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History In The Making

History In The MakingFletcher graduate Adriana Bosch’s dissertation research inspired creation of award-winning political biographies for PBS. Boston.

Boston [05.01.03] Adriana Bosch's research on President Jimmy Carter's policies on Latin America didn't stop once she completed her doctoral dissertation at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1984. Armed with her Ph.D. in international affairs, Bosch was immediately hired as a researcher for PBS, where she began profiling prominent political figures including Carter, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ronald Reagan for appearance on the award-wining PBS documentary series American Experience. Her newest project, PBS recently announced, will be a two-hour documentary on the life of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

"There is a need for an objective, well-researched documentary on Castro," executive producer of American Experience Margaret Drain told The Boston Globe. "For nearly 50 years, he has commanded our attention. He brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. He has outlasted nine presidents. Yet he is unknown to most of us."

The Cuban-born Bosch is an ideal candidate to produce the potentially controversial film, given her training in international affairs and her previous success with political biographies. The Los Angeles Times praised her program on Ulysses S. Grant as "a masterwork," and her documentary about Ronald Reagan garnered a Peabody Award, considered by many to be the most prestigious prize in televised media.

Bosch's most recent profile of Jimmy Carter - which aired last November -- incorporated research from her dissertation and received rave reviews in publications across the nation.

"Bosch skillfully lays out a sympathetic but clear-eyed picture of Mr. Carter, assembled out of home movies, news clips, and interviews with historians, journalists, and a parade of Carter associates," reported The New York Times. The Times also called the program "a fascinating two-part portrait" and "a vivid reminder that a good president and a good man are not necessarily the same thing."

Though the Tufts graduate drafted a version of the Jimmy Carter script in 1993 based on her dissertation, she chose to wait a few years so she could include elements from Carter's post-presidential life.

"If we had done it then, we would have missed Haiti, North Korea and Iraq, all the things that helped him win the Nobel Prize," Bosch told the Times, adding that conducting more extensive research on Carter helped complement what she learned while completing her studies at Fletcher.

For the Castro project, Bosch and her production team intend to interview people on all sides of the political spectrum in Cuba, including family members and friends of Castro, Cuban public officials, former political prisoners, opponents of his regime, and prominent elected officials in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. But the film will not include any interviews with the dictator himself, as has been the general rule for American Experience programs including those of Reagan and Carter.

"There has never been a president interviewed in any of the presidential series, so Carter would have been a departure from the style of the series and we decided it would have been too close to an autobiography," the Fletcher graduate told The Washington Post.

PBS' American Experience is highly acclaimed as television's most-watched history series, and has won every prestigious broadcast award. The network will air Bosch's completed documentary on Castro in 2004.


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