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American War (2/4)


This is also part of this series: American Future, The - A History by Simon Schama (4)


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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide:

Copyright Date: 2008
Available in French: No

Simon Schama reveals how different is the American attitude to war from what outsiders assume it to be. “The world has got in the habit of thinking of America as the tough-guy empire; trigger-happy cowboys addicted to the rush of military power. But that's not the way America sees itself,” he says.

Two of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, disagreed about whether America should even have a professional army – a division still evident when Simon visits America's premier military academy at West Point.

From the Civil War right through to Mark Twain's denunciation of President Teddy Roosevelt's imperial adventure in the Phillipines, American wars have inspired profound debate. And nowhere more so in this election than San Antonio, Texas, nicknamed Military City because of its high population of veterans and serving soldiers, where Simon finds feelings about the war are deeply divided.

As with the great war elections of the past, it's a debate which forces America to dig deep and rediscover what it stands for.