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4.4 out of 5 stars52
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 10 May 2013
The names of these five men will live on in history. As much as I have heard of all of them, I had no idea how inter-twined their lives and successes were and how much of a role they had to play in shaping the political and industrial landscape.

Vanderbilt created a shipping & railroad empire; Rockefeller created a Kerosene empire; Carnegie (who used to work with a rival of Vanderbilt) created a steel empire; JP Morgan created a financial empire by teaming up with Edison(!) and consolidating rail, electricity and steel. All three conspired to get McKinley elected as President (which they did) and keep Roosevelt in the background until the untimely death of McKinley (assassinated!) promoted Roosevelt to President! Great stuff! I'm sure similar shenanigans are going on today.

This is like a business 101 course. I've got Carnegie's autobiography which is hugely interesting too.

Any would be entrepreneur would do well to watch this to gain inspiration and fuel the fire of desire for success.
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2013
This History Channel documentary deals with the key individuals who single-handedly built the key pillars of Industrial America - steel, railroads, oil, finance & ultimately the motor car.

Prior to their rise, America which was recovering from the devastating effects of Civil War, within 30 years of unbridled capitalism, was converted into a worldwide power house & incipient super power.

In spite of their reputations as the poster children of uncaring capitalism, the motto should read "honour to whom honour is due". Not to be held in thrall but rather as an acknowledgement of their achievements while recognizing their frailties. This quintet comprised Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, JP Morgan & Ford. Their signature trait was an intense focus

The former three each had a hardscrabble, hobbled upbringing but all shared the same traits of being larger-than-life individuals who all triumphed against the odds. Their driven personalities resulted in their defining opponents not as rivals but as enemies, enemies to be destroyed by whichever way possible; anything but murder.

This series catalogues their rise & the methods that they used to gain the ascendancy. Essentially each man developed a different industry often from scratch & often only against great odds did they succeed. Each in their own way could have failed spectacularly but each due to perseverance & some luck overcame the odds & succeeded.

Where the negative perceptions about them arose related to their future actions where they strove through fair means or foul to take over their competitors & become monopolies. In Carnegie's case, he went one further. In his desire to become the richest man in America, he knew that he had to reduce his labour cost. Not wanting to be personally involved in the consequences of that action, he appointed a Chairman & went of holiday in Scotland. After driving the men too hard in their 12 hour day, they revolted. A strike ensued. The Chairmen refused to negotiate & instead hired some prairie guns to remove the strikers. The result was six deaths.

Carnegie's decision came to haunt him. He quickly returned to America to assume control of the situation but the dye was cast. Political opinion was turned adverse.
Now the Titans were playing for different stakes.

The seminal moment in their ultimate downfall was their decision to convince the Republican candidate to appoint Roosevelt, an ardent opponent of naked, unfettered capitalism as McKinley's deputy. Their logic, which could not be faulted, was that a Deputy President had no power & would "wither on the vine." McKinley's assassination derailed their cunning plan. By the end of his second term Roosevelt had largely broken up the Trusts & splintered the monopolies into a slew of independent companies.

Ford belatedly entered the scene not as a rapacious capitalist but as a humanist. By paying his workers $5 a day instead of the going rate which was half of that, he ensured that he had a contented workforce but also a workforce able to purchase their own output, the horseless carriage.

This almost 7 hour documentary throws the well-deserved spotlight on a little known aspect of American life. A superior production by the History Channel recounts the saga of these larger-than-life characters. It is well-worth watching.
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This series depicts in an absolutely brilliant way an important part of the economic history of America, a breathtaking master piece delivered in an extremely intelligent way. That sort of history should be taught at school, the mindset of these titans is exemplary, brilliance and ambition in its rawest form. A must-see documentary!!!
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on 4 September 2013
After watching this series on tv I was so impressed with the making of it I was compelled to buy it, you can watch it time and again. Anyone interested in the men who shaped American history,through power,ruthlessness,and greed will be receiving a viewing treat that I have no problem highly recommending.
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on 27 September 2013
I scored this series with the highest grade because of the way it shows a great and important piece of the revolution of the history. It educates ad intrigues you in a fun way. The series contains historical information, action and success. In addition, the series, shows how influential one single person can be, it is incredible. All in all create the men who built America is one of the best series i have seen.
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on 25 September 2013
A wonderful re-enactment of the emergence of these people. Some might think that they are financial despots but they were responsible for some of the discoveries the benefits of which we enjoy today.
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on 4 July 2013
I agree with a previous reviewer. The series was great in the sense that it provided real insight into the dynamics of the relationships these men held, with each other and those around them and also provided a condensed view of American social history in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the editing left much to be desired and made viewing somewhat irritating. A bit more thought here and the series would have been five stars for me - as it is I give it four. Worth a watch if you can get past shouting at the TV - "I already know that!...", as the visuals and commentary repeat themselves for the umpteenth time.
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on 19 May 2016
The show is very interesting and is a great way to learn about so very significant people in the makings of the modern world. However there is a summary every 5 minutes about what has happened so far in the episode (probably normal for US viewers but is quite frustrating for British viewers) and it kinda ruins it.

I've given 4* because I'd happily buy it again and would recommend for anyone wanting to find out about Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan or Edison.
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on 31 August 2013
Excellent set of DVDs - really interesting stuff and beautifully presented. Gives a real insight into history of modern America
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on 19 March 2016
I saw this on TV while in America and bought the Dvd for my Dad. It gives a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cut-throat antics of the up and coming mega rich barons Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, et cetera and how they made their fortunes from boats, rail, fuel, steel and other emerging technologies and economies that they advanced, in so doing, creating the powerhouse of innovation that America became in the 20th century.
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