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The American Future: A History

2009 ,    » 19 Comments
Ratings: 7.75/10 from 4 users.

The American Future: A HistoryThe American Future: A History is a four part documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama.

Simon Schama travels through America to dig deep into the conflicts of its history as a way to understand the country's contemporary political situation.

He explores how American optimism about the infinite possibilities of its land and resources is in danger of coming to a grinding halt. Nowhere is it more evident than in the American West, which has always been a symbol of opportunity and freedom.

Oil at four dollars a gallon may dominate the headlines, but here it is the lack of water that is an bigger threat to the American future. The West is in the grip of a years-long drought.

America's optimism about its natural resources has always been spiced with clashes over conservation, going back to the first man to navigate the Colorado river, John Wesley Powell.

American ingenuity made farming on an industrial scale possible in the early years of the 20th century, but at the cost of making Oklahoma a dust bowl.

The Hoover Dam, a modern American miracle which used to provide essential irrigation for farming and for the new city of Las Vegas, is not able to cope with the demand for water any more.

American Plenty - A look at America's waning belief in the infinite possibilities of its land and resources.

American War - A look at how different the US attitude to war is from what outsiders assume it to be.

American Fervour - How faith has shaped American political life.

What is an American? - The bitter conflict over immigration in America.

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19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. me

    LOVE your website !!! Do you have any new dated info on Oak Island Canada, the aka "money pit"? Buried mystery treasure.

  2. Waldo
  3. Waldo

    Maybe its just my mood, but this was boring as H311 to me. It is an interesting aproach to American history, the loss of our optimism and what caused it. But, still i just cant get into it for some reason. I say about five on a scale of one to ten, but you may want to check it out for yourself. Like I said I am just not in the mood tonight.

  4. Achems Razor
  5. Achems Razor


    All kinds of videos about Oak island money "youtube-oak island videos"

  6. gero2006
  7. gero2006


    I spent 5 years at Oxford University. My lecturers often sounded like Simon Schama -- that drawling smug tone of voice which is so full of a sense of its own importance. It irritated me so much back in the day that I ducked most lectures. I can't stand listening to the narrator of this documentary despite the importance of his subject matter because the accent is unbearable. I am English and I despise his accent; what it sounds like to non-British people I can hardly imagine. I would have asked someone else to narrate it. Ugh.

  8. graham
  9. graham

    this documentary, in my humble opinion, is masterfully done. it doesn't shove obvious emotionally charged conclusions in our face. it quite simple asks questions, and treats with respect ALL of those who deserve it. very well crafted without resorting to any political irrationality, or condescension to those who oppose the author's view of the world. i wish we could all see one another in such a sympathetic light. thank you vlatko, i think this might be one of the best ones i've seen here.

  10. Leonardo
  11. Leonardo


    I couldn't agree with you more. It is subbtle in its objectiveness.

  12. Blanche
  13. Blanche

    I enjoyed these 4 docs.

    Simon, if you are reading this, how about another episode on US finance & economics. Perhaps the most important aspect of all. Plus given events that have occurred since this series aired, are you still so pro-America, pro-Obama? Do you still believe in the future of America?


  14. MIchael22541
  15. MIchael22541

    Thank you very much, what an outstanding job. Love it. Keep up the greta work.

  16. Richie
  17. Richie

    Yanks are special snowflakes.

  18. benny
  19. benny

    ah more propaganda! the rich got filthy rich and now they're presenting all with the global warming card to tell all: take a hike, we dont want to share.


  20. Connie
  21. Connie

    I have to agree about the accented narrators of some these documentaries they are unbearable. There is english woman that narrates some of these and when I come across one I simply won't watch it for that reason....I can't stand the sound of her voice...I guess maybe they use some of these people because their suppose to sound well informed and educated. Maybe if these people are going to narrate for a living they should include some education on "how not to sound like an annoying pompous twit" in your narrative career.

  22. adilrye
  23. adilrye

    A great concept, looking back at American history to explain the America of today. It combines political analysis with history. I really enjoy docs that find historical parallels with contemporary events. And I certainly have no issues with his's perfectly fine.

    Fantastic series. Really enjoyed it.

  24. SB
  25. SB

    This series started off straight enough as an interesting historical narrative. However, it very quickly drifted into the message that somehow America had screwed it up along the way and that we as a nation and a people were at best a B- student in the lessons of nationstate, society, and culture.

    I thought this entire series was not so much a slap in the face of America, but a bloodletting by a thousand little cuts and jabs. The message being we needed to be bled in order to atone for our national sin. All was not lost, we could redeem our morality and soul. A savior was on the horizon that could do just that: Barack Obama.

    This series turned out to be disingenuous and a waste of my time.

  26. Tommy O
  27. Tommy O

    OMG you're still looking for that?

  28. New Living Magazine
  29. New Living Magazine

    Somehow if you have a British accent and you gyrate your head when you speak, you MUST be an expert on what you are talking about. Granted, Andrew Jackson was not a saint with what he did to the Cherokees, but he did kill the central bank (agents of which tried to assassinate him on several occasions not mentioned in this documentary). The central bank is what has really ruined this nation by creating booms and busts, ever escalating inflation, and consolidating wealth into the hands of a few (central banks control both sides of every major conflict in the 20th-21st century and keep taxpayers slaves to the Federal Reserve which is just a banking cartel comprised of a FEW PRIVATE banking elites, never audited and no more federal than Federal Express). Perhaps Mr. Schama got the financing for his series from one of these banks and so, history is never really told truthfully or fully. We only get the "fluff"version but this is intentional. Reality is way more interesting; Also, don't try to make me feel bad about my country for all the transgressions of the corrupt megalomaniacs that are running everything. All you have to do is look at Obama's cabinet, all banksters who come from banks that get their marching orders from the banksters in England.

  30. L0LAW0NKA
  31. L0LAW0NKA

    I say everything happenned for a reason and the U.S. is one the best countries to live and work in. I can say this because I already lived in Canada, South America, Guatemala and Mexico (though I haven't traveled abroad) the U.S. is by faaaar the best of these countries. Although I am a big fan of Japan, but it still pales by comparison. You don't only have to look at the economy (which is obviously important) but also at the cutlure, the way people behave, what they eat, how they dress, how they speak. What they can or can't do. In all these countries (including Canada) people are so dull and oppressed and segregated it's stupid. Yes the landscape is beautiful unlike in the U.S. but Freedom is so essential, you WILL have to survive at least two years in other countries to realize how wonderful the U.S. really is. Just love our Country and do what you can to protect the U.S. from negative influence. It's your country so instead of attacking it see what you can do to help improve it. <3 USA!!!

  32. Guest
  33. Guest

    You would mean you haven't travelled overseas.
    Then you say: Yes the landscape is beautiful unlike in the U.S
    Hum! i have travelled the US quite a bit and i have seen a lot of beautiful landscape that can rival many countries, i guess it's a matter of taste but the US has valleys, desert, plains, mountains, glaciers, beaches, falls, canyon, caves,ect...
    I don't know where you saw people opressed more in Canada than in the US, again this may have to do with the amount of experience and location of that experience.
    And then you say: it takes at least two years of survival in an other country to recognize the beauty of the US.

    YOu're a funny girl, but i like you, you say it like you see it. I forgot to mention your name in my Women's day wishes. I hope you had a good day.

  34. Devon Griffiths
  35. Devon Griffiths

    How are people in Canada "oppressed"? They have all the same rights and freedoms as Americans do and actually many more in some areas, for instance, freedom of travel (they can go to Cuba or anywhere else they like without being thrown in jail when they get back). Also unlike in the US, if a Canadian leaves the country, the government doesn't tax them anymore ... but a US citizen has to pay tax to the US government wherever they live, even if they don't live in the US any longer. I don't know how you can say such a thing, it is like arguing that daytime is really nighttime, it completely contradicts the facts of reality, so I don't believe you really know what you're talking about - you're just repeating something you were told and believe.

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