Shot against the backdrop of the US presidential campaign, a new documentary series, The American Future: A History, sees Simon Schama travel through America to dig deep into the conflicts of its history to understand what is at stake right now.
The 2008 US Presidential election is unique in many ways. Voters are feeling uncertain about military outcomes and anxious about their sudden shaky prosperity, leading to a weakened faith in governance that has not been felt this painfully since Watergate. In its desire for national regeneration, the voting public has been going to the polls in numbers not seen for many generations. In a country whose mission is always to reinvent everything, history is rarely treated as a living, breathing thing, but certainly there are strong grounds for calling this election "historic". Historian Simon Schama takes the long perspective, looking at four of the critical issues facing the country: war, moral fervour, immigration and the increasingly difficult relationship between expectations of prosperity and the reality of economic and environmental limits. In his travels through America, past and present, Schama aims to reveal the big picture at a critical moment of choice for the United States and for the world.