History Channel’s The Men Who Built America
I have a few minor quibbles with this otherwise excellent series on the growth strategies of America’s greatest tycoons.
So far I have seen the first three episodes and will most definitely catch the fourth when it airs next week. This series indicates a possible change in direction for the History Channel. If it truly is returning to serious history, then I welcome the move. All the emphasis of recent years on space aliens was a turn off for me.
My only real criticism of the show is the way they shoe-horned so many celebrities into the first episode for quick sound-bytes. Couldn’t Donald Trump use a rest by now? I would certainly hope so. To be clear, I enjoy hearing from the historians and biographers of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt as they have interesting insights to add. In contrast, I was rather shocked to see Carly Fiorina, one of the very worst CEOs in history, appear for a couple of soundbites in the third episode. This is the woman who single-handedly destroyed a great American company and Silicon Valley icon. I refer to Hewlett-Packard, of course.
Really, History Channel? Carly Fiorina? Carly Fiorina from The Top 20 Worst CEOs List?
My only other quibble is the casting of John D. Rockefeller. The real John D. was a nerdy un-athletic looking fellow while the actor playing him in the series looks like your typical ex-jock high school football coach. He certainly resembles a few of mine. Meanwhile the actor cast as Vanderbilt looks quite a bit like him. The real Andrew Carnegie was only about 5 feet tall but back then the average male’s height was about 5’5″ to 5’7″.
All in all, it’s a job well done on the part of the History Channel. Everyone I know who has been watching the series loves it.
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