Tuesday, July 31, 8pm
Episode 1: A Necessary War -- December 1941-December 1942
After an overview of WWII, residents of Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Luverne, Minnesota recall their communities on the eve of the conflict. For them, the events overseas seem far away - until their tranquil lives are shattered by Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and America is plunged into the greatest cataclysm in human history.
At home, 110,000 Japanese Americans all along the West Coast are forced by the government to abandon their homes and businesses and are relocated to inland internment camps. In the Philippines, American and Filipino forces retreat onto Bataan while thousands of civilians are rounded up by the Japanese and imprisoned in Manila.
By June 1942, the Navy manages an improbable victory over the Japanese at the Battle of Midway and after six long months, the Americans finally stop Japan's expansion in the Pacific. At the end of America's first year of war, more than 35,000 Americans in uniform have died. Before the war can end, 10 times that many will lose their lives.
Wednesday, August 1, 8pm
Episode 2: When Things Get Tough -- Jan. 1943-Dec. 1943
Americans have been at war for more than a year and across the country, in cities such as Mobile and Waterbury, nearly all manufacturing is converted to the war effort. Factories run around the clock, and mass production reaches levels unimaginable a few years earlier.
Along with millions of other women, Emma Belle Petcher of Mobile enters the industrial work force for the first time, becoming an airplane inspector while her city struggles to cope with an overwhelming population explosion.
As 1943 comes to a close, Allied leaders in draw up plans for the long-delayed invasion of the European continent; Hitler put tens of thousands of laborers to work strengthening his coastal defenses. For the people of Mobile, Sacramento, Waterbury and Luverne, things are bound to get tougher still.
Thursday, August 2, 8pm
Episode 3: A Deadly Calling -- November 1943-June 1944
Despite American victories in the Solomons and New Guinea, the Japanese empire still stretches 4,000 miles, and victory seems a long way off. In November, on the tiny Pacific atoll of Tarawa, the Marines set out to prove that any island, no matter how fiercely defended, can be taken by all-out frontal assault.
Back home, the public is devastated by color newsreel footage of the furious battle and grows more determined to do what's necessary to hasten the end of the war. The cities of Mobile, Sacramento, and Waterbury have been transformed into booming, overcrowded "war town", and in Mobile - as in scores of other cities - that transformation leads to confrontation and ugly racial violence as African American and Japanese American men are forced to form segregated units of the armed forces. Meanwhile, the greatest test for the Allies - the long-delayed invasion of France - is now just days away.
Sunday, August 5, 8pm
Episode 4: Pride of Our Nation, June 1944-August 1944
By 1944, there are signs on both sides of the world forecasting that the tide of the war is turning. On June 6, 1944 - D-Day - a million and a half Allied troops embark on the invasion of France. It is the bloodiest day in American history since the Civil War, with nearly 2,500 Americans losing their lives.
For months, the Allies must measure their progress in yards, and they suffer far greater casualties than anyone expected. In the Pacific, soldiers slowly inch closer to the Japanese homeland as the enemy fights to the death to defend their territory.
Back at home, Americans try to go about their normal lives, but on doorsteps all across the country, dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at a rate inconceivable just one year earlier.
Monday, August 6, 8pm
Episode 5: FUBAR, September 1944-December 1944
By the fall of 1944, the Allies seem to be moving toward victory in Europe, but American and British troops on the German border are losing resources and nothing seems to be going according to plan.
The war in Europe will not end before winter. In the Pacific, General MacArthur is poised to invade the Philippines at Leyte. The battle is expected to last four days, but the fighting drags on for more than two months in one of the most brutal and unnecessary campaigns in the Pacific.
In movie theaters back home, Americans cheer the newsreels of General MacArthur's "return." But months of bloody fighting lie ahead before the Philippine Islands - and the people imprisoned on them - can be liberated.
Tuesday, August 7, 8pm
Episode 6: The Ghost Front -- December 1944-March 1945
By December 1944, Americans have become weary of the war their young men have been fighting for three long years; the stream of newspaper headlines telling of new losses and telegrams bearing bad news from the War Department seem endless and unendurable.
At Yalta, Allied leaders agree on a plan to end the war that includes massive bombing raids aimed at German oil facilities, defense factories, roads, railways and cities. By the middle of March 1945, the end of the war in Europe seems imminent. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are crossing the Rhine and driving into the heart of Germany, while the Russians are within 50 miles of Berlin.
Still, back in Luverne, city newspaper editor Al McIntosh warns his readers to keep working "until there is no doubt of victory anymore".
Wednesday, August 8, 8pm
Episode 7: A World Without War -- March 1945-December 1945
In spring 1945, although the numbers of dead and wounded have more than doubled since D-Day, the people of Mobile, Sacramento, Waterbury, and Luverne understand all too well that there will be more bad news from the battlefield before the war can end.
That March, President Roosevelt warns in a newsreel that the final battle with Japan could stretch on for years. In mid-April, Americans are shocked by news bulletins announcing that Roosevelt is dead; many do not even know the name of their new president, Harry Truman.
Meanwhile, in Europe, as Allied forces rapidly push across Germany from the east and west, American and British troops discover for themselves the true horrors of the Nazis' industrialized barbarism. On May 8, with their country in ruins and their fuehrer dead by his own hand, the Nazis surrender. On August 6, 1945, under orders from President Truman, an American plane drops a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. On August 9, a second American atomic bomb destroys the city of Nagasaki, and the rulers of Japan decide at last to give up - and the greatest cataclysm in history comes to an end.