Next Episode of American Experience is
American Experience is TV's most-watched history series and brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today.
Discover the true story of the most famous outlaw couple in US history. Though their exploits were romanticized, the Barrow gang was believed responsible for at least 13 murders, including two policemen, as well as robberies and kidnappings.
Go inside the bitter battle to unionize coal miners at the dawn of the 20th century. Coal was the fuel that powered the nation. Yet few Americans thought much about the men who blasted the black rock from underground and hauled it to the surface. The Mine Wars tells the overlooked story of the miners in the mountains of southern West Virginia — native mountaineers, African American migrants, and European immigrants — who came together in a protracted struggle for their rights. Decades of violence, strikes, assassinations, and marches accompanied their attempts to form a union, culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The West Virginia mine wars raised profound questions about what freedom and democracy meant to working people in an industrial society.
Explore James Garfield's unprecedented rise to power, his shooting by a madman and its bizarre and tragic aftermath. Based on the best-seller Destiny of the Republic, the story follows the life of one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president.
When Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two well-educated college students from a wealthy suburb of Chicago, confessed to the brutal murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks, the story made headlines across the country. The unlikely killers not only admitted their guilt, but also bragged that they had committed the crime simply for the thrill of it. As the sensational case unfolded during the summer of 1924, with famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow and Cook County Prosecutor Robert Crowe debating the death penalty and scores of commentators weighing in from the sidelines, the question of motive would be turned over and over again. What first seemed like a simple matter of evil gradually would give way to a complex assessment of the murderers' minds and a searing indictment of the forces that had shaped them, and set off a national debate about morality and capital punishment.
In the late 1940s, the notion of space travel lived squarely in the realm of science fiction. But a young Army doctor named John Paul Stapp saw no limit to how far mankind could go—he had his eyes set on the heavens. By the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of space, long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. U.S. Air Force pilots and scientists lay the groundwork for the U.S. space program through Project Manhigh between 1955 and 1958. With a fraction of NASA's budget and none of its renown, Stapp's Project Excelsior would send Captain Joseph Kittinger to a record-breaking 102,800 feet above Earth on August 16, 1960, lifted not by rocket, but by balloon. Though largely forgotten, this group of daring explorers would be the first to venture into the frozen vacuum on the edge of our world, testing the very limits of human physiology and ingenuity in this deadly realm.
The story of nine working-class young men from the University of Washington who took the rowing world and America by storm when they captured the gold medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Their unexpected victory, against not only the Ivy League teams of the East Coast but Adolf Hitler's elite German rowers, gave hope to a nation struggling to emerge from the depths of the Great Depression.
Meet Nikola Tesla, the genius engineer and tireless inventor whose technology revolutionized the electrical age of the 20th century. Regarded by many historians as an eccentric genius, Tesla gained international fame for his invention of a system of alternating current that made possible the distribution of electricity over vast distances and is the basis for the electrical grid that powers 21st-century life. But the visionary Tesla imagined much more — robots, radio, radar, remote control, the wireless transmission of messages and pictures, and harnessing the wind and sun to provide free energy to all. A showman, he dazzled his scientific peers who flocked to see him demonstrate his inventions and send thousands of volts of electricity pulsing through his body. His fertile but undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius but also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a "mad scientist" came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator. Even before his death in 1943, he was largely forgotten, his name obscured by Thomas Edison — his hero, one-time employer, and rival. But it is his exhilarating sense of the future that has inspired renewed interest in the man, as his once scoffed-at vision of a world connected by wireless technology has become a reality.
On Thanksgiving Day 1950, American-led United Nations troops were on the march in North Korea. U.S. Marine and Air Force pilots distributed holiday meals, even to those on the front lines. Hopes were high that everyone would be home by Christmas. But soon after that peaceful celebration, American military leaders, including General Douglas MacArthur, were caught off guard by the entrance of the People's Republic of China, led by Mao Zedong, into the five-month-old Korean War. Twelve thousand men of the First Marine Division, along with a few thousand Army soldiers, suddenly found themselves surrounded, outnumbered and at risk of annihilation at the Chosin Reservoir, high in the mountains of North Korea. The two-week battle that followed, fought in brutally cold temperatures, is one of the most celebrated in Marine Corps annals and helped set the course of American foreign policy in the Cold War and beyond. Incorporating interviews with more than 20 veterans of the campaign, "The Battle of Chosin" recounts this epic conflict through the heroic stories of the men who fought it.
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