Skip to comments."The War" (by Ken Burns) Part 7 of 7; Airing on PBS @ 7PM and 9:30PM Central 10-2-07
Posted on 10/02/2007 4:55:18 PM PDT by VOA
This is just a television heads-up for the last episode of the first
airing of PBS/Ken Burns production "The War".
(VOA's boilerplate from prior threads)
All commentary regarding personal experience, family tales of WWII,
and critique of how Burns (and PBS) handles topics are welcome.
Hopefully the threads on the seven episodes will serve as
guides when this large documentary becomes required viewing in
Comments on how Burns handled the documenatry (positive,
negative, or neutral) will come in handy when "the younger
generation" sees the series. Especially if Burns takes a
"Smithsonian" tact to some topics...leaving people to wonder
"who the good guys were" during the epic struggle.
Links to discussion threads on Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as other useful links.
URL for thread on Part 1
URL for thread on Part 2 (Monday 9-24-07)
URL for thread on Part 3 (Tuesday 9-25-07)
URL for thread on Part 4 of 7; Airing on PBS @ 7PM Central 9-26-07
URL for thread on Part 5 of 7: (Sunday 9-31-07)
URL for thread on Part 6 of 7: (Monday 10-1-07)
URLs for PBS websites on “The War”:
URL to check listing for local PBS stations:
PBS website for Ken Burns The War
In the interests of fundamental fairness, I’ve compiled
an INexhaustive list of links for those interested in purchasing
“The War” on DVD, the companion book or soundtrack discs.
(”VOA” is NOT affiliated with any of the websites listed below,
unless one of my mutual funds has invested in amazon.com, The History
Channel or some related company. Shame on VOA...VOA should know if
he does have a holding in those media outlets!)
These links are just provided as a convenience to fellow Freepers.
One note: Without getting involved in all sorts of financial analysis...
it looks like Amazon.com has the best price if you simply want the DVD
But in all matters of purchase price, shipping costs/times, backorders,
and all the other joys of mail orders/Internet commerce...
And if “VOA” has messed up in any links or representations...
you have my apologies in advance!
PBS website for “The War” DVD/Book set:
The War: A Ken Burns Film DVD & Book - Bonus CD Soundtrack FREE!
DVD Set, Book & Bonus CD
Item No. TWAR653
List Price: $198.97
Our Price: $179.99
PBS website for “The War” DVD set:
The War: A Ken Burns Film 6PK DVD
Our Price: $129.99
20% off Ken Burns Titles when you buy The War DVD or Combo Details >
Amazon.com sites for “The War”
The War - A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (2007)
Director: Ken Burns
List Price: $129.99
Price: $78.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping. Details
You Save: $51.00 (39%)
The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945 (Hardcover)
by Geoffrey C. Ward (Author), Ken Burns (Author)
Find out more about The War: A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick—
including the companion book, soundtracks, DVDs, and a special message
from Ken Burns to Amazon customers— in The War Boutique.
History.com (History Channel) sites for “The War”
Ken Burns’ The War DVD & Book Collection
Only available on DVD
Availability: In Stock
Ships to U.S. and Canada
6 DVD(s) / 14 Hrs 0 Min
Closed Captioning: No
Was: $169.00 Save $24.51 (15%)
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Item Number: AAE-105571
History.com’s shop page for Ken Burns products:
Burns did well to include that (last?) speech to Congress in 1945.
FDR;s public mention of the “10 pounds of steel” braces isn’t too far off
from Geo. Washington begging the pardon of the unsettled officer corps
just after the Revolution...to get his “spectacles” in order to read a letter,
as he’d “gone blind” while in service to the country.
I want to thank you for these posts,this is why I donate to FR,it is a vast pool of knowledge,these heads up help us all.
Fabulous program -— The War!
Saw it for sale today in Best Buy, the entire series, for $44.95, or something like that.
“I want to thank you for these posts,this is why I donate to FR...”
All thanks to Jim Robinson.
I’m just here to gather commentary. For future use when I hear friends
and family discuss what will probably be required viewing in all
American high school history classes.
Tonight we get more of E.B. Sledge (on Okinawa), the fall of Japan and
the meting (sp?) out of justice at Nuremburg and tribunals for the
And probably a bit about the end-story of the USS Indianapolis.
I feel ashamed to have even a hint of mental exhaustion after
sitting on my derriere watching the show and typing out occassional
posts regarding “The War”.
When I reflect on how the real participants felt about four
(and MORE for many) of total war.
“How will we go on...fighting the war? When our commander-in-chief
Nice opening for the successful...and orderly succession which is a
hallmark of a civilized country.
Even when we “fuss and fight” with words over the new President of
The United States of America.
Thanks Jim Robinson.
So far, I've seen several hours devoted to race relations during the war (almost all portraying America as evil), but I don't remember more than a passing mention of Germany's actions vs. the "Jewish question".
The documentary does make me respect what my fathers generation did. But I would have preferred it be quite a bit less politically correct, portrayed as the WWII generation saw themselves, rather than how the 60's generation sees their flaws in retrospect.
It was Peleliu that he said was unneeded. Iwo Jima they talked about the Japanese planes that would come up to to harass the B-29 formations on their way to and from Japan, and they showed a B-29 using the strip for an emergency landing.
RE: the stumbling courtship and eventual marriage of the fighter pilot
to the gal who waited for him in Louisiana...
along with all the other warriors that struggled “to find their way”
once they got home.
Here’s a movie that should be required viewing for high schoolers
“The Best Years of Our Lives”
“He talks about Iwo Jima as if it was an unneeded battle, killing Americans
for no good reason. “
As another poster mentioned, I think it was Peleliu that was the
(or one of the) unneccessary fights (in retrospect). IIRC, it was an
example of why the central command needs to constantly update plans based
on changing circumstances (e.g., other islands taken, reduced ability
of the Japanese to supply the island, etc.)
As for Iwo Jima, IIRC, a hobbled B-29 returning from Japan landed there
(the same day?) just as the airfield area was taken/cleaned up.
Having a useable airstrip much closer than Saipan (can’t remember the
other island) saved more than a few crews.
“So far, I’ve seen several hours devoted to race relations during the
war (almost all portraying America as evil)”
That’s my main complaint.
The concept of “America The Bigoted” surely could have been covered
in a much more concentrated AND pointed manner...in about half the
time Burns kept harping on it.
IMHO, Burns was just about as “ham-handed” in delivering that message
as Spielberg can be.
But, as a historical document, I do give Burns credit for getting in
clips of “soldiers of color” doing off-loading on the beaches on D-Day,
and driving a Sherman in during the breaking of “The Bulge” (probably
the “Black Panthers” unit, I would guess).
That wasn’t something I’ve seen...and I’ve seen TOO MUCH WWII footage!
..I think this one was great too--same theme and time period...
Thanks for the tip; I’ll have to check that out.
OK, a tip of the hat to Burns for his to-the-point work on the liberation
of “the camps”.
AND, MY HEAVENS...two ghastly photos I haven’t seen before.
One looks like the photographer got some height (up in a guard tower?)
and shot down.
All you really see is an alley of bodies neatly placed on the ground,
maybe 4 or 5 from left to right.
But then the eye follows the alley of bodies as it stretches...off...
to the horizon.
Probably “only” a half-mile or so.
But still simply stunning.
The second photo: stacks of skulls, with a huge mound of longer
bones just behind them.
Just like in the memorial of Pol Pot’s atrocities, or like the stacked
bones of buffaloe in our Old West (to be used to make fertilizer).
Thousands of airmen's lives were saved because we had Iwo as a safe haven to land. The runways were shorter than they would have liked, but between short runways and the ocean, I reckon the choice was obvious.
Victor Davis Hanson’s introduction to a new edition of E.B. Sledge’s
“With The Old Breed” is linked below:
Victor Davis Hanson’s uncle died during the campaign on Okinawa.
My wife just said she had never heard such a strong argument for dropping the bomb.
Indianapolis story on now
If we would have had to land in Japan I think Normandy would have looked like a walk in the park compared to the horror that was sure to follow...
“My wife just said she had never heard such a strong argument for dropping
For that segment, Burns did well.
I hope there is a similar concise coverage on the mechanics of deciding
to actually drop the bombs.
That’s because in the past I’ve heard of something like “Operation Olympic”,
a plan to drop something like 10 nuclear bombs into mountain passes and
major transportation arteries in Japan...to deny the Japanese any
easy mobilization and movement of troops/militia to the beaches.
Alot of bad things shown about the war, yet there’s many many more terrifying story’s out there not part of the official line.
Such as the German air raid on Bari Italy, a port there we used to unload merchant ships supporting Doolittle.
It was feared the Germans might use ‘mustard gas’ in 43, so FDR had ‘mustard gas’ shipped through there in case it was needed.
After the ship transporting the gas made the harbor, it was caught in the German bombing. The gas was spread throughout the harbor and town, killing many people. Since it was secret it took months to figure out what was killing the seaman, troops, and civilians, as the gas was diluted by the harbor water when the containers broke up.
Another disaster was just before DDay German torpedo boats sunk some of our ships carrying GI’s practicing landings. Many hundreds killed.
A couple of incidents not mentioned in ‘The War’
More info at these sites:
Re: Another disaster was just before DDay German torpedo boats sunk some of our ships carrying GIs practicing landings.
More info on Exercise Tiger at Lyme Bay:
I was deeply moved by Burn’s Civil War documentary and this series is also shaping up to be a moving experience. I am 30 and served 10 years in the military however my service doesn’t rise to the level of an infected hair on the foot of a WWII veteran. They were truly the greatest generation and I honor them for their sacrifices.
I am often reminded of this simple verse when I think about our nation’s veterans; “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13”
Did you hear the women from Alabama say that the A Bomb was the greatest thing. LOL
“I was deeply moved by Burns Civil War documentary and this series is
also shaping up to be a moving experience.”
I think the “end stories” on E.B. Sledge and Glen Frazier were just
pretty darned good.
“They were truly the greatest generation and I honor them for their sacrifices.”
I wouldn’t sell your cohort short.
It could be there is something to that genetics thing...
maybe the “Greatness” partially skipped a generation or so (and I’m not
dissing the boomer generation because plenty did their duty).
For more thought on the current (Next Greatest?) generation, please see
posts 34 and 35 at the link below:
“They were truly the greatest generation and I honor them for their sacrifices.”
Right now, I’m sort of shocked and pleased.
I was expecting to hear an hour or so from pontificators about why
America is a war-criminal nation (for the A-Bombs) and how we shouldn’t
have stood in “Judgement At Nuremburg”.
And the “end-story” for one of the Japanese-Americans and one for
a black American...
yes, they still got treated shabilly upon their return to the USA...
but Burns tells how each ended up with great “second” and “third”
acts (as they say in theater) for the rest of their lives.
Well, I’m still critical about some of the earlier episodes.
But I’d say that Burns hit the right notes in closing.
Check ‘er out :-)
The speech from FDR was very revealing. Even with his health problems, the war took a huge toll on him. I don’t agree with his politics, but he (along with Churchill and Hitler) was one of the best orators and motivators of our times. I have never seen the footage from that last speech, and how worn he was. His death had to be a devasting event..by all. And not much is ever said about that.
The ladies sewing our flags for our dead was gripping. What a sad, but proud job.
The amount of ordance that was produced is staggering.
The German citizens forced to bury the concentration victims. Don’t say it didn’t happen..just say I was scared to cause an opposition.
The similarities between the Kamikazes and the enemy we fight now. I think that they may have been the original “9-11” fighters. Willing to fight to the death.
I didn’t realize the Russians still used a true cavalry..with real horses. How that must have been to invade Berlin.
I have enjoyed the different points of view on this series.
I don't see the complaint. It's an uncomfortable subject, and as such it has to be faced rather than consigned to a footnote - or so would seem the operative logic. But I felt that he "worked through it", by showing how things changed, etc. and I never saw any hint of authorial reprobation. Even the dark moments of the Mobile racial unrest were presented as the frankly real circumstances, and served in fact to show why the authorities adhered to segregated work forces. This was a far cry from the liberal cluck-clucking that some would accuse Burns of.
There was one quick shot of a pair of very handsome draft horses pulling some Russian equipment down a Berlin street, stepping high as you please. Just one of those amazing and unexpected sights.
I haven't heard that argument publicly or in school, but I've heard it all my life from my Dad. He attributes his current existence to Truman's decision to drop the A-bomb.
The War by Ken Burns and how it addressed the segregation injustices in the U.S.
I agree that it bothered me some — that there was air time given to actions by a few which were obviously racist. Also included were realistic and factual examples of how prejudices and inequality were the standard operating procedures in America.
By the end of the 7th series, I felt that by addressing our nation’s racial problems, the program served as a good comparison of how other nations handled their racial issues. The systematic death and torture of millions by Germany and Japan was stopped.
We Americans do have high ideals and we should never be satisfied as long as there are any abuses and/or any signs of racial injustices.
Highlighting segregation in our country during WWII served to show that in the short time since WWII, there has been progress made. I think everyone can agree with that — although some will say there hasn’t been enough progress.
I’m proud of the Republican Party for taking the lead in the recognizing the talent and abilities of many black leaders. The conservative movement is the only hope for racial equality — each person responsible for his own actions and the laws fairly administered, disregarding race or creed.
The Democratic Party holds no promise to the equality of the races because it unconsciously upholds the “old ideas” that the races are not equal. Liberal thinking goes immediately to bending the law to overcompensate, or the passing of huge give-away programs, with the benefit going to one group and the cost of the program on the back of another group. That is not equality.
All-in-all, I thought The War series was magnificent. If every person in the U.S. would view it, I think it would have a significant impact on our country’s viewpoint toward war.
I’ve watched the whole series and noted some historical errors. They are not significant to the story, but I’m a believer in telling the truth in films of this nature. Did the film maker have access to a true history of the Air Force during the War? Burns made some claims that I had never heard nor read and I’m a vet of the AF and have read a lot.
I don’t know the extent of resources available to Burns.
But...you MIGHT get information after filing an inquiry via the
form at this URL:
First thanks for the great job you did [plus Jim R].
Some last comments:
Overall it was over focused on current political correctness set in the WW II era. [I didn’t see anything about American Italians or Germans who fought against their family heritage or Irish fighting on the side of England.]
For war, I like ‘Band of Brothers’, for sociology [post war], I too like ‘Best Years of our Lives’.
I was in Europe during the 6 and 7 periods so what was most interesting was what was going on in the Pacific and on the home-front. I particularly liked seeing the post-war celebrations. And I did like Truman dropping the bomb because I could come home instead of humping Pacific Islands.
Bottom line I would be in no hurry to see it again. I do own Private Ryan and I do see it again.
The part last night about the Holocaust was POWERFUL. It should have been played last week when that nutjob from Iran was in this country. Those American solders that saw it first hand told a powerful story. It sent chills down my spine.
Relocating families,building only 139 cars one year,gutting manufacturing facilities and revamping to build weapons,rationing...VERY patriotic and extreme. Today everyone would bitch that it's inconveniencing them from watching Deal or No Deal or making them miss bowling night....
I didn't say Iwo wasn't a worthwile invasion. But I do remember Burns downplaying it's necessity. Someone pointed out the Pelelu (sp?) certainly did not need to be invaded, but I seem to remember Burns talking about Iwo as if it was a wasted effort, even if he didn't explicity say so. Perhaps I remember it wrong.
The whole racial issue is a footnote. We didn't go to war over black vs. white issues. That's like documenting the wall street crash of 29, and spending a third of your time documenting how it affected the african-american boot blacks. Or documenting the creation of the National Parks and spending considerable time on the segregated bathrooms in Yellowstone lodges. Segregation was everywhere during those years, and we handled the war as we handled everything else then. I'm only surprised that Burns didn't spend time covering the fact that we didn't allow Women into battle zones, as we do now.
Race didn't have any appreciable affect on the war's outcome, the tactics used in battle, the manufacturing effort at home, the politics of the war effort, or the resulting international power structure set in place after the war. Had the US been totally white, no doubt the results of the war would have been the same, as long as we had the same number of workers.
If the history was on race relations, then covering how race was dealt with during the war would make sense. But the reverse doesn't make sense.
The academic world is infatuated with race today, and Burns is catering to what they want to see in order to gain critical acclaim.
I loved the opening comments last night about how if there’s “no evil, no God,” and “no evil, no war.” The problem today is that people don’t believe in evil, because if they did they’d have to believe in God too. And people don’t recognize evil when they see it. That’s why they are against the war in Iraq, they don’t see or understand the evil we are fighting.
There is actually some controversy about it. The main rationale for taking Iwo Jima beforehand was to provide a base for fighter escorts accompanying the B-29 raids, but only ten such missions were flown. 2251 B-29s made landings on the island, but apparently the vast majority weren't real emergencies. The Japanese planes on the island were a minor nuisance. The Japanese did have radar on the island that provided early warning to the home islands, but they also had it on other islands that were never attacked. The Wikipedia article on the battle gives a quick overview of the controversy, most of which comes from within the armed forces.
“The part last night about the Holocaust was POWERFUL.”
Agreed. And I’m still blown away by those two photos I hadn’t seen
before (mentioned in post 17 above).
I suspect that Burns will be deluged with requests to even just
“throw together” a compilation of any images/clips that
“ended up on the cutting room floor”.
But in this digital age, that might be a fairly simple affair for
some assistants to just pull out any digital copies of things they
copied from the archives...but Burns didn’t have time for inclusion.
RE: The Holocaust
Burns did a good job on that.
But for an even better documentary look, I think PBS’s FrontLine
production “Memory of The Camps” is the stunner that high school students
should be made to watch (after parents sign waivers!).
IIRC, the film had sat untouched for decades in a British archive,
but after re-discovery, someone patched it together, even though
sound-tracks were missing for some segments.
And I think Alfred Hitchcock did some of the early editing work (just
One memorable scene was a British chaplain standing next to
some of the open-pit graves, saying that what he’d seen was beyond words.
And I do give Burns credit for coming up with some images that concisely
got across most of what is covered at greater length in
“Memory of The Camps”.