Parents' Guide to

Surviving History

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Scary devices reveal the dark side of history.

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The series is both educational and sensational, offering explanations about the design and construction of each device while at the same time detailing the exact physical and psychological injuries that they're supposed to cause the people unlucky enough to face them. It's often sobering to hear from the team members who personally test the contraptions -- many say how frightening the experience was and speculate on what it must have been like for real victims hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Surviving History demonstrates how re-creations and experiments can be used to learn about history in a fun way. It also shows how historical research can be combined with other disciplines -- like art and engineering -- to learn more about ancient civilizations. But the series' focus on re-creating objects and activities intended to cause pain, torture, and death makes it too dark for kids. The images of some of the gory props -- as well as scenes of people actually undergoing simulated torture or being put in a punishment device -- are a little scary (even though no one gets hurt). And some of the experiments are dangerous, too. But teens and adults may find the subject matter interesting and the approach to history appealing.

TV Details

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