"The Men Who Built America" A New War Begins (TV Episode 2012) Poster

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Vanderbilt and Rockefeller
MartinHafer13 June 2015
This is the first episode of the mini-series "The Men Who Built America"--a show that celebrates the great and powerful barons on American industry of the 19th and early 20th century. Like all the subsequent episodes, this one consists of narration, lots of experts as well as LOTS of gorgeous re-creations. These re-creations impressed me the most, as I was surprised how good they looked for a History Channel show. Using CGI and lots of costumed actors, the show manages to show these folks' lives in the most vivid and convincing manner. As a result, it's a simply beautiful show.

The main subjects of this show is Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. The first half is exclusively about Vanderbilt and shows how he used his grief following the loss of his son in the Civil War to fight against his perceived business enemies. Selling off much of his shipping business and investing in railroads, he's soon the most powerful and richest man in America.

How does Rockefeller play into this? Well, for a while the two are in business together--Vanderbilt's railroads transporting Rockefeller's oil. However, over time, Rockefeller goes from a poor partner to the wealthiest man in the world. How Rockefeller does this is interesting as well as his relatives admitting that he was a great businessman AND morally reprehensible.

Overall, a well crafted and fascinating show about these important businessmen.
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