The Men Who Built America

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Men Who Built America TV Poster Image
Some violent images in well-done business tycoon miniseries.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series reveres men who have taken great financial risks and been innovative and ambitious. Much is made about how capitalism requires cutthroat competition to function.

Positive Role Models & Representations

These men relied on innovation, taking calculated risks, and working hard to build their businesses. They also engaged in underhanded tactics to beat the competition. There are very few women or people of color in the reenactments or interviews.


Reenactments of fighting, shooting, and other violent events that have taken place throughout history. Guns and blood are visible; there are also actor-portrayed images of dead soldiers and President Lincoln after he is shot.


Saloon girls, often considered prostitutes, are shown sitting on men's laps.


Standard Oil and other companies of the time are discussed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (wine, hard liquor) and cigar/cigarette smoking is visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Men Who Built America, which uses interviews and reenactments to document the life stories of some of the most successful business leaders in post-Civil War America, contains some violent images, but these are offered within a historical context. Drinking (hard liquor) and cigar smoking is also visible. Kids may not be too interested in the subject matter, but it will appeal to teens interested in business or history.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byt s April 4, 2020

We enjoyed this series very much, with some caviats..

I am weary of The History Channel which tend to sensationalize and have less substance than some others. This one was also narrow in content. However, it brou... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bynickzimmerman May 12, 2013

Great Show

It shows the history of America which is great it shows succesful business and how they had gone down it shows succesful business men like JP Morgan, John D Roc... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDeetz March 6, 2021
Very similar to America the Story of Us in a good way. It’s a great documentary series and you learn a lot about America.

What's the story?

THE MEN WHO BUILT AMERICA is a documentary miniseries that tells the stories of the innovators and entrepreneurs who helped build the contemporary American financial and industrial landscape. Each episode tells the life story of men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie (Adam Jonas Segaller), J.P. Morgan (Eric Rolland), and Henry Ford, offering details about how they were each able to go from modest means to financial greatness. Actor-portrayed reenactments show how these men took small ideas and made them revolutionary, struck smart business deals, and engaged in underhanded tactics designed to put the competition out of business. Interviews with current business people like Charles Schwab, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump, innovators like Ted Turner and Steve Wozniak, and financial experts like Donny Deutsch and Alan Greenspan, offer their insight into the long-term impact the intelligence, ingenuity, and hard work of these early businessmen continue to have on the nation and on themselves.

Is it any good?

The series highlights the key people who pursued post-Civil War financial investments in infrastructures like the transcontinental railroads, oil pipelines, and automobile manufacturing, while finding innovative ways to make them more lucrative. It also underscores the significant role these individuals have had on America's corporate and social world, despite the fact that some of their names have become synonymous with greed and corruption in today's mainstream media.

Despite the fact that women and individuals from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds are missing from series' conversations, there is still a lot to be learned here. It offers an interesting chance of to gain a basic understanding of how America's current business landscape got its start, and why it is the way it is today. No doubt that history and business buffs will find it a worthy viewing choice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about significant events in American history that have had led to new inventions and businesses. What lasting impact did these things have on the nation? Is the impact of these things all positive?

  • Why are most of the featured people white males? Does this reflect the reality of who was in power during these times, or is it an oversight on the part of the producers?

  • Can girls still be inspired by male role models? How does seeing yourself reflected (or not) in portrayals of powerful people affect your self understanding?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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