for AM
MARC records for the Full Series AM, Alistair Cooke's America
Teachers Guide