A Biography Of America

IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL OUR NATIONAL STORY ON TELEVISION, EVEN IF YOU’VE GOT 13 HOURS AT YOUR DISPOSAL. THREE PEOPLE WHO DID IT EXPLAIN HOW—AND WHY.

DURING THE FALL OF 1997, our production team at WGBH-TV, Boston’s Public Broadcasting System station, began developing a television project that would capture the sweep of American history with, we hoped, real rigor and drama. We knew we wanted to merge the art of master teaching with television’s powerful visual and narrative techniques, but that was as far as our planning had gone—when I suddenly recalled the image of a man and a moment. • The man was a hard-edged history professor, unsmiling but not humorless, ferociously intimidating to us freshmen.Read more »