Simon Schama's new documentary on America is hopeful

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The revolution in America is finally over, asserts historian Simon Schama in this documentary series, but the quantum cultural change has coincided with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Much of Schama's four-part snapshot on modern American life was filmed in the months leading up to Barack Obama's election as U.S. president, which marked "a historic shift in America's self-perception." Even a decade before, believes Schama, it would have been inconceivable to imagine white U.S. voters turning to an African-American to lead them out of a crisis.

As on previous PBS series, the British-born Schama approaches the subject with academic élan befitting the rank of someone who is a Columbia history professor.

Also a former arts and culture critic for The New Yorker, Schama connects America's new accepting attitude to a generational shift that began with the civil-rights movement in the early sixties; the offspring of baby boomers, he reasons, never found occasion to absorb the racist attitudes of their forefathers.

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