I watched this show on HD TV last night and not only was it really informative in terms of explaining the war in 2 hours (88 minutes with the ads taken out), but it was visually stunning as well.
Did you know that before Pearl Harbor, the US was ranked the 17th most powerful nation militarily, while by the end of the war, and ever since, it is ranked most powerful. It's up on Youtube, but if you can find a way to watch it in HD, you'll have an amazing experience. If you can't, watch it on Youtube and you'll learn many things about the war that I bet you didn't know. I know Iearned a lot.
I remember reading somewhere that in 1932 Yugoslavia's army was bigger than the US army. Of course Yugoslavia was a country being forcibly kept together, with many potentially hostile neighbors, and we were not. Back then the oceans were still a fairly effective barrier against attacks strong enough to destroy us; even with Pearl Harbor the Japanese Empire was unable to follow up with an invasion of the US mainland (though they did seize two of the Aleutian Islands in the not-yet-State-of-Alaska).
I am in the process of watching the video--right off the bat I have one complaint; it apparently is Americo-centric enough to start on 7 December 1941 when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor (Yeah, I know, but I can't resist channeling John Belushi sometimes). A case can be made that the war started not on September 1 of 1939, but back in 1932 with the Japanese invasion of China (outside of "Manchukuo").
I love the Eddie Izzard comment about "Saving Private Ryan". He says something like "Round the corner of the wall the British, French and Canadians ares saying 'We're here too!'" :-)
Yeah, and it was a British plan, not American.
Your complaint will be resolved as the video goes along. It does get into the wars in Europe and Asia leading up to full-blown WWII. Yet, remember, it is WWII compressed into about 90 minutes. By the time it's over, I think you'll be able to say that you have a better understanding of how the war progressed, and America's place in it. Of the major players, the U.S. suffered by far the fewest casualties, and a lot of that had to do with developing better hardware, much of it done based on technology handed over to the U.S. by the British and perfected by American scientists and engineers.
Another minor gripe--when the documentary shows a map with national borders, it uses today's borders. It is annoyingly anachronistic to see today's German or Polish borders instead of the ones from 1939; if you don't know the difference it can be downright misleading.
That out of the way, I did learn a few things; I had never seen the magnetron highlighted in this way (though I have heard of the importance of the British radar installations of course--and that Hitler almost destroyed them before deciding to go to terror bombings of cities--bad move on his part of which we can be glad of today). I also had not learned the price that Britain paid for the aid we gave them before the war.
Reverse Lease-Lend is not well known in the US either I gather, probably because it does not fit the american model of the US history of the war
I'm hardly surprised that where it made sense, someone else helped us out too; defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese was a team effort. New Zealand for instance was a much more practical source of food in parts of the South Pacific due to proximity and the fact that it's got very good agricultural productivity.
They teach it, but very briefly, in the context of aid to Britain. It is not emphasized and until researching it, I did not know the massive extent of lending. I don't know why it should be so important to us that we think of ourselves as neutral until Pearl Harbor was bombed.
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't American leadership have some (perhaps a day or less) forewarning of Pearl Harbor?
Imagine being a citizen of Berlin or Stalingrad during the war. These people would rather be in space. Anyone know the soundtrack song title?
My German professor's family (I believe they were Austrian, and they may have resided in an eastern nation) just said, fuck the city, we're out. The mother took her son and daughter an high-tailed it out of civilization. And they lived in the woods for a good two to three years eating mushrooms and scavanging to avoid the bombings and the invading Russian forces. I'm not sure if set they up camp or had a permanent dwelling. It was a good plan...considering the wisespread destruction and the Russian policy of raping any German female, child, grandmother, or holocaust survivor.