Media Review – The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

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When visiting Washington, DC you cannot miss the legacy of the Roosevelt family!  From parks to statues to memorials the name Roosevelt is iconic in American history.  To gain a perspective on this family EPLs Corrie and Krista viewed Ken Burns’ mini-series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.  Below are some of their thoughts…

*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*

Summary

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is a documentary series which focuses on three of the most influential Roosevelts of the Roosevelt dynasty: Theodore, his niece Eleanor, and their distant cousin and Eleanor’s husband, Franklin Delano. These three people lived at the White House for a total of over 30 years of shared and individual experiences. Thinking this series would revolve around those years, I was happily surprised at the in depth analysis and review of their lives individually that drew far before and after the White House years.     -Krista

Ken Burns

    Ken Burns, the producer of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, has to be one of the foremost documentarians on American history. The quality of his series surpasses many. If you have not taken time to dive into one of his series, I would highly recommend watching The Roosevelts. What makes a Burns series stand out from others is the quality of experts, the lack of political bias (read: straightforward history), the distinction of the actor’s voicing the personal journal entries of each of the characters, the usage of original pictures and videos, and even the background music all culminate into an excellence driven series. All of your senses are immersed in another time and another place, specifically with the Roosevelts’ lives’ spanning the late 19th century to the mid 20th century.     -Krista

Review

Comprised of seven parts in two hour segments each, Ken Burns’ documentary is thorough though far from overwhelming. In fact, his ability to compress such full lives as Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt lead into fourteen hours is a true wonder! The comprehensive, though digestible, series would be appropriate, beneficial, and enjoyable for all ages (middle school +), as well as, for historic novices and experts alike. Because of the plethora of information in The Roosevelts, a second or third viewing would definitely be recommended! 

As neither a self-acclaimed fan nor foe of either Roosevelt, I found the series quite balanced in its praise and critique of the distant cousin Presidents. Their many flaws, as well as, their countless contributions to America and the world were given equal time and analysis. Their issues were neither covered up nor dwelt upon; their achievements were not glorified or degraded. The facts were simply stated and I felt that the viewers were left to draw their own conclusions.  However, the enduring legacy of either man could not be denied. The impact Theodore & Franklin’s Presidencies had on this nation and the world may never be fully grasped, but Ken Burns takes a commendable stab at in his documentary series, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.     -Corrie

The series weaves the three individual stories together in such a manner that you see the beauty in the fullness of the human spirit: the sadness, the happiness, and the circumstances. Though from such an affluent family line from New York, the situations shaped them in such a unique way.  When circumstances unite to give people the opportunity to overcome, you can either thrive or fall. These three Roosevelt’s prevailed as an American success story.     -Krista


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