Tags

, , , , , , , ,

untoldhistoryofusbyoliverstone2012-300x300pxLUMPENPROLETARIAT—Free speech radio has broadcast excerpts of one of the most powerful documentary films of recent years, The Untold History of the United States (2012).  Directed, produced, and narrated by Oliver Stone, The Untold History consists of 12 one-hour episodes, originally broadcast on the Showtime cable network.  Untold History is accompanied by a 750-page book written by Oliver Stone and historian Dr. Peter Kuznick to back up the history presented by Stone and Kuznick.  British screenwriter Matt Graham helped Stone and Kuznick write the script.  Plus, there are two Prequel episodes (available on DVD), which grew out of the success of the first 12-episode film series.  Untold History begins from World War II, debunking the myth of the Good War.  The Prequel episodes begin with U.S. imperialism circa World War I, to provide greater context and help us more clearly understand the U.S. role in World War II.  Listen (and/or download) here. [1]

UPDATE—[15 NOV 2015]:  The Untold History of the United States (2012, Season 1) is now available as a video stream on Netflix.  Check it out.

Messina

***

The Untold History of the United States (2012, trailer) directed by Oliver Stone

The Untold History of the United States (prequel, Episode A: “World War I, the Russian Revolution and Woodrow Wilson) directed by Oliver Stone, on U.S. imperialism, President McKinley, socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, and more.

***

AMAZON—“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” ―Woodrow Wilson

The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arabella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world.  Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions.  But history tells a different story, as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire.  They trace the American empire through the bloody U.S. suppression of the Filipino struggle for independence; the establishment of U.S. financial hegemony via World War I; the repeated U.S. interventions, covert operations, and wars in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East; the transformation of America into a prying national security state; the accumulation of vast fortunes by the wealthiest Americans; and troubling assaults on U.S. constitutional liberties.  Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking, but meticulously documented, “people’s history” of the American empire, that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies, that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path.  Stone and Kuznick will introduce listeners [of the audiobook; or readers of the textbook] to a pantheon of heroes and villains, as they show, not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions, but the powerful forces, that have struggled to get us back on track.  The authors reveal that:

• The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible.

• The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.

• The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty.

• U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the United States and its allies.

• U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the Constitution and international law.

• The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war.  American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the twenty-first century. Their conclusions will astonish even experts, but there is one question only listeners can answer: Is it too late for America to change?

Learn more at AMAZON.

***

Messina’s notes on The Untold History of the United States (2012, Season 1)

Prequel Episode A: 1900-1920—World War I, The Russian Revolution & Woodrow Wilson

[excellent documentary; notes pending]

Prequel Episode B: 1920-1940—Roosevelt, Hitler & Stalin: The Battle of Ideas

[excellent documentary; notes pending]

Episode 1:  “World War Two”

[Intro by Oliver Stone]

[On the nuclear bomb.  An article cited on screen:  “The Decision to use the Atomic Bomb” by Henry L. Stimson, Harper’s Magazine]

Episode 2:  “Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace”

[This is a very good supplement to the conventional history we’re taught in school.  Often Roosevelt is given all the credit.  But Henry A. Wallace, the 33rd Vice President (1941-1945) of the USA, was the driving force, which most influenced President Roosevelt toward New Deal liberalism.  Yes, as economist Dr. Richard Wolff often reminds us, there was a strong labour movement and a strong socialist left, which did put serious pressure on Roosevelt.  But it’s important to remember how popular a left-leaning political figure, such as Henry Wallace was.  Despite his popularity and the associated implications for the Democratic Party a Wall Street and corporatist faction aligned the party bosses against Wallace in favour of the flimsy Truman.  Wallace served as Secretary of Agriculture prior to serving as Vice President, and as Secretary of Commerce afterwards.]

[additional notes pending]

Episode 3:  “The Bomb”

[This is another very good supplement to the conventional history we’re taught in school.  We’re usually taught that the USA had no choice, but to use the newly developed nuclear bomb against Japan in order to avoid even greater mass casualties.  But, in fact, this was not true at all.  It’s clear now that the double-nuclear bombing of Japan was gratuitous.  But it allowed the USA to, both, test their new nukes on a civilian population as well as to send a threatening message to the Soviet Union that there could be only one global superpower in the wake of WWII.]

[additional notes pending]

Episode 4:  “The Cold War: 1945-1950”

[This is, perhaps, the most humanising portrait of Joseph Stalin, which popular audiences have, perhaps, ever been allowed.  You must watch this episode to see how the USA and Great Britain used Stalin and, then, turned against the Soviet Union after WWII.  Once Roosevelt was out of the picture, who managed to gain some degree of rapport with Stalin, unlike the UK’s Winston Churchill, President Truman soon ushered in the Cold War, as McCarthyism infected the nation.  The Soviet Union, which fought the hardest and suffered the most casualties during WWII was vilified, as the news and textbooks distorted history by recasting the USA as the great heroes of WWII.  In fact, the USA intentionally stayed out of WWII, as fascism emanated out of Nazi Germany across Europe and threatened the globe.  The idea all along was to profit off of selling supplies and armaments to both sides of WWII and, ultimately, emerge as the world’s new hegemon.  For more on American hegemony, see Dr. Noam Chomsky, Dr. F. William Engdahl, Dr. Laurence Schoup, Dr. Howard Zinn, Dr. James Loewen, et al.]

[additional notes pending]

Episode 5:  “The ’50s: Eisenhower, the Bomb & the Third World”

[Another excellent episode.  You need to see this, if you haven’t already.]

[additional notes pending]

Episode 6:  “JFK: To the Brink”

Episode 7:  “Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune”

Episode 8:  “Reagan, Gorbachev & Third World: Rise of the Right”

Episode 9:  “Bush & Clinton: American Triumphalism—New World Order”

Episode 10:  “Bush & Obama: Age of Terror”

***

[1]  Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving:  Democracy Now!, this one-hour broadcast hosted by co-host Amy Goodman, Friday, 11 NOV 2016, 06:00 PDT.

KPFA and Pacifica Radio have previously broadcast excerpts of The Untold History of the United States, including the following:

The Untold History of the United States (2012) directed by Oliver Stone is required viewing for all.  Director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick truly have done us all a great service by bringing this untold history to light.

In 2012, The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald highly recommended the series and book,[21] describing it as “riveting”, “provocative” and “worthwhile”.[22]

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev wrote approvingly of the book:[23]

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick provide a critical overview of US foreign policy during the past few decades. There is much here to reflect upon. Such a perspective is indispensable at a time when decisions are being taken that will shape America’s role in the global world of the twenty-first century. At stake is whether the United States will choose to be the policeman of a “Pax Americana“, which is a recipe for disaster, or partner with other nations on the way to a safer, more just and sustainable future.

David Wiegand wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle: “The films are at their best when they provide a panoramic view of our history in the middle part of the 20th century.  Ably abetted by the superb editing work by Alex Marquez”.[24]  Verne Gay for Newsday similarly praised the craft: “By far the most interesting part of ‘Untold’ is the visual presentation.  Stone has cobbled together a mother lode of chestnuts, including grainy newsreel footage and Soviet propaganda films.  It’s all weirdly engrossing” but found the content less than provocative:  “You keep waiting for a fresh insight, a new twist, a bizarre fact and after a while would even be profoundly grateful for some wacky Stone revisionism.  It never comes.  What’s ‘untold’ here?”[25]

Stone defended the program’s accuracy to TV host Tavis Smiley:[26]

This has been fact checked by corporate fact checkers, by our own fact checkers, and fact checkers [hired] by Showtime. It’s been thoroughly vetted…these are facts, our interpretation may be different than orthodox, but it definitely holds up.

In November 2012, Hudson Institute adjunct fellow historian Ronald Radosh (who was averse to the project since its announcement and encouraged a write-in campaign to cancel the series)[27][28] lambasted it as “mendacious” Cold War revisionism and “mindless recycling of Stalin‘s propaganda,” claiming similarities to Communist author and NKVD agent Carl Marzani‘s Soviet-published treatise We Can Be Friends.[29] Writes Radosh:

Over and over, Stone uses the same quotations, the same arrangements of material, and the same arguments as Marzani. This is not to accuse Stone of plagiarism, only to point out that the case he now offers as new was argued in exactly the same terms by an American Communist and Soviet agent in 1952.

Libertarian journalist Michael C. Moynihan criticised the book for “moral equivalence between the policies of the psychotically brutal Soviet Union and the frequently flawed policy of the United States” and called the title “misleading” in that nothing within the book was “untold” previously. Moynihan also claimed factual errors and questionable sources.[30]

In 2013, Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz also remarked that the book and films “have a misleading title”…. “Most if not all of the interpretations that they present…have appeared in revisionist histories of American foreign policy written over the last fifty years”. Moreover:

Although the book by Stone and Kuznick is heavily footnoted, the sourcing…recalls nothing so much as Dick Cheney’s cherry-picking of intelligence, particularly about the origins and early years of the cold war. The authors also devote many thousands of words to criticism of such destructive American policies as Ronald Reagan’s in Central America and George W. Bush’s in Iraq, but much of this will be familiar to readers…as will their objections to Barack Obama’s use of predator drones. This book is less a work of history than a skewed political document, restating and updating a view of the world that the independent radical Dwight Macdonald once likened to a fog, “caused by the warm winds of the liberal Gulf Stream coming in contact with the Soviet glacier” — but now more than twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet empire.[31]

Despite attempts to discredit Oliver Stone’s and Dr. Peter Kuznick’s work, Project Censored and other free speech media have featured The Untold History of the United States.  And Democracy Now! as well as KPFA and Pacifica Radio have featured excerpts of the film extensively, as it’s been very popular with listeners during free speech radio listener fund drives.  Project Censored makes the distinction between censored, or untold, history and under-reported news, information, and history.  Simply because reactionary critics can cite obscure examples of historical writings, which have documented various parts of the history presented by Oliver Stone, doesn’t mean that that history has not been virtually censored from American history classes and textbooks.  Dr. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Dr. James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me are two earlier examples of what reactionaries call historical revisionism, but what should really be called historical fact-checking.

***

[Image by source, used via fair use.]

[15 NOV 2016]

[Last modified at 16:43 PDT on 20 DEC 2016]

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements