Culture

Media review: Can you trust a drama-documentary?

BY Iain Dale | tweet IainDale   /  19 September 2020

Washington, HistoryThere’s one thing that American TV channels do very well, it is making TV series about their presidents. I’ve written in previous columns about PBS America’s latest documentaries on Clinton, Bush and Reagan. The History Channel has now entered the fray with a three-part mini-series about America’s founding father, and its first president, George Washington.

Watching it at the weekend made me realise how little I knew about him. I’d always imagined him to be one of these heroic figures who led a perfect life, every bit of which was full of accomplishment. Not so. Although he became a military commander in the British Army at the age of 22, he was central to several military failures. His success came from the great good fortune of being in the right place, at the right time.

He is portrayed as being a reluctant servant who would quite happily have retired to his farm and lived a quiet life, but he also knew his duty. He came to realise the faith people put in him to deliver, both in his military career and latterly in politics.


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