Having thoroughly explored the America of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the Emmy-winning The Men Who Built America, History is turning its docuseries lens to the world at large with new three-night event series The World Wars, set to premiere on Memorial Day (Monday, May 26 at 9/8c).
The six hours will unfold mostly chronologically over the course of both World Wars, showing how major WWII players like Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, George Patton, and Winston Churchill were forged in the crucible of WWI. Unlike other war docs, executive producer Russ McCarroll says, "this is a very character-driven approach."
Like The Men Who Built America, the series is a blend of dramatic scenes, narration and talking heads (in this case, military experts like Senator John McCain and retired general Colin Powell), a structure McCarroll says was built around drawing the viewer in. "We really wanted it to be more experiential," he adds. "Instead of a bunch of people talking at you, you're in the moment, and then we explain the context to you."
McCarroll and his fellow producers began with the idea of a World War I doc in honor of the upcoming 100th anniversary, then found themselves expanding their scope: "We realized many of the men on the front lines in the first war were actually instrumental in the second." Thus the tagline, "WWI: The world changed them. WWII: They changed the world."