Tubegazing: 'American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver'

A documentary on PBS assesses the dynamic legacy of a man who is more than just Maria Shriver's father.

American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver

(PBS, Jan. 21, 10 p.m.): Robert Sargent Shriver – best known as father to Maria – is, in the words of one historian, one of the most influential figures in modern US history who was not a president. A pugnacious patrician who was a peacemaker to the core, he became the first director of the Peace Corps and ran Lyndon Johnston's War on Poverty. Ultimately sidelined by history when the Kennedy family stood in the way of his political ambitions, Shriver's story is important to any generation for what it says about the power of a single person to affect millions, not to mention the importance of vision in government affairs. Grade: A Gloria Goodale

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