Ken Burns


“I’d Gone with Mississippi”

In July I’m having my Southern Literature Club read Shelby Foote’s central chapter on the Gettysburg Campaign found in the second part of his literary masterpiece, The Civil War: A Narrative. When filmmaker Ken Burns began work on his greatest film, The Civil War documentary series, (which remains to this day PBS’s most watched presentation with 40 million viewers. I…

Revisiting 25 Years of Revisionist Claptrap

With its usual promotional hype, PBS re-broadcasted its 1990 program The Civil War. This 25-year-old program, along with Jazz and Baseball constitutes Ken Burns' trilogy on racial relations. Wanting to make the Civil War "comprehensible to a contemporary audience", Burns chose to present a "social history", one that was heavily influenced by contemporary socio/political sentiments. Burns publicly admitted that he…
Gail Jarvis
September 24, 2015

PBS’s “The Civil War”: The Mythmanagement of History

This piece was originally printed by Southern Partisan magazine in 1990. In the September issue of the American Historical Association's newsletter, a rave review predicted that the PBS production "The Civil War" might become "the Gone With the Wind of documen­taries." After watching almost all of it, I would suggest Uncle Tom's Cabin as its fictional alter ego. But let…
Ludwell H. Johnson
May 25, 2015