America: The Story of Us, is a 12-part mini-series discusses American history from Jamestown to Present Day, each episode focusing on a certain event or time period. Although I found the series to be incredibly entertaining, at times the historical analysis could be cursory and folklore occasionally supplanted fact.
Though the series highlights major events in American history, I found the omission of certain historical incidents to be jarring and for a series that aims to tell the story of America, the missing pieces seemed too large to be ignored. For instance, the series progresses straight from Jamestown to the beginning of the American Revolution without any mention of the 7 Years’ War or conflicts between Colonists and Native Tribes, all of which are key in contextualizing and understanding the American story.
Additionally, I found, at times, that, for the sake of audience enjoyment, the series used commonly accepted legends rather than verified facts though these were mostly small incidents. One that comes to mind is the portrayal of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, depicted as it occurred in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1860 poem about the ride, which, although being inaccurate, has become the standard go-to for students seeking to understand that event. Everyone “knows” that Paul Revere rode alone, when in reality, he rode with a group of Patriots, quietly attempting to warn Colonists that “The Regulars are coming out.” In actual fact, Revere never completed his rounds having been eventually detained by a British patrol. (As an aside, those interested in a local success story about a midnight rider mustering the local militia, should read about teenager Sybil Ludington’s ride during the British raid on Danbury in 1777)
While the show is worth a watch if you are interested in getting an overview of major events in U.S. history, delivered in an engaging and narrative manner, I would warn that there is a lot of unexplored history, and you should not take it as the last word for historical fact.