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on 13 December 2010
As most documentaries about US history focus on the big names and gloss over the "mediocre presidents" as The Simpsons named them, it's good to see a more comprehensive documentary. Each president is given a slot, both Lincoln and Fillmore alike. A plethora of pundits give background commentary (sometimes at odds with each other) and visual sources fill in the gaps, including photos (where available), paintings, reenactments, and written archives. There's some good trivia included, although it's sometimes a little contrived. Unfortunately, some of the segments seem rushed and end abruptly, as if they divided up the presidents between episodes before actually writing each president's segment. Meanwhile, other presidents' segments are belaboured to fill the space allocated. I feel it would have been better to write it without constraint and then edit appropriately based on the result.

Once into living memory (and living presidents), the pundits unsurprisingly become a lot more guarded, perhaps for fear of offending the subject. This is particularly noticeable when former President Carter is himself interviewed: when the other pundits are subsequently interviewed, it's almost as if they know he's outside the door, listening!

As someone who's grown up on epic BBC documentaries, this History Channel show doesn't seem to have the gravitas and serious production quality I'd like, and whoever picked the cheesy electric guitar track for the end music needs help. Sound and picture quality are what you'd expect from a 2003 show filmed in NTSC hastily converted to PAL DVD, so this isn't going to look great on a modern post-digital UK TV.

Saying that, this show was obviously well-researched and a lot of effort went into filling the inevitable gaps in the audio/visual record. This documentary is the best primer on "the other guys" I've seen.

I haven't had the chance to watch the extra material yet, but the main documentary only covers the first three of six discs.
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on 5 February 2014
I rated this 5 stars because it is history and that means fact. In 2012 we visited all the historic places in Washington , I am also very interested in American politics and it's presidents, so I bought books to read on the subject and to complete my curiosity I had to buy this box set. I have not yet watched it but judging by viewers' comments, I think it would be educational. I would recommend it to all history and biography lovers
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on 7 July 2013
This is a great set of episodes about the presidents of USA -since her founding and throughout history .The episodes could be longer , but do cover a good range of history and precedents that many POTUS`s performed during their tenure . This is a must buy for American history /political buffs!!
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on 27 June 2013
bought this as a xmas present for my son's partner, she loves it. very informative and good viewing for anyone interested in this topic.
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on 4 February 2015
Brilliant no complaints from me !!!
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on 19 October 2013
Came well packaged and we'll within the due date. The contents are very good to watch and add to my collection of the civil war.
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on 22 October 2013
It provides a very useful, balanced and interesting summary of each of the Presidents. It is well presented and, if you want to concentrate on a particular President the selection process is very easy.
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on 27 September 2013
Bought this for a present for my dad, he really enjoyed this box set. I haven't watched it myself though.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 April 2014
This box set of six DVDs is very good value for money. Produced by the History Channel, it obviously has an American bias in its narration of its own heads of state. Only three of the set actually comprises ‘The Presidents’ series itself. The remaining three discs are extras, and I set out their contents at the end of this review.

The three discs of the core series (of eight programmes) take us through the lives and times of the presidents, one by one, in chronological order. Each is imaginatively introduced by way of a card in ‘Top Trumps’ format. In some respects, of course, the histories of the presidents is also the history of the United States, and the series obviously picks up the main events happening the country under each president, as well as the man’s own triumphs and failures.

One benefit of the series’s format means that equal treatment is given to the little-known but often just as influential presidents, such as Polk, Taylor, and Fillmore. We are told that, “by the late 1800s the presidency didn’t seem to matter that much, and a good deal of executive power had been ceded to Congress.” But that would change. To get a good idea of the coverage, here’s a list for each forty-five minute episode: -

Programme 1 covers five presidents over thirty-six years (1789-1825)

Programme 2 six presidents over twenty-four years (1825-1849)

Programme 3 five presidents over sixteen years (1849-1865)

Programme 4 five presidents over twenty years (1865-1885)

Programme 5 six presidents over twenty-eight years (1885-1913)

Programme 6 five presidents over thirty-two years (1913-1945)

Programme 7 five presidents over thirty-two years (1945-1977)

Programme 8 five presidents over thirty-one years (1977-2008)

The series adopts a mixture of talking heads with a wide range of visual aids, from paintings and archive photographs to modern film, including the first colour film of a president. The talking heads tend to be academics or authors, but also include the likes of Bob Dole, Wesley Clark, Walter Cronkite, James Baker, and even an ex-president in the shape of Jimmy Carter. By the end of the series, commentators are also contemporaries.

One extra sneaks in at the end of programme eight, and that is a ninety-minute programme on ‘All the Presidents’ Wives.’ There had been at the time forty-three presidents, but in fact this extra features only thirty-two of their wives. The programme adopts a thematic rather than a chronological approach but allows us to see a more personal side to the presidents.

So what about the other three discs in this box set? The fourth brings us up to date by featuring an episode of the ‘Biography’ series, focussing on President Obama. Personally, he has been a great disappointment in office, but there is no denying his achievement in getting there. The programme lasts fifty minutes.

The fifth disc is entitled ‘Presidential Estates’, but is really an episode from the ‘America’s Castles’ series. It focuses on the home of Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage in Tennessee; of Martin van Buren at Lindenwald (New York); and of Rutherford Hayes at Spiegel Grove (Ohio). It lasts forty-five minutes.

Finally, we move to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for an episode from the ‘Modern Marvels’ series called ‘A Legacy Set in Stone’. This forty-five minute programme looks at the history of the sculpturing in stone of the four presidents on the side of the mountain.

All in all, then, a presidential set of goodies for those interested in American history, all professionally produced and full of insight.
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on 15 December 2010
Product arrived quickly and is a great CHristmas Present for my husband who is an avid American Presidents follower and the history behind decisions made etc., Just the present for him
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