The Presidents Collection

Whenever I think of Woodrow Wilson, isolationism always comes to mind.  I did go through the period of most of my learning during the aftermath and continuation of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-(Please God don’t let it be)McCain era.  We didn’t believe in being anything other than the bully in the global playground, so of course Wilson’s aversion to war makes him seem like a sissy.  After finding ourselves in Vietnam 2.0, a touch of isolationism isn’t sounding so bad right now.  Nonetheless, there is a new documentary out about Woodrow Wilson.

Starting this August 26th, now available on DVD from PBS Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment comes the definitive collection of the important and pivotal American presidents of the twentieth century.  American Experience – The Presidents Collection – Woodrow Wilson is ready to come into your living room and help explain why the twentieth century turned out the way it did.  Bring home this wonderful historic show today.

This DVD boxed set contains 15 DVDs and ten episodes from American Experience.  The presidents examined are, in chronological order, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, The Kennedys, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.

This film about Woodrow Wilson is contained on two separate discs, one for each part.  The first part is A Passionate Man.  The eight chapters in this part deal with Wilson’s childhood, the attraction he always had for books and learning, the passion he took towards justice and progressive causes.  Most importantly, and most key to his tendency towards isolationism, was the great impact that the total devastation of the Civil War brought about on Wilson’s native South.  The second part is The Redemption Of The World.  This part also contains eight chapters.  Neutrality is about the importance Wilson put on remaining neutral because of what he had seen during the Civil War, the divided immigrant makeup of the still fragile United States and his own progressive convictions.  Re-election deals with his barely winning California and the presidency again, War is about how the Zimmerman Telegram, the Lusitania, economic realities and political pressure brought about our involvement in the war.  War, Casualties, Backlash and Peace follow the path of the rest of the war, with The League focusing on the establishment of the League of Nations and Wilson’s grand dream being achieved there.  Final Battle ends with Wilson dying with his dream of a framework for peace being shattered.

This two disc set on Woodrow Wilson is absolutely awash in special features.  Each disc contains six or seven perspectives from the filmmakers and their thoughts on each chapter, numerous profiles of important people in that time period and ten to fifteen mini-documentaries about issues which feature in the background of these films.  It is nearly overwhelming to have this many special features included in just one DVD jacket out of a set of ten.

I have misunderstood Woodrow Wilson for a long time.  He is a fascinating character in history, but we so often skip over him to get the good warriors who embraced a fight.  We could use a whole lot more Woodrow Wilson these days.

Experience this great documentary.

This DVD and the rest of the boxed set is available at

Nathaniel Jonet

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