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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 7, 2006

Ten days that took us by surprise

By Judith S. Gillies
Washington Post


History Channel

The 10 episodes, and show times:

  • "Antietam," Sunday at 6 and 10 p.m., followed by "Massacre at Mystic" at 7 and 11 p.m.

  • "Einstein's Letter," Monday at 6 and 10 p.m.; "Murder at the Fair: The Assassination of President McKinley" at 7 and 11 p.m.

  • "When America Was Rocked," Tuesday at 6 and 10 p.m.; "Gold Rush" at 7 and 11 p.m.

  • "Scopes: The Battle Over America's Soul," Wednesday at 6 and 10 p.m.; "The Homestead Strike" at 7 and 11 p.m.

  • "Freedom Summer," Thursday at 6 and 10 p.m.; "Shays' Rebellion: America's First Civil War" at 7 and 11 p.m.

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    Even history buffs might be pressed to identify all 10 events in this History Channel series. But each of the 10 days triggered significant changes in American life.

    "We didn't want to burden the series with the 10 most important events," said filmmaker Joe Berlinger, co-executive producer of the series. "We wanted days that offered interesting storytelling or days where the outcome was unexpected."

    About a dozen historians were asked to brainstorm about which events they thought would qualify, said Susan Werbe, vice president of programming for the History Channel and series executive producer.

    The historians avoided obvious events such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor and warned against too-recent events, such as the Sept. 11 attacks, because not enough time had passed for historical perspective, she said.

    Ten independent filmmakers were matched with 10 events, Berlinger said, "and each produced a very different documentary that could stand on its own." The films include a variety of techniques such as re-enactments, interviews, archival footage and animation.