Yesterday evening I watched the PBS documentary embedded above. It is part of the "American Experience" series, and as such you can expect it to be superb documentary television programming, but this episode was particularly interesting because of the parallels between America's classic "Gilded Age" with our present circumstances. I highly recommend this program.
The Gilded Age in United States history is the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term for this period came into use in the 1920s and 1930s and was derived from writer Mark Twain's 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding... The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the North and West. As American wages were much higher than those in Europe, especially for skilled workers, the period saw an influx of millions of European immigrants... The political landscape was notable in that despite some corruption, turnout was very high and national elections saw two evenly matched parties. The dominant issues were cultural (especially regarding prohibition, education, and ethnic or racial groups), and economic (tariffs and money supply). With the rapid growth of cities, political machines increasingly took control of urban politics. In business, massive, powerful, and wealthy trusts formed... The point noted as the end of the Gilded Age also varies. It is generally given as the beginning of the Progressive Era in the 1890s...If you don't enjoy watching your computer monitor for two hours, the program will be available from your local library in DVD format.
Addendum: The embedded video is now "blocked on copyright grounds." This link is still working.