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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > History > Government > 20th Century With Mike Wallace: Politics & Presidents (Athena/Acorn DVD Set)

20th Century With Mike Wallace: Politics & Presidents (Athena/Acorn DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: A



When it comes to politics, Mike Wallace delivers the goods.  One of America’s best loved, most trusted news voices, Wallace brings his unique narrative talents to the coverage of 20th Century politics, covering everything from the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1950’s to the impeachment of President Clinton in the 1990’s in 20th Century with Mike Wallace.  Across ten exhaustively researched and thoroughly presented episodes this series will at once inform and entertain.  


Episodes include:


1: Epidemic of Fear--McCarthyism and 1950s Communism at home


2: JFK: A New Look--The assassination and all too brief presidency of JFK take center stage.


3: Assassination and Chaos: The Death of RFK and the '68 Democratic Convention--The assassinations of the two 1960’s icons are explored, and the disastrous Chicago Democratic Convention gets a fresh look.


4: Presidents in Crisis: Johnson Quits and Nixon Resigns--Johnson eschews a re-election bid, and Nixon resigns from the presidency in disgrace.


5: Diplomacy and Conspiracy: President Nixon’s Trip to China and The Watergate Burglary--Tracks the incredible success of Nixon’s quest to normalize relations with China, and the terrible failures associated with Watergate and his eventual resignation.


6: Ronald Reagan and the Rise of the Right--Examines the “Reagan Revolution” of right wing politics.


7: The Impeachment of Clinton--The private life of a president collides with his duties to a nation, resulting in accusations of perjury and impeachment.


8: First Ladies--Focuses of the roles of Eleanor Roosevelt & Hillary Clinton, and also touches on the accomplishments of some other first ladies.


9: Upstairs at the White House--Explores the nature of being the president and trying to still have some level of privacy.


10: Washington Scandals: Sex, Money, Power--Discusses the relationship between the media and the figures they cover, and how even the smallest details can become fodder for the news.



All ten episodes are classroom worthy examinations of U.S. political history, but episode one’s exploration into the nature of McCarthyism stands out as one of the best.  In it Wallace brilliantly lays out all of the drama’s central characters, and we learn about some of the demons that drove McCarthy to enact his witch hunt for “Communist sympathizers”.  We also gain a new appreciation for the courage of those few who rose up to stop him, some at the cost of their lives and careers.


Episode three’s detailed look inside the 1968 Democratic National Convention provides a startling view into the callousness of the Chicago political machine, as host city Mayor Daly and his thuggish police force strive to stymie restive protests of burgeoning movement crying out for political change.


All of these episodes are invested with a similar gravity, journalistic integrity, and attention to detail that puts some 24 hour cable news networks to shame.  Loaded with content, this set is a must have for anyone interested in U.S. political history.



-   Scott Pyle


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