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 and a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge. He has held visiting posts at Harvard, Nebraska and Oklahoma, as well as at Nihon University in Tokyo and Sciences Po in Paris. He was awarded the Wolfson History Prize, 2004, and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005. He teaches and lectures both undergraduates and postgraduates at Cambridge University, specialising in the two world wars and the Cold War. Since October 2013 he has been Chairman of the History Faculty at Cambridge. In addition to teaching Reynolds has made nine documentaries on 20th Century history for the BBC, most recently World War Two: 1941 and the Man of Steel and World War Two: 1942 and Hitler's Soft Underbelly, both directed by Russell Barnes. He was also the writer and presenter of the award-winning ninety-part series on BBC Radio 4 America, Empire of Liberty.