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recommended by Student's Friend

The Ascent of Man

by the BBC and Time-Life

Conceived as a companion piece to the Civilisation series below, The Ascent of Man looks at human history from the perspective of science and technology, which has produced a lot of history.  

Hosted by charming Jacob Bronowski.  

13 segments, 11 hours, DVD



by the BBC

Twelve videos explore Western culture ("It survived by the skin of its teeth.") from the fall

of Rome to the 20th Century.  

Hosted by Kenneth Clark.  

11 hours, DVD


Lost Civilizations

by Time-Life

Ten videos take students from ancient Mesopotamia to the Inca Empire.  Best video series I've seen for exploring the history of major civilizations from ancient times through the middle ages.  Emmy Award winner for outstanding informational series.  Narrated by Sam Waterston.  

9 hours, DVD



The Story of Us All

by the History Channel

Deeply flawed effort, but might provide useful video content.  Pros: The first segment on prehistory is worth the purchase price, and the series features individuals—not just impersonal processes. Cons: quick-cutting and bombastic music seek to invoke drama, but are way over the top.  Numerous battle scenes glorify the "art of war," rather than of the folly of war.

12 hours, DVD


The Century:

America's Time

by ABC

Six videos in this splendid series explore the world of the 20th Century with an American perspective.  Host: Peter Jennings.  

11 hours, VHS



by CNN

This series covers the last thousand years of history in ten hours focusing on five topics during each century: Mongols, Moguls, Mayans and Marco Polo, for example. The best video set I've seen for teaching global history of the last millennium.

Narrated by Ben Kingsly.  

10 segments, VHS


Lost Civilizations
The Century: America's Time


Ascent of Man
Mankind: The Story of Us ALL