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American Experience Season 23 Episodes

10 Episodes 2011 - 2011

Episode 1

Robert E. Lee

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 87 mins

The season premiere profiles Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), a fascinating figure who turned down President Lincoln's request to lead the Union Army and, instead, became head of the rebel Army of Northern Virginia. The biography features excerpts from Lee's letters, including from his courtship of his wife Mary, as well as remarks from historians Peter S. Carmichael, Michael Fellman, Gary W. Gallagher, Joseph Glatthaar, Lesley J. Gordon, Elizabeth Brown Pryor and Emory Thomas.

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Episode 2

U.S. Grant: Warrior

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 87 mins

A profile of Ulysses S. Grant, chronicling how he rose from obscurity to become a Civil War hero whose exploits earned him the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" and the admiration of the Northern public while, in the South, his hard-nosed tactics led him to be labeled a butcher.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 2 image

Episode 3

Dinosaur Wars

Mon, Jan 17, 2011 57 mins

A recounting of the professional rivalry between 19th-century American paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, who collectively discovered dozens of prehistoric animals and 130 dinosaur species, including brontosaurs, stegosaurs and allosaurs. The pair's dislike of each other evolved over time, and included sniping at each other in scientific articles, espionage and the destruction of fossils.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 3 image

Episode 4

Panama Canal

Mon, Jan 24, 2011 87 mins

The 1904-1914 construction of the Panama Canal, the 50-mile link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is recalled via archival footage, photos and interviews with workers, as well as insights from historians. The undertaking cost the U.S. about $375 million and 5609 workers (out of 56,307), who perished from both accidents and disease. The documentary also explores what life was like for the workers, who were a mix of Americans, Europeans and West Indians.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 4 image

Episode 5

The Greely Expedition

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 57 mins

"The Greely Expedition," about an 1881 scientific expedition to the High Arctic. Three years later, only six men (of 25) returned, bringing with them stories of starvation, mutiny and cannibalism. The documentary features expert interviews, and details how information gathered on the expedition is helping present-day scientists better understand global warming and climate change. Included: scientific accounts; excerpts from diaries; photographs; letters.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 5 image

Episode 6

Jimmy Carter

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 117 mins

A profile of former president Jimmy Carter. In 1980, after one term, he lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, receiving 41 percent of the popular vote. In the following years, however, he forged a new legacy as a respected statesman and humanitarian. The documentary charts his ascent during the turbulent 1970s; explores the role of his wife Rosalynn as his confidant and adviser; and details his successful post-presidency years.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 6 image

Episode 7

Triangle Fire

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 57 mins

The story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, which claimed the lives of 146 workers, primarily immigrant women, and its impact on labor laws. The documentary also details the years prior, when shirtwaist workers went on strike for better pay and working conditions, and were met with brutality and public indifference. Says historian Thomas Bender, the lesson learned from the fire was that "there are things that have to be managed not by the market but by public policy."

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 7 image

Episode 8

The Great Famine

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 57 mins

U.S. efforts to help Soviet Russia survive a famine in the early 1920s are recalled. Herbert Hoover, then the American Relief Administration chairman and Commerce Secretary, championed the effort, which saw almost 300 relief workers head to Russia. The challenges they faced in moving food to people in need included an outmoded railroad system, harsh weather and Bolshevik suspicions of their motives. The documentary includes archival footage and photos, and remarks from survivors and historians.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 8 image

Episode 9

Stonewall Uprising

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 87 mins

"This was the Rosa Parks moment, the time that gay people stood up and said no," says the Village Voice's Lucian Truscott IV in the illuminating "Stonewall Uprising," which recalls a 1969 riot that erupted after police raided a Greenwich Village gay bar. The film details the oppression and persecution the LGBT community faced in the years prior to the incident (homosexual acts were illegal in all but one state, Illinois), and features remarks from rioters and the NYPD officer who led the raid.

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American Experience, Season 23 Episode 9 image

Episode 10

Soundtrack for a Revolution

Mon, May 9, 2011 87 mins

"Even as we were thrown in jail someone would sing a song," recalls Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in this history of the civil-rights movement and its freedom music, featuring potent performances by John Legend, the Roots, Wyclef Jean, Angie Stone, Joss Stone, Mary Mary, and Anthony Hamilton and the Blind Boys of Alabama. The documentary charts the years from the 1955 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott to 1968 MLK Jr. assassination; and includes remarks from Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond and Andrew Young.

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