Popular historian Schama has a new show on the BBC about the history of America, based on his new book 'The American Future: A History'. I found the first episode to be a bit patchy and not particularly gripping, and I'd prefer my learnings to come from a less biased source — Schama is unabashedly Democratic — but there were enough points of interest to hold my attention.

In episode one Schama shows how American ingenuity has managed to overcome problems of scarcity of resources, with a focus on the water shortages of past and present. He takes us through the Great Depression, the dust bowl, the construction of the spectacular Hoover Dam, up to the present drought in California and the conflict between the farmers of Imperial Valley, who are reluctant to give up their water right privileges to the growing urban areas. Seeing how successfully the Americans dealt with the severe problems in the past gives me a confidence that current troubles will prove no more than a loud hiccup on an upward trend. In one of the concluding lines to the episode, Schama comments, "…for when American resources are in short supply, it's resourcefulness is not. That's one deep well that's never going to run dry".

UK viewers can watch this Schama's series on BBCs iPlayer . The Beeb also have an extensive history series on Radio 4 titled 'America:Empire of Liberty ' as well as having just started a new series featuring Stephen Fry traveling through the fifty states in a traditional London taxi. All good stuff. 


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