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Published on December 9th, 2007 | by Erich Becker

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1968 with Tom Brokaw

The History Channel’s pedigree in history is unparalleled, which should be a given with the channel’s namesake name, but not everyone is enthralled with stories of pilgrims crossing the Atlantic or the story of Christopher Columbus. Still, a subject that everyone can bask in is recent history, history that affected people directly, history that actually changed something that we know, something that we face each and every day in this country so it comes as no surprise that The History Channel’s latest special, 1968 with Tom Brokaw, hits close to home and is one of the most memorable programs of the fading year.

 

The program is deeply focused on the politics of the aforementioned year, which is the only real disappointment because it bills itself as 1968 when in all actuality it is the changing politics and the real power players of the late 1960s who take up center stage. Except for the final few minutes devoted to the three astronauts who first orbited the moon at the end of the year, the entire program focuses on topics ranging from the Vietnam War, women’s liberation, the 1968 presidential election, and the ramifications of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy.

The special is powerful, even for a youngster such as me who wouldn’t be born for another 15 years. Even the most jaded individual will be brought to tears at the sight of Senator Kennedy’s funeral train progressing to Washington, D.C. with thousands upon thousands of viewers along the tracks holding American flags and saluting the fallen soon-to-be-leader. The outcome of Kennedy’s death is felt throughout the subsequent months as the republicans lead by Richard Nixon take the presidency ushering in a new breed of politics, and we all know where that’s lead us.

 

With interviews from many of the figures who were there shows the advantage of focusing on a more recent event. Instead of old journals and diaries the viewer is able to hear the stories and recollections from those who were actually there, including the hosts, Tom Brokaw.

Through archival footage we see a young Brokaw on a street corner in San Francisco reporting on the hippie movement, and in the present day we see the soothing, commanding presence of the man who may very well be news to many Americans. His personal stories and how the war in Vietnam directly affected him, how the events of this year impacted his career only exemplifies the fantastic choice of host.

 

Through interviews with comedians like Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, and musicians like Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor, the image of 1968 is painted for the viewer to understand, and the parallels between ’68 and soon-to-be-’08 are painfully, and terribly obvious. But without diverging into a political triad, its evident that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, and we seem to be doing that today.

1968 with Tom Brokaw is an excellent program; one of the best The History Channel has produced, and may very well be one of the best, if not the best special of the year.

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About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!



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