David Reynolds

America: Empire of Liberty
  • America: Empire of Liberty

  • David Reynolds’ major BBC Radio 4 series explores the origins of contemporary USA from its beginnings to the present day

    This epic narrative tells America’s story through the voices of those who lived it - presidents and farmers, mothers and children, settlers and soldiers, slaves and Indians. The series celebrates the country’s achievements but also examines its paradoxes by investigating three abiding themes of American life: empire, liberty and faith.

    Empire of Liberty: From the arrival of Native Americans from Asia, to the slave trade and the forced relocation of the Indians, the first series describes how the US expanded to cover a whole continent, laying the foundations of a superpower - if the country could remain united.
    Power & Progress: The second series depicts the tragedy and heroism of the Civil War (1861-65), which finally ended slavery - though not racial discrimination - and the dynamism of the reunited nation as it grew into an industrial giant. America’s role in the Second World War is also examined.
    Empire & Evil: The final series chronicles America’s long struggle with the Soviet Union, and examines the effect of that confrontation on American values, particularly in Vietnam and Watergate. The country’s struggle to overcome its racist past led from the Civil Rights Movement to its first black president. Also examined is the impact of Elvis on popular music, the battle over abortion and the story of the personal computer and the information revolution.

David Reynolds is a Professor of International History at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Christ's College. He was awarded the Wolfson Prize for History, 2004, and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005. He has written and presented several history films for the BBC - among them the 2008 series Summits. His books include several on modern America and its relations with Europe. His fascination with the country dates back to a year living there as a student, culminating in an epic ten-week, 10,000 mile bus journey in the summer of 1974 which ended outside the White House on the morning Richard Nixon resigned. David has been a regular visitor to the United States ever since and has held visiting university appointments at Harvard, Nebraska and Oklahoma. America, Empire of Liberty, his book linked to the BBC Radio 4 series, was published by Penguin in 2009.