A History of a History – Ken Burns “The Civil War”

In 1990, a significant TV event happened as PBS stole ratings from major networks. The event was a ground-breaking documentary of what is possibly the most important event in American history, one that cut through the Gone-with-the-Wind and glorified type images that had been in movies up to that date. Still the documentary used new techniques (in fact some old techniques that delighted audiences and drew some criticism). New perceptions of the Civil War and the first major re-interpretations of the war were televised. That didn’t mean it was without criticisms, though.

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As Ken Burns moves on to Ben Franklin and Ernest Hemmingway, Vietnam and other topics. it’s worthwhile to note how much of our history and historical sense on things, comes from his programs. As old VHS tapes fade, we look at the series that gave so many modern Americans their ‘vision’ of the Civil War. We take a look at his groundbreaking series, its impact, and how it looks amid today’s controversies. In the process, Bruce sees commonality in Burns’s approach and his own podcast.

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