5 Presidential documentaries on History (DStv 186) in October

History channel (DStv 186) brings us a pre-election selection of 5 documentaries on US Presidents – and one to come in November.

US Presidential season is upon us, and with elections taking place on Tuesday, 3 November, History channel (DStv 186) will be setting the stage on Sundays from Sunday, 4 October, through to Sunday, 15 November. The channel will be hosting brand-new documentaries about the sitting US President Donald Trump, the Trump family, and the political manoeuvring and electoral structure that led to the current state of US politics. History will also take us inside the White House and Air Force 1. And from the start of November, the channel will continue the presidential theme with the historical drama Grant. Based on the 2017 biography Grant by Ron Chernow, this 3-episode miniseries examines the life of the 18th President of the United States (1869 to 1877), Ulysses S. Grant (played by Justin Salinger). For now, oh say can you see…


Biography: The Trump Dynasty S1

This 6-hour documentary series explores the origins of the Trump family, from the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s, to the White House. Along with this brief focus on family history, it digs into 45th US President Donald Trump’s New York childhood with his millionaire parents, his actions as a real estate mogul, and his experiences as an author and reality show host. And we’ll also get an insider look at the 2016 election campaign, with never-before-seen archive footage, the lawsuits along the way, and more than 60 first-person interviews with journalists, politicians, political influencers and commentators and Trump circle insiders past and present, including Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Roger Stone and Anthony Scaramucci.

Part 1: This family-based episode examines the rise of the Trump family, from Donald’s grandfather Friedrich, who ran a hotel catering to miners during the 1885 Klondike Gold Rush, to his father, real estate Tycoon Fred Trump.

Part 2: An examination of Donald Trump’s life in real estate speculation and development, and the nature of his business and personal relationships at the time, along with the establishment of the Trump brand.

Part 3: A look at how Donald Trump successfully rebranded himself from a real estate developer, to becoming a TV Celebrity, then establishing his presence in politics and capturing the attention of influential backers.

Watch on Sunday, 4 October on History (DStv 186) at 19:20


America’s Great Divide: From Obama To Trump

This 2-episode, 4-hour special explores how politics in the US has become catastrophically divided. Part 1 tries to make sense of how President Barack Obama’s promise of unity was undermined, and how the racial, cultural and political divisions that were highlighted and exploited during the Obama Presidency were then used to boost Donald Trump to the White House. Part 2 goes into greater depth about how Trump’s campaign exploited divisions and provoked anger across the political spectrum, polarising public opinion. The documentary, from PBS/Frontline's filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team, features voices from across the political divide, and draws on brand-new interviews with political insiders, as well as an examination of news reports from across the US political spectrum during both presidencies to contextualise toxic modern US politics, and ask what will happen in the future if the rift is not bridged.

Watch on Sunday, 4 October on History (DStv 186) at 20:15


The Secret History of The White House

Investigative journalists and government insiders bring to light a top-secret construction project that took place outside of the West Wing of the White House from 2007 to 2012. What lies beneath the President’s residence following this construction project known as “The Big Dig”? Certain documents are now no longer classified, and these will be used, along with unseen images from the project, to inform graphics that reveal the true nature of the project. The documentary will also explore the 200-year history of the White House, and how its use and functions have shifted during presidential reigns, as well as look at how the nature of The Big Dig impacts democracy.

Watch on Sunday, 4 October on History (DStv 186) at 21:20


The Secret History of Air Force One

This 1-hour documentary special takes us inside Air Force one itself – the plane dedicated to transporting the US President – with exclusive footage, archive footage, and interviews with insiders. The aircraft has been used to transport dead presidents to their rest, and living ones to their first day in the White House. Staffers remember shocking moments, like the swearing in of US President Lyndon B. Johnson following President Kennedy’s assassination, as the former First Lady sat onboard the plane, still in her bloodstained outfit. Find out when Air Force One takes to the air and why, and what top-secret protocols and dress code the staff must follow as long as they’re aboard the Oval Office In The Air. Also, how do you feed and water a President and their entourage? We know it’s not a packet of peanuts and a cheese roll.

Watch on Sunday, 11 October on History (DStv 186) at 21:20


Presidents At War

Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all participated in WWII – whether on active duty or as part of the propaganda machine – before going on to sit in the Oval Office. This 2-part documentary will explore how their wartime experiences changed them and shaped their leadership styles and their decision-making processes in the White House. Part 1 of the documentary looks at how the bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the US into WWII, while part 2 looks at the different roles that future US presidents played in the US war machine at the time, from Commanding General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to midshipman Jimmy Carter, actor Ronald Reagan and naval aviator George W. Bush. During re-enactments, the presidents and their associates will be played by actors.

Watch on Sunday, 25 October on History (DStv 186) at 21:10


Grant S1

This 3-episode mini-series, based on the 2017 biography Grant by Ron Chernow, examines the life of the 18th President of the United States (1869 to 1877), Ulysses S. Grant (played by Justin Salinger). It’s a name that means relatively little outside the US today, but this underdog story sees Grant rise from being the son of a tanner, to becoming a not-terribly-promising military cadet, to being a decorated Major General during the course of the American Civil War, fighting on the side of President Lincoln (Carel Nel) for emancipation of the enslaved African Americans. The series follows his ups and down and disasters during the war years to reveal how he came to step in as US president following Lincoln’s assassination, and fought to suppress the racist violence of the popular KKK white supremacist organisation.

Watch from Sunday, 1 November on History (DStv 186) at 21:10

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