The Invention Of - The Usa


Borderlands20170508The USA is an invention. So how do you build the most powerful country in the world?

Just two centuries ago, no one had a clue where the borders of the USA actually were. Hemmed in by the Atlantic, the Appalachian mountains and Canada to the north, early Americans could only dream of the massive territory Donald Trump and his government control today. So why is the border with Mexico where it runs today? For that matter what fixed the Canadian border? The answer to both questions is war.

Misha Glenny and producer Miles Warde travel across Texas and into Mexico to find out what defined the USA in the south. This is fringeland where multiple cultures collide. Local response to the President's wall proposal is not what you'd expect. With contributions from Andres Resendez, Kate Betz of the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin and Clive Webb on the history of the line in the south; plus Margaret MacMillan, Kathleen Burk and Alan Taylor on the numerous wars that shaped the frontier in the north.

'it'll Never Work!'20170501The USA is an invention. So how do you build the most powerful country in the world?

The United States of America is an invention. Before it existed, it needed to be created. Where would its borders be? Who was going to live there? How would it be run? As America's new president approaches his first hundred day, Misha Glenny follows up acclaimed programmes on Germany, Brazil, and France with a timely investigation of the USA.

To build a country you need a system of power, but independence from Britain immediately set up a clash - the politicians of the north against the slave owning south. When the Founding Fathers gathered in the capital Philadelphia, which sat half way between the two, they knew that there was going to be a fight. Donald Trump loves to quote the Founding Fathers but what did they actually say? Misha Glenny travels from New York to Philly and on to Washington in pursuit of the origins of the constitution, and discovers few people imagined it would last more than ten years.

Featuring contributions from double Pulitzer winner Alan Taylor; novelist Zoe Heller; Kathleen Burk, author of Old World, New World; Philly native Joe Queenan; and Carol Berkin, author of A Brilliant Solution.Future programmes focus on the history of the Mexican border; plus the peoples of America - who do you let in, who do you keep out?

Misha Glenny is the BBC's former Central Europe correspondent.
The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

The Melting Pot20170515The USA is an invention. So how do you build the most powerful country in the world?

To build a country you need people. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free." This quote, from the base of the Statue of Liberty, is part of the great American myth. Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, English, Irish, Poles, Germans, Koreans, Jamaicans - astounding numbers of people have started life again in the US. But not everyone has been welcomed with open arms. Who do you let in, who do you keep out? This has been an American obsession from the very start.

With contributions from Comanche writer Paul Chaat Smith, novelist Zoe Heller, Sarah Henry of the City Museum of New York, Jaime Arras of the border patrol in El Paso, and Harry Allen, better known as the Media Assassin with Public Enemy. The presenter is Misha Glenny, the producer in Bristol Miles Warde.