Review: American history, as Oliver Stone sees it The filmmaker offers an alternative mythology that relies far more on broad-stroke storytelling than rigorous analysis. Still, there's some value in this Showtime miniseries.
The episodes focus on the period just before and after World War II, and then carry the themes forward through various US wars (cold and otherwise) and other issues. You’ll recall that Howard Zinn’s famous People’s History did not get that far. Here’s the Showtime site. It includes excerpts, previews, interviews with Stone and much more.
An upcoming episode offers a fresh view—for most Americans, anyway—of one of my pet subjects for the past thirty years, our use of the atomic bomb against Japan (see one of my two books here). I will write more about the Stone episode soon. For now, see my piece here for Veterans Day on two soldiers who shot historic footage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and then saw it suppressed for decades.
They’ve also sent me the companion book, by Stone and historian Peter Kuznick, and it’s mammoth, at over 700 pages in hardback. Actually, it’s just a history since World War I, but it goes right up to Obama. It cites my Hiroshima in America book, written with Robert Jay Lifton, several times and features blurbs from Gorbachev, Douglas Brinkley, Bill Maher and my pal Dan Ellsberg, who says it would make Howard Zinn proud.
The Hiroshima chapter makes a strong case against the use of the bomb—citing Russia’s entry into the war that would have forced Japanese surrender in the same time period—though with no new evidence that I can see. My Atomic Cover-up book helps explain why most Americans, from the beginning (and continuing to this day) have supported the use of the bomb, without question.
They also sent me the first three Showtime episodes: On World War II, Hiroshima and the 1948 Henry Wallace race for president. Here’s the trailer: