Welcome to Hope, Through History, with Pulitzer Prize Winning and Best Selling Author and Historian, Jon Meacham and directed and produced by Cadence13, in partnership with HISTORY. HTH explores some of the most historic and trying times in American History, and how this nation dealt with these moments, the impact of these moments and how we came through these moments a unified nation. Season One takes a look at critical moments around the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the polio epidemic and the Cuban Missile Crisis. These stories of crisis—the term originates in the writings of Hippocrates, as a moment in the course of a disease where a patient either lives or dies—are rich, and in our own 2020 hour of pandemic and slow-motion but indisputably real panic, there’s utility in re-engaging with the stories of how leaders and citizens have reacted amid tension and tumult. The vicissitudes of history always challenge us in new and often-confounding ways; that’s in the nature of things. Still, as Winston Churchill once remarked, “The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope”—the hope that human ingenuity, reason, and character can combine to save us from the abyss and keep us on a path, in another phrase of Churchill’s, to broad, sun-lit uplands.
In 1917, as President Woodrow Wilson prepared the nation for World War, an even deadlier crisis was hiding in plain sight. An influenza virus flourished on European battlefields and rapidly spread among civilians, paralyzing the globe with illness and fear. The 1918 flu pandemic serves as a poignant reminder that science, cooperation, transparency and leadership can help clear a path to recovery.
It is known as the most dangerous moment in human history. In late October of 1962, American spy planes discovered Soviet missile bases with nuclear capabilities on the island of Cuba. Normalcy was put on indefinite pause as millions of Americans grappled with terrifying idea that at any moment, without warning, their communities and loved ones could be decimated by an atomic bomb. While military leaders and hardliners clamored for aggressive action, it was the patience and poise of a president that saved the world from mass destruction.
From the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, the nation lived in fear of the polio virus. Often handicapping or paralyzing its victims, sometimes resulting in death, the disease was made all the more frightening by the fact that it preyed on young children. Generations of Americans were affected by this incurable illness until a brilliant young medical researcher, empowered by the coordinated efforts of public and private institutions, developed a miraculous vaccine. The expert knowledge and first-hand experiences of Walter Isaacson, David Oshinsky and Geoff Ward, assist Jon Meacham in telling a story which begins with debilitating fear and ends with everlasting hope.
In May of 1940, Great Britain was in the crosshairs of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi war machine. As nations on mainland Europe fell prey to fascism, Winston Churchill seized the moment in dramatic fashion, ultimately winning a permanent place in the pantheon of heroic leaders who have single-handedly shifted the course of history. Churchill believed that “the only safe way” forward “was to convince Hitler that he couldn’t beat us.” And the only safe way to do that was to fight on. Accompanied by award-winning authors Erik Larson, Evan Thomas and Andrew Roberts, Jon Meacham revives one of the most consequential days of World War II, and creates a portrait of a man who used courage, candor and cooperation to protect the future of democracy.
Following a decade of roaring prosperity in America, something invincible was proving vulnerable. The Great Depression was ravaging the economy and destroying lives, creating a dire need for bold, honest leadership. With the help of Pulitzer Prize-winners Doris Kearns Goodwin and David M. Kennedy, along with Allida Black, the Director of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Jon Meacham delivers a vivid and intimate look at a President who countered depression with action, and who conquered fear with hope.
Welcome to Hope, Through History with Jon Meacham. This limited series explores some of the most historic and trying times in American History, and how this nation dealt with these moments, the impact of these moments and how we came through these moments a unified nation. Season One takes a look at critical moments around the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the polio epidemic and the Cuban Missile Crisis.