by UnHerd
Wednesday, 22
September 2021

Ken Burns: America is in a pre-civil war condition

Few know American history as well as the documentary maker
by UnHerd

Ken Burns is a documentary maker known for his films on American history. Jazz, baseball, The Roosevelts, prohibition and the Vietnam war have all been subjects that he has taken on in the last thirty years.

Arguably his most famous film is 1990’s The Civil War. Considered groundbreaking at the time, it was watched by more than 39 million Americans. It received countless awards.

Burns says that the present day is one of the worst times in American history: “It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it.”

He made the comment while on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman, and Will Arnett, comparing America in 2021 with the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II.

Burns went on to quote a speech made by Abraham Lincoln:

From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.
- Abraham Lincoln, January 1838

“We’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun,” Burns added.

Join the discussion

  • I just wish more young documentary film makers, or old ones for that matter, would learn from Ken Burns’ example how to make outstanding documentaries instead of giving us the stuff they do across British TV.

  • Another example of the left eating the left. Burns has always been strongly left-leaning to the detriment of some of his documentaries, imo. He was advocating bame causes before it was as fashionable as it is today. If they can come for him they can come for anyone.

  • Surely that was a case of giving someone enough rope to hang them-self. Shelby was a fantastic apologist for the South. He sucked you into the old lie that the War wasn’t about slavery but then cut the ground from under his own feet. It was entirely necessary to show the arguments for the Southern cause. It would have been much weaker as a documentary if it had been more one sided.

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