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Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars

In a new series, Stone explores the disconnect in U.S. history between what's officially reported and what actually happened.

Photo Credit: Wright


The following is a transcript of a Democracy Now! segment on Oliver Stone's 10-part Showtime series called "Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States."

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to the untold history of the United States. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone has taken on three American presidents in JFK, Nixon and W. A Vietnam War veteran, he was decorated with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. As a filmmaker, he’s tackled the most controversial aspects of the war, of the Vietnam war, in his classics Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. He revealed the greed of the financial industry in the Hollywood hit Wall Street and the sequel, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. And he’s explored Latin America through his films Salvador, Comandante and South of the Border.

AMY GOODMAN: Now Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick from American University have teamed up to produce a 10-part Showtime series called Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States. It also features a companion book with a similar name. Drawing on archival findings and recently declassified documents, the filmmakers critically examine U.S. history, from the atomic bombing of Japan to the Cold War, to the fall of communism, and continuing all the way through to the Obama administration. This is the trailer for the Showtime mini-series.

OLIVER STONE: History is exciting, and I want to make it as exciting as it can be. We take a history subject, and we make it not only dramatic, but we are compassionate. I always felt there’s a disconnect about what’s officially reported and what actually happened. We can’t accept the stuff that’s handed down. This is the key to the whole series, is to find out how we got to where we are and who we are. It’s great, great story.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the trailer for Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s 10-part Showtime series called The Untold History of the United States. The first episode of the series aired on Monday night on Showtime. It’ll re-air on Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m., is also available on demand.

For more, the award-winning director Oliver Stone joins us here in New York, and we’re joined by his co-author, Peter Kuznick, professor of history and director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Oliver Stone, you’ve been working on this for years, unbeknownst to many people. Why?

OLIVER STONE: The trailer looked pretty epic. From here to here—it’s like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, from 1940s to—it was a big job, four-and-a-half years, off and on. I did do three feature films and two documentaries during that period. But Peter was on the—we started in 2008, and it’s been four-and-a-half.

We recently discussed Wallace and the bomb in 1997, when he was teaching at American University and I was there in one of his classes. And we talked about making a documentary of about an hour, hour and a half. He’s an expert on the atomic—on weaponry, and especially the atomic bomb. He founded the Department of Nuclear Studies in American—and Wallace is—Henry Wallace, as he can explain to you, is a key to the link: Would we have dropped the bomb? That’s the origin myths of this. Every school kid—still, my daughter in her school, in private school, in good school, is still learning this: We dropped the bomb because we had to, because the Japanese resistance was fanatic, and we would have lost many American lives taking Japan. This is one—there’s no alternative to that story. And we are beginning the process in chapter one, two and three of saying the bomb did not have to be dropped for strategic reasons and also because it was morally reprehensible. But strategically, it made no sense.