The World Wars (TV Series 2014– ) Poster

(2014– )

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Almost entirely wrong
few-14-34499030 May 2014
In hopes that the History Channel would start making shows about history and not more pointless reality pap, I really wanted to see this show succeed. I was willing to forgive:

  • that the opening shows a full scale night attack by the British (some wearing shorts and puttees for some reason) even though full scale attacks where not done at night.

  • that the WWI french are shown driving 1941 M3 Stuart tanks.

  • that Patton is seen on a 1941 Sherman tank in WWI.

  • that the German had fully constructed and prepared trenches in Oct 16 1914; a time when the German high command was still in denial about the Marne and continued to force offensive maneuvers.

  • that if the date is actually Oct. 16 1914, it would be the Germans attacking at Yser, not the Brits at Ypres which started three days later.

  • that many of the German infantry was wearing Stahlhelm (iconic German helmets), had Gas masks and used Potato Masher grenades none of which were not issued in 1914.

  • that tear gas doesn't dissipate so fast you can hold your breath through the incident.

  • that Hitler wore a Kaiser Handlebar mustache until 1919.

All of those errors where in the opening scene. In other episodes you're treated to Nimitz class super-carriers, a long pan of a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, a C130 Hercules with German paratroopers, and other modern weaponry are placed in 1941. I chalked it up to budgetary constraints and a general disrespect the producer, Stephen David, has of his audience. But what I was not willing to forgive:

  • The dramatizations added almost nothing to the story, rather was imaginary and somewhat deceptive; for example Hitler was a charismatic and compelling speaker - the actor, not so much.

  • There was a consistent bizarre insistence that the USA, specifically Patten and MacArthur where the ones who won WWI.

  • The nationalistic bend that if the USA wasn't directly involved, the event was not important.

  • Extensive time line inaccuracies such as the Battle of Britain occurring after the Blitz, Pearl Harbor and the loss of the German 6th Army happened at the same time and many more.

  • The insistence that Dugout MacArthur was a "hero" in the Philippine campaign and not a panicked paralyzed incompetent failure who only obeyed one order: abandon post. Literally, he was directly ordered to attack Lushan and not only ignored the order, but countermanded his air commander, Major General Brereton, to do just that. Then later in the show it credits MacArthur with the success of pacific campaign when he was just a costly distraction insisting on objectives that didn't further the goal of the island-hopping campaign.

  • North Africa campaign never happened, the USA went straight to Sicily which Patton took single-handedly.

  • Implies Italy was a quick and easy campaign and the USA (and only the USA) fought Italians not Germans.

  • Apparently neither the British nor the Americans bombed Germany.

  • The talking head interviews with disgraced incompetent twits like Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney are there to use highly edited examples and sound bites to whitewash and spin their own failings in Iraq and Afghanistan into a more favorable light.

This was a reworking of history with an agenda of glorifying eight "heroes"; to the detriment of everyone else involved in the struggle. It assigns blame and praise to these "heroes" for events they where neither responsible for nor, at times, involved in. It's jingoistic, nationalist and heavily skewed towards the USA's contributions. It's inaccurate to the extreme skipping whole campaigns and even years as well as utterly failing to describe causal relationships or even get chronology remotely correct. Any historian involved in this production will not be listing it on their CV. .
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Not true history ... they went too far.
terrsgc31 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Even though I don't like it, I've had to come to accept the use of "dramatic license" in historically based movies. But, it should not be accepted in a historical documentary, even one containing some dramatizations.

I can understand the omission of major events and persons. This series takes the lives of several major figures of the Second World War, and shows how their experiences in the first war and the period between wars shaped their lives, and through them the second war. Events that didn't concern the chosen figures might be excluded, however major. But, you can't Re-write history just because the truth isn't the story you want to tell. And, that is what the producers of this series have done. And, the mis-information is not just minor details, either. It doesn't help that they added historically inaccurate footage in the background throughout, either.

To catalog all of the distortions and outright falsehoods would require me to torture myself by re-watching this disaster, and I just can't bring myself to do that. However I will point out some of the most glaring.

In the segment on Midway, Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo is given credit for the Japanese plan against Midway, not Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. And, to watch this show, one would believe that Roosevelt's code-breakers in Washington found out about the attack, reported it to the President, and he ordered that them to warn the Pacific Fleet. In fact, the code-breakers were in Honolulu, reporting to Admiral Nimitz, who reported to Washington. Nimitz made the decisions, and the President's main contribution was to not interfere much with his man on the spot. In addition, the description of the battle was just plain wrong, and included false statements like, "In under six minutes four of the carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor had been destroyed." (Three were badly damaged in under 6 minutes, and after damage control failed were eventually lost. The fourth carrier was damaged hours later, and not lost until the next day.)

In the series, we are told George Patton conquered Sicily, then went on to conquer Italy in six weeks. Then, he slapped a soldier with Battle Fatigue and got sidelined. Patton conquered Italy? Since when? He slapped that soldier in Sicily and was sidelined away from the Italian campaign. German forces in Italy didn't surrender until just a few days before the final German surrender a couple years later.

To hear this bunch tell it, Patton was finally re-instated and given battle command in order to save US forces during the battle of the bulge. In fact, Patton was given a command as soon after the D-Day landings and commanded for months before the Battle of the Bulge.

The Battle of Stalingrad was completely misrepresented as some egotistical conflict between Stalin and Hitler because of the city's name. It was also implied that Hitler diverted troops in the north practically on a whim. In fact, Hitler sent specifically assigned forces towards Stalingrad in order to secure the Caucuses oil fields, not to rob Stalin of his namesake. And, Stalin fought back to prevent that, not because of his ego.

Hitler was stopped during the battle of Stalingrad because of the surprise of the Russian winter? Really? The battle started in the summer AFTER the first Russian winter German troops had to endure.

Does History Channel have no historians working for them? Or, are they simply willing to throw away the facts in order to write what they think is a more entertaining story? ... or to avoid confusing their audience with the more complicated truth? I'll forgive MacArthur wearing five stars when he wasn't a five star general. I'll forgive American aircraft shown as Japanese bombers and American troops shown as Germans invading Poland. I'll even forgive lack of even a mention of incredibly important figures like Yamamoto, Montgomery, Rommel or Eisenhower, or important events like the Battle of the Atlantic. But, how can I forgive supposed EXPERTS simply getting the history itself wrong.

Note: Statements from figures like Dick Cheney and Colin Powell are included in this series. I doubt any of the interview subjects were aware of the context their statements would be placed in. Don't blame them for the misinformation.

The mini-series still gets 3 stars because, despite all of its flaws, it is at least entertaining fiction. If they'd gotten the history correct, it would have been wonderful. But, don't mistake this series as an accurate representation of what happened.
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dleeharrison1 June 2014
This series smells worse than a two week old cat box. I agree with a previous review that the writers, producers and directors associated with this fiasco should be fired. There are numerous errors such as having the Germans using British rifles, World War 2 tanks in World War 1, Patton using a M1917 Browning Machine gun in 1914, etc, etc, etc. Critical campaigns such as North Africa, Italy, the North Atlantic, the South and Central Pacific are left out. The writers and directors are enamored with Patton and Dug Out Doug MacArthur. What about Eisenhower and Bradley? Unfortunately some in the audience watching this garbage will think that this is gospel. It is no wonder that American citizens knowledge of history sucks since a lot of people get their information from the boob tube and dribble like this.
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Over-simplified Pseudo-History
StephenEdwardSeale6 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I will start off by saying that this film had a few redeeming qualities, including good narration and decent production quality. That having been said, the film was filled with historical inaccuracies and over-simplifications. It is, of course, understandable that when one is trying to cram both world wars into only six hours it is impossible to give everything as detailed a treatment as possible, but there were whole theaters or campaigns of WWII that were either glossed over (the Russian front, the Balkan campaigns, and most of the Pacific Theater), or ignored entirely (the North African campaigns). In brief, here are a few other issues (not by any means an exhaustive list): -Italy was not suddenly controlled by the Allies after its surrender. There were German troops on the peninsula who contested every mile of the Allied advance and it took us two years to fight our way up the peninsula.

-The wrong peninsula is highlighted when the Gallipoli campaign is discussed in the series.

-The Bolsheviks did not overthrow the Tsar. They overthrew the provisional government that had overthrown the Tsar a few months previously.

-The Germans did not go through the Maginot Line when they attacked France, and they didn't go after the Low Countries as an afterthought after finishing off France. They attacked France through the Low Countries to begin with. It would not have taken much effort to mention that the attack on France went through the Ardennes Forest of Belgium and that it was easier to go that way as the Maginot Line only protected the French border with Germany, and not with Luxembourg or Belgium.

There are dozens of other errors in the film- far too many to go into all of them in this review. The one positive thing is that it was interesting and might get students interested in learning more. If they do seek to find more they might get the real history if they do their research, as the History Channel failed to do. I think some of the historians who were involved in this should hang their heads in shame. I am almost surprised H.W. Brands was involved (though to be fair he was being interviewed and may not have known how bad it was going to be- on the other hand, he was involved in the writing of the textbook "American Stories" which is a sub-par text).
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Simply Appalling
ldg-accounts29 May 2014
This series is one of the worst "histories" of either World War I have ever seen. The inaccuracies abound, the omissions are rampant, and the anachronisms are too numerous to mention. I was actually surprised that Ancient Aliens weren't brought up, as this seems to be the History Channel's strength. History is not.

Apparently, this was a MacArthur and Churchill love fest, as these two were presented in a very positive light, with their very real historical inadequacies glossed over or completely omitted. While Churchill's World War I failure at Gallipoli is noted, it is shown as something that resulted in Churchill becoming a more capable grand strategist, rather than the reality - haunted by Gallipoli, and trying to prove that he was right all along, he attempted several times during World War II to make the same mistake again - in Italy, in Greece, and in the Balkans. If not for Roosevelt and Eisenhower, Churchill could have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory had he gotten his way.

MacArthur, over time, has been shown to be a petty despot, who had very little regard for his fellow officers or his troops - his treatment of General Wainwright is a prime example; Dugout Doug is awarded the Medal of Honor for political reasons, yet fights against Wainwright's nomination for petty personal reasons - even though Wainwright was ushered into captivity because of MacArthur's strategic mistakes in the Philippines, endured the Bataan Death March, and suffered as a POW for years.

North Africa is completely ignored, as is most of the Pacific campaign. The Naval war everywhere is simply left out, with the exception of a minor tip of the hat to Midway, where the documentary notes that Roosevelt ordered the carriers to Midway - when in reality Roosevelt and the Washington bureaucracy wanted the carriers to remain in Hawaiian waters, to defend Hawaii or the west coast; Nimitz took the initiative, and the chance, of waiting for the Japanese at Midway.

No Market-Garden, no Dragoon, No Husky. They jump, in 1 minute, from the Battle of the Bulge to the Russian siege of Berlin - nothing on the Rhine crossings. Yet they spend 5 minutes on Patton's slapping of a combat-fatigued soldier.

The anachronisms also detract. It may come as a surprise to the producers that the Germans did not attack London with B-17's, although these are shown. Nor did they use B-17's at Stalingrad - again, this is shown. And I was surprised to see the Imperial Japanese Navy being equipped with Aegis guided missile frigates. And neither MacArthur nor Marshall (who is NEVER mentioned by name, nor is Nimitz) were 5-star rank in December 1941, though both are shown with this rank at that time. Neither was promoted to that rank until December 1944.

If you are looking for an accurate history of the World Wars, this is NOT it. Avoid this debacle like the plague. It is simply bad.
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Teaching BAD history
sickneele29 May 2014
It was bad enough that Chamberlain is shown flying to Germany in a Lancaster bomber, a plane that did not exist at the time, but the true problem was the fact that they showed just Chamberlain and Hitler discussing the fate of the Sudetenland, nobody from France, nobody from Italy.

The statement was made at one point that French and English troops were stationed in the Rhineland when, in 1936, Hitler sent troops in to that area. The British and French troops left in 1930.

The Japanese did not go to war in the 1930's because they had been snubbed at Versailles, they got all of the German possessions in the Pacific at Versailles. That is hardly a snub.

The US did not enter WWI because of the Zimmerman telegram, but because Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare would resume.

There is plenty more but I could not stand to watch all of it. I turned it off about halfway through.
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I wish I could give this pile of crap a 0
farquarg28 May 2014
First, I'm not sure how you cover WWI without more coverage of France, but I'm willing to overlook this since the intended audience is primarily American.

That said, it's difficult to believe there was no mention The Somme or Paschendale, two of the deadliest battles in world history. The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest day in British military history. There were over 1 million casualties. How that does not deserve at least a mention to give the viewer the scale of the battles is beyond me. Nor is there much of a mention of just how awful trench warfare was. The air war in WWI should have at least garnered a mention as it was the first air to air combat in human history.

The inter-war period was decent. It covered the major points so I can't complain much about this segment.

The WWII segment was perhaps the worst documentary on WWII I have ever seen. No mention of Adm. Nimitz. No mention of General Marshal. No mention of Eisenhower or Bradley. No mention of the air war or the US/British bombing campaign over Europe. No mention of the allied invasion of North Africa. No mention of the Battle of the Atlantic the problems that the German U-boats caused Britain. No mention of the internment of Japanese Americans.

The show made it seem that the US/Britain only allied themselves with the Soviet Union in 1943 at the Tehran conference, when the reality was that Britain and the USSR were allied as soon as Germany invaded. The US provided both Britain and the USSR supplies throughout the war. They made it seem like it was in 1943 that the USSR first pressed for a second front, when Stalin had been pressing the US/Britain for a second front since 1942. The invasion of France ( D-Day ) was made to seem as an idea first thought up at the Tehran conference, when the truth is that the allies had planned an invasion of France since day 1. The difficulty was in assembling the equipment and soldiers necessary for a successful invasion. The show made it seem as though it was FDR that decided to sideline Patton and later re-instate him to active duty. When in fact it was Eisenhower ( as Supreme Allied Commander). There was no mention of the 101st Airborne at Bastonge, only that Patton attacked Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. The whole reason Patton attacked so aggressively during that battle was to rescue the 101st.

Finally, there was scant mention of the brutality of the Japanese during WWII. No mention of the rape of Nanking. No mention of the Bataan death march or the treatment of Allied POWs. Apparently, only the Nazis committed crimes against humanity. The last straw for me is the lack of mention of Iwo Jima. One of the most iconic images of WWII was the Marines raising the flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. Yet apparently, this wasn't important enough for the makers of this "documentary."

I don't expect a show of this length to cover every aspect of WWII, but I do expect it to at least mention the major points. It fails to do so. What makes this such a travesty is that in today's world, WWII is distant history. Thousands of WWII veterans are dying every day and it is incumbent upon us to remember what they did. There will be kids that will watch this and this pile of crap will be their basis for information on WWII. That is a slap in the face to "The Greatest Generation." They deserve that WE remember what they did in far more detail than this pile of crap provides. The makers of this "documentary" and the History Channel should be ashamed of themselves.
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An embarrassment
daniel-jarrell31 May 2014
From the Americans marching into WWI under a flag with 50 stars, to Aegis Guided missile frigates and modern aircraft carriers plying the waters of the Pacific during WWII, to five star flag officers in 1941, to weapons and aircraft in the hands of whoever happened to be in the narrator's script the was pure garbage and unworthy of being called a documentary. At one point they claim that no one knows why Hitler declared war on the US after Pearl Harbor when it's well understood he expected Japan to declare war on the USSR and take some of the pressure off his army. The Battle of Britain starts with London being bombed. No mention was made that this elated the British as it allowed the over strained RAF a chance yo recover. If Germany had continued to attack the air fields they could have worn the RAF down.

In the Pacific, there's scant mention of naval engagements, the island hopping campaign, and none at all of the Japanese atrocities in China or in their treatment of POWs.

Do not squander the electrons needed to watch this.
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Warning - Do Not Use This Series To Teach History!
moi5338 June 2014
As many others have posted before me, there are far too many historical inaccuracies in this 2014 History Channel series. I urge all teachers who think they would use this series to help teach history to DON'T DO IT!

My observations on the inaccuracies in this History Channel series are that for World War I and the Gallipoli Campaign, there was no mention that the British forces there really included not only United Kingdom(British troops), but French, Australian and New Zealand troops. The fact that I had an Australian relative who was in the combined Australian and New Zealand forces (ANZAC), who died of his wounds at Gallipoli, and the involvement of the Australians was not even mentioned, I feel is insulting to the memory of the many who died during that unfortunate campaign.

There were so many major and minor errors in the series it is laughable. I feel it follows the Oliver Stone philosophy of presenting the reenactments of historical events - bend time lines, misrepresent facts, and produce an questionable product. Here are just a few "little" errors that made me very angry about this production: - the actors portraying the younger and older Franklin D. Roosevelt couldn't even give a reasonable version of his speech patterns - we have so many recordings of the real Franklin D. Roosevelt that his voice and manner of speaking are well known - both Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin stood around 5 feet 5 inches tall (historical facts), but in their supposed meeting when Lenin returned to Russia, the actor portraying the younger Josef Stalin stood much taller than Lenin, plus, I understand such a meeting between the two is a highly questionable event - during the World War II segments with Adolf Hitler meeting with some of his officers, the length of the hair of some of the actors playing officers was way too long to be acceptable in the German military

Bottom line: Please do not use this series to teach history!
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The World Wars is the Plan 9 from Outer Space of History
davo1958-14-82190429 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My god, where to begin? I think some 9th grade history students were assigned a project, but got into somebody's expired prescription medication to come up with this mess. I knew we were in trouble when it started with Hitler not being able to seal his gas mask during a gas attack in what was labeled Sep. 1914. Since nobody used poison gas until 1915 and no real working gas mask as shown made available to troops before late 1915-1916, I was still left wondering why Hitler had a 1916 German helmet and his fellow soldiers seemed to be using British Lee Enfield rifles and the British were shooting at the Germans with American M1903 Springfield rifles. President Wilson must have been a time traveler, since he had a 1940's radio in his office in 1916, 4 years before the first radio station. I have no idea why WWII lasted as long as it did, since in one clip the US Navy had a Nimitz Class Carrier with a deck filled with Super Hornets and in another the Russian's had M47 tanks from the 50's, but the German had T-54's, and I still can't figure out why the South Vietnamese Army was fighting in the Philippines in 1941. (Army guys with a palm tree in the ground, yeah stick in there, nobody will notice). A little bit of acting, and lots of random military stock footage from 1914-at least 1990. This is the worst History show in History. Everyone at the History Channel that had any part in this should be fired. I have no clue how this ever could have been approved to air. It's so bad, it's like they did it on propose as some kind of sick joke. It's so bad you can't turn away, you've just got to see the next ridiculous error. World Wars, if Ed Wood did documentaries.
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The 'History' Channel spouts more drivel
Aside form the historical inaccuracies with regards to the weapons, uniforms and even facts this has to be one of the worst 'documentaries' I have seen on this subject. I am fully aware that the show was made for American audiences to be shown on memorial day but other perspectives of this monumental WORLD conflict would do it justice.

The first episode which focuses on WWI completely forgets to mention France who sacrificed nearly 2,000,000 people to this conflict along with the insurmountable damage caused to the north-west region of the country and merely mentions France as the country where the fighting took place.

The end of the first episode also makes it seem as though Patton and MacArthur won the war on the Western Front alone and that Patton was the only military leader who embraced tanks on the battlefield when it was the British who successfully invented and then used tanks in battle a year earlier.

All in all I was hopeful that the History Channel would live up to its name and was willing to cast aside c**p like Ax Men and their ilk to make a factual documentary film but was once again let down with one sided views which almost amounted to propaganda at points, if you would like to find out any real facts about the wars and the ramifications they caused then I would seriously recommend watching the Century of Warfare as this shows many different perspectives and the lasting consequences which are still being felt to this day.
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"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
jjcarr-4901523 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler Alert

The idea behind this series - to show how for a number of key figures (Roosevelt, Hitler, Patton, Mussolini, Churchill, Tojo, De Gaulle and MacArthur) their experiences in WW1 influenced the actions in WW2 - is worthwhile. Unfortunately it's about the only thing in this series that is. Here I refer to the six one-hour episodes shown in Europe as opposed to the three two-hour shows shown originally in the US. In fairness it signals its awfulness from the start. We see the British launching a night attack with gas on 16th October 1914! A German soldier can't get his gas mask to seal because of his handlebar moustache! After surviving by holding his breath he uses a knife or bayonet to shave the bars off leaving a toothbrush moustache. He looks up at the camera to show us the face of a young Hitler. It's a spot-the-deliberate-error competition. Apart from the fact that attacks tended to occur in daylight and that Hitler didn't change his moustache style until recovering from a wound in 1916 the real howler is that neither side used poison gas in 1914 though the Germans and French did use tear gas. Later in the episode the Hitler/Tand(e)y story which may or may not be an urban legend - Hitler may not, as he claimed, by the soldier whose life was spared by Tand(e)y - is presented unequivocally as a fact. In part 4 we have both Churchill giving part of the 'finest hour' speech (which actually occurred on 18th June 1940) and being brought back into the cabinet (which actually occurred on 3rd September 1939) before the war started on 1st September 1939. They have him giving the 'we shall fight' speech after the fall of France rather than after Dunkirk but before the fall of France. Then they put the Blitz before the Battle of Britain. In part 5 we have the Battle of Moscow starting after Pearl Harbor and Hitler's declaration of war on the US! These are just a sample of the numerous factually inaccuracies inflicted on the viewer. Basically they're putting carts before horses to suit their narrative. At times this got so painful to watch that more than once I considered stopping watching but I decided to stick it out so I could give a review based on the whole series and to see if it has any redeeming feature. It hasn't. Why did I give it one out of ten? Because imdb won't let you give zero.
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"Dirty bastards" is a better historical documentary than this
zidancho14 September 2014
Now i will begin by saying I have only watched episode one and it was more than enough to provoke my disappointment in the history channel for making this. While the screenplay, the drama and all were well played the actual history seems to say that McArthur and Patton won the war, Hitler a big player in these series as one would expect was just understated, not to mention Stalin and Lenin's 1 minute segment was just a nod to historical truth as to not let them be totally irrelevant while the great forces of "Murrica" conquered the battlefield's of WWI. This really annoys me as a person who expected a great historical representation for the characters in both the wars. Now one would let the fact that players not as major, i.e. Patton or McArthur to be let into the series, as I expected a more grand point of view, the stories of Roosevelt, Churchil, Hitler and Stalin, to slide but the almost criminal claims that McArthur won WWI for the allies, Hitler being portrayed as this friendless idiot from the beginning just annoyed to be frank. I want to be clear at this stage, I am not an anti- American freedom hating, Nazi commie as most "murricans" would call me, it's just that the facts in this "historical drama-documentary" are used wrongly and misleadingly, which is worse than not having any facts at all. I would call it propaganda but it hardly deserves that, as the most lay historical buff could say that this show just says- "America, **** YEAH". I could cover you in a barrage of historical facts to prove my point but that would just force a stupid debate which will mask the fact that this show is not worth the lines I am writing now. I am sad that this could've been a really awesome presentation into the personalities of Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt and Hitler to show us their points of view and yet it just is a this boring "documentary" which walks on a treaded path trying to earn a buck. I am not angry at the fact that the Americans won the wars (as I am not American or western European) I am actually quite happy even that they won the cold war for reasons too long to explain in this review, however, I am a great believer in historical truth and to be honest this just delivers misconceptions and stupidity to those watching it, oblivious to the facts and wanting to learn more via watch this series. I am greatly disappointed in the History channel and I hope to see real history on it like back in the day and like they are supposed to convey!
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Really awful! I regret the time I spent on it, teeth firmly gritted, just to see what crap passes for history in US media.
vs2330 May 2014
Both inaccurate and ethnocentric as it skews multiple historical facts out of sheer laziness and to make it seem as though the US singlehandedly won both wars. It was offensive to see European allies reduced to bystanders and their suffering minimized to a side effect. It also wrongly represented complex historical processes as the outcome of personal grudges rather than as the product of long standing ideological and sociocultural factors.

As have others, I wish I could give it a 0. This so-called series is a colossal waste of resources. One wonders what participants were thinking, especially the poor actors and the academics who invested their talents and prestige in this crap. And to have talking heads like Cheney, who has never fought and who cynically lied the nation into an unnecessary and illegal war, spouting forth praise for soldiers is obscene.
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Absolute Garbage !
dennis_vermulm19 June 2014
This production is rife with oversimplification and inaccuracy. As previously noted, important events from both WWI and WWII are missing in their entirety, making it difficult, if not impossible, for an informed viewer to comprehend even the broad strokes of these significant world events. Film clips used to illustrate the narration are often not properly selected and, as a result, do not accurately portray the events being described. The time-line of events is frequently so out of order that it's impossible to establish a coherent chronology of events. Dramatization for effect is one thing, but the creators of this production have employed artistic license to the degree that this documentary is neither informative nor entertaining. The World Wars was obviously written by someone whose knowledge of history is solely a product of the American education system. The writer should have picked up and read a few history texts first! This was absolute garbage. I watched it once and was so steamed, I've deleted all the episodes from my DVR. This won't be part of my library, and I'd suggest that those who haven't seen it save six hours of their lives.
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Rampant Inaccuracies
chris-heselton12 June 2014
This "documentary" leans more towards a fictional alternative universe that conforms with some US-centric narrative, because it is rife with inaccuracies and seems to think that the US mattered more in these wars than any other country. As a historian of East Asia, I can down-right say that nearly everything said about Japan was inaccurate. These were not nit-picky mistakes. For example, in episode 2, the narrator claims that:

"In 1937, the Emperor of Japan approves an invasion of Northeastern China. A dedicated soldier is chosen to lead the troops. His name is Hideki Tojo. … After overseeing a series of successful battles, Tojo is names Japan's Minister of War and is now responsible for the state of the Japanese military."

I don't know where to begin: 1) The Japanese invasion of Northeastern China (Manchuria) was on September 18, 1931 and was completed by 1933. It was not July 7, 1937 as they stated. July 7, 1937 is the date of the Marco Polo Bridge incident, a bridge just outside Beijing (just down the street from where I live) where a small clash between a Chinese warlord and the Japanese Imperial Army occurred and quickly grew into a total-war between China and Japan. It is generally taken as the beginning of World War II in China.

2) The Japanese emperor never approved of any invasion of northeastern China. The consensus is that the invasion was begun unapproved by anyone in the central government, and instead was undertaken by renegade officers in the colonial (not imperial) Kwantung Army – particularly Seishiro Itagaki and Kanji Ishiwara – and then taken further by Shigeru Honjo. In fact, the Minister of War, Jiro Minami, was trying to have Seishiro removed fearful that he would provoke a conflict. Once the invasion begun, however, the invasion proved to be popular with the public and politicians didn't want to admit they couldn't control their own officers, so they retroactively (many months later) approved.

3) Hideki Tojo wasn't involved in the invasion of Northeastern China at all. He was a colonel in the 1st Regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army, which didn't see action then. It wasn't until 1935 he served as a Kempeitai officer in Manchukuo (the puppet state set up by the Japanese in northeastern China). The invasion of Manchuria was run by several officers, but Shigeru Honjo probably did more. Since there was no central plan, no one really was in control, so no one was leading it. It was often mid-ranking officers taking the initiative to gain promotions and celebrity status in the media – in fact, the central government was trying to contain the conflict.

4) Tojo wasn't made the Minister of War until 1940, and of course he was Prime Minister a year later.

These are mistakes that could be revealed with simple checks on Wikipedia. My undergraduate students do a better job than this on their mid-term papers, which shows the un-professional quality of the writing of this film.

Not to mention: Why are John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney doing on a "history" program? They don't seem very knowledgeable on the subject. As far as I know, they didn't serve in any positions of leadership or witness any of the events they comment on. It also seems odd (and suspicious) that they only have these right-wing politicians – granted I don't think there are any politicians in a position to really be able to comment on this. You'd get just as accurate a response by pulling a random stranger off the street.
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Save Your Time
drfubar3129 May 2014
What a joke this supposed documentary was. It made so many mistakes from making historically inaccurate statements, like Roosevelt tried to prevent war by embargoing Japan from receiving any oil from the U.S., to making MacArthur a 5 star general in the 1930s or having Patton ride Stuart tanks in WWI when they were a WWII light tank! The oil embargo was one of the main reasons that Japan ended up attacking the U.S. as the U.S. was the main source of not only oil but also scrap metal and cooper for Japan's industry. The embargo was put in place to pressure Japan to cease it's war with China. It's shameful that such a travesty could be passed off on the History Channel for fact, when it was so poorly researched and produced.
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Awful.... I would not recommend this at all.
rpjavier0631 May 2014
For a visual history lesson, this program used many inaccurate footages. Heck, I wouldn't call it a history lesson. Boeing B-17s for German medium bombers for a clip of the Battle of Britain. Any 10-year old child from that era can probably had pointed out these inaccuracies. The director/producers would had benefited greatly from hiring these 10-year old children as consultants. They also used tanks from a much later era in reenacting scenes along the Eastern Front. They didn't spend much time researching film archives to find footage that would even be close to what they are discussing. This is a very cheap production that should had never been produced. It doesn't seem much research was done. With all of the books written about both wars, this really falls short of my expectations.
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Lazy, sloppy, inaccurate, irresponsible. An insult to history.
dundeal7818 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers, perhaps? (The whole thing is spoiled.)

I don't see much value in excoriating an already amply panned production, but this mess needs all the dumping on it can get. This was bad enough for a history buff as myself, but to present this as a primer for WWI and WWII "neophytes" is an outrage. The evidence of low budget/low quality is evident immediately to anyone who has even the most rudimentary knowledge of either war. The late 1915 helmets showing up in 1914 and earlier, the mismatched weaponry represented in re-enactments of both wars-- B-17s serving as Heinkels and Dorniers??? Germans using cold war era Russain armor? When I first saw an SS officer (?) standing behind Hitler, it was one thing to have the collar tabs of an Unterscharfuehrer with officer's epaulets, but seeing a Wehrmacht general's hat tucked under his arm was something inexcusable.(Yeah, I'm 'showing off' a bit...) It was that type of indifference to detail that exemplifies what's wrong this entire production. If the big details are grossly inaccurate, and the little details reinforcing an overt indifference to the thought put into a project, how can there be any reason to believe there is a shred of merit in the project? Which, ultimately, there wasn't. If this channel is attempting to get back to its "roots" this is a miserable way to do it. I have no problem with them trying to simplify history for a new generation of viewers, but for crying out loud, at least be accurate. That's the shame of this half-a**ed production. It demonstrated how far this channel has fallen, and how indifferent they have become to their viewers.
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Feloniously erroneous
gmierz31 May 2014
The History Channel gets an "A" for the idea but an "F" for execution in shifting away from backwoods space aliens who run haunted pawn shops long enough to produce a series that attempts to tie together both world wars.

Forget the oft-cited mistakes the series makes about uniforms, weapons, anachronisms and other visual trappings. There are far too many bombshell blunders -- among the worst is crediting the Communists (Bolsheviks) for overthrowing Czar Nicholas II in 1917 -- for these shows to be viewed by anyone hoping to learn the facts about the wars.

Incidentally, the Germans DID sneak Lenin into Russia AFTER the czar's ouster to end the war on the Eastern Front -- and it worked. Lenin was brought from exile in Switzerland in a sealed one-carriage train to undermine the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky, which had taken over after Nicholas' overthrow.

Kerensky had kept Russia in the war, but the Bolsheviks succeeded in their October Revolution because they promised to bring peace. To end the war, Lenin was willing to surrender huge tracts of Russia and the Ukraine to Germany, but Germany agreed to the armistice with the Allies before the peace treaty could be made effective.
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Too many inaccuracies, Watch "The World at War" Series instead
CathodeRayTubesRock13 April 2017
This series can be commended for trying to tackle and combine WWI and WWII. Most historians agree that WWI directly led to WWII. However, this writers constant combining and oversimplification of important facts and events leads to inaccuracies and just straight falsehoods. If you are going to invest several hours watching World War 'history', your time would be much better spent watching "The World at War" series.
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ROTFL - you think this is "history"
skyking-1428 May 2014
I've been enjoying the show, but you have to really know the true history and then make allowances for the "Cliff Notes version" (see that this is. It's highlights and simplification.

Bear in mind that the "History" channel now includes a heavy dose of alien and UFO conspiracy theory, ghost hunting and religion bashing. Everything on History needs to be taken in the context of other sources or you will surely be mislead. I could fill a couple of pages with historical misstatements or omissions in this program, but it does add something to the overall story, so long as you don't take it as the single source! They portrayed the main German attack as coming through the Maginot line when in fact it was bypassed by attacking through the same Ardennes forest they later used in the Battle of the Bulge. Never mentioned was the 8th Army battle in North Africa, or the role of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. No mention of the Battle of the Atlantic. Also ignored was the role that the Japanese war in China played in American - Japanese relations.

All in all, it is a good story which can be a good addition to the overall narrative, but you really need to already understand the entire context in order to not be mislead. Movies and mini-series can bring stories to life, but there is really no substitute to actually reading the many wonderful memoirs of the people who were actually there!

Having just watched it again, in addition to the omissions and over-simplifications, there are also glaring mis-statements of fact and factual error galore. It will suffice to point out just two: #1 they stated that Patton defeated Italy in six weeks, when he was actually NEVER involved in the Italian campaign which lasted nearly to the end of the war. He (and Field Marshall Montgomery) won the battle of Sicily. BTW How anyone can discuss Patton without discussing Montgomery as well is beyond anyone who knows the story. #2 they leave the impression that Patton was only called back to duty during the Battle of the Bulge, when in fact, it was Patton who led Operation Cobra, which created the breakout from the Normandy beachhead in August.
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A Waste of Time and Just Plain Awful
jlthornb5110 January 2016
There are so many errors in this thing that it should not be considered a documentary at all. If it is indeed a documentary, it is the sloppiest one ever produced and an absolute travesty. The people associated with this should be ashamed and must be some of the laziest on earth. Any historian who came near it should hide for the next decade until the smoke clears from this because their reputations are totally mud. The film of a C-130 Hercules dropping German paratroopers over Poland in 1939 as American B-17's bomb Warsaw are a couple of examples of the jarring images used to misleadingly illustrate the narration. The narration and the commentary is okay and just that because the rest of the production is so slip-shod, haphazard, and downright trash. This was painful to watch and became impossible to view after the first 45 minutes. What a complete mess and insult to the intelligence of the viewers. Obviously, no one cared what they were doing when this abomination was thrown together and they felt accurate research was a waste of time. This junk is a waste of the audience's time and should be avoided. Stick to pawn shops and ice roads, "History" channel. Faking that stuff is what you do well!
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Historically inaccurate "Historical" mini series.
AndrewDanielTucker27 May 2014
You don't have to pay attention to the content to see the discrepancies of the series. I can forget about Adolf Hitler speaking English for the sake of learning but I would expect a history series to do a small amount of research when it comes to era military uniforms and equipment. Watch the trailer and aside from the B-rated acting you can clearly see an obese English soldier, a world war two era tank(M3 Stuart) in a world war one scene, incorrect uniforms and mismatching equipment, each army is using incorrect rifles, and in one of the episodes a German soldier is using an 1886 winchester repeater; a rifle that hadn't been used in decades. A series like this should be teaching people correctly, instead they horribly depict every aspect of every war they try to teach you about.
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World History Drek
dfarhie-811-1763681 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I had a lot of interest in The World Wars, because I've been interested in World War history in general since I was a lad. The resulting tripe was terribly disappointing. Not only was it badly edited, but the narrator was a plodding, monotone voice that showed little or no emotion during the program. What I thought was an adult level program turned into a middle school level show with frequent recaps just in case the watchers were morons and couldn't remember from one segment to the next. The only factoid I gleaned from this rehash of the facts was the English soldier who possibly had Hitler in his sights during World War I and didn't shoot. I hadn't heard that one. Inaccuracies, distortions and just bad history were the norm. What do you expect? The show featured numerous republicans who love to skew history to their ends, and how can anybody take a show seriously that has former Bush administrators who lied to the American People about WMD's. I'm surprised they didn't dredge up John Poindexter and Oliver North! Shame on you History Channel for turning what could have been a monumental show into a pig trough of slop.
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