The World Wars: how not to display History

Hitler. Churchill. De Gaulle. MacArthur. Patton. Stalin. Mussolini. Roosevelt. We know them as legends. But they first learn what it will take to rise to greatness as young soldiers, fighting for their lives on the front lines.

I’ve been recently hugely disappointed by the first chapter of History channel’s “The World Wars” TV show. Being very fond of History, in particular of everything regarding World War 1, I was glad, at least at first, when I came to know about this new TV series, although I never disguised my low esteem on american’s way of making historical TV works. The first chapter was indeed based on WW1, the war that started it all, so deeply rooted with the following WW2. I honestly thought that all the three chapters would have been dealing with WW1, since this year is the 100th anniversary of its beginning (on June 28th). With my enormous disappointment, only this first one chapter was dedicated to it. After an introductory speech by US president Obama, the plot makes itself clear soon enough to be the most anti-historical possible.

First of all, no mention of the social, economical and political aspects of Europe at the beginning of 20th century were ever made, so decisive to understand why the WW1 started. Just a 10 seconds-long mention to the murder of arch-duke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. That’s all. Great! And you’d like to explain History this way? Big mentions instead for the “big names” that emerged from that conflict: Patton, Hitler, Churchill and Stalin. Only in the second half of the show they eventually noticed they’d left Mussolini out of the cast and so they briefly mentioned him here and there.

Secondly: no mention at all of the southern front in which Italy and Austria-Hungary struggled against each other, as well as the eastern one, besides reporting the coming to power of Lenin and the birth of the Soviet Union. At History channel they like big names as it seems, and so here they are, after president Obama, a huge well-known faces from USA and UK and in between them some historian, just to make it clear we are here talking about history, only in the american way.

Third reason: how could you ever think of summarizing one of the most controversial periods in human history in 50 minutes? Really? The whole three shows would haven’t been enough either, but at least one who is not familiar with these events would have had a wider spectrum of facts and details! Honestly, I highly suggest you all to take a look to the following series of videos, which will give you a full display of the facts, causes, characters, timeline and consequences.


About Gabriele Frontini

I share my time between Italy, Belgium and UK. [ music critic since 1999, gamer, historian, pet lover ]
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