New Ken Burns WWII, anyone watching it?

How does everyone like it? I am enjoying it. Very powerful images. My uncle served in the Pacific and was affected for years after. My father was too young but later served in the Korean war

I was excited to see that Ken Burns had chose my own home town (Sacramento) as one of towns he featured.

I’ve been glued to the TV for this documentary. I love history and especially this time period.

How do you think Ken Burns did with this one so far?

What I have seen looks pretty good. It seems real and the narration sets the context well. WWII was my father’s and father-in-laws war and because of this I am a kind of WWII buff.

For Americans WWII was the last declared war, and it was the last war we won - if we won it (only 52 million people dead).

But aren’t you all sick of politicians coming up time and time again with the same old bright idea of always using wars to “fix” things? WWII started when Hitler invaded Poland from the west and Stalin invaded it from the east. In other words, without Stalin agreeing to invade, there would have been no WWII. At the end of WWII, Stalin controlled half of Europe (10 countries). In other words, one of the guys that started the war, actual has the best claim for being the one who won the war.

The current crop of elected American politicians are practically all against ending wars, whatever their rationalization for it may be, whatever the American people may say, the practical result is the same: the neverending war.

I think it’s very good – my only complaint might be that he’s chosen too few people as narrators/witnesses, whatever. His Civil War series was better.
I was struck by how many of our soldier’s lives were wasted by general’s blunders (Sicily, Anzio, Cassino, &c, as nauseum).

Likewise, I never knew medics got paid less than other soldiers. My father was a medic in the Army Air Corps.

I thought it was a masterpiece. It was so completely refreshing to watch a film, beautifully edited, narrated, and documented, that had NO agenda. He simply told the story, warts and all.

The veterans (and the lovely, lovely women they married or were related to) made me weep. Their humility, honesty, and selflessness stirred in me such a love for our military men. It sparked an illuminating conversation between me and my dad, who served in Japan after the war during the occupation. I am broken-hearted at the thought that within the next 2 decades, these brave and heroic men and women will no longer be with us to provide their powerful witness.

I have also been moved to tears by the footage of life in America circa 1940’s. Listening to FDR begin speeches by addressing “God Almighty, Our Creator,” makes me realize how very far we have fallen from our roots in this country. Seeing the film of soldiers receiving Holy Communion on the ships and in the fields of battle, grasping their rosaries as they face the enemy, and praying over the bodies of their fallen commrades reminds me that it was not that long ago that we, as a people, actually did consider God an essential part of American life.

Even the egregious wrongs done to the Japanese Americans and the African Americans in the US at that time were set aside by those who were the victims of this injustice in order to fight for the country they loved.

This is filmmaking at it’s best. I managed to get my whole family involved in watching and discussing WWII. We all learned things we had never known before. We were reminded of the greatness of this country and the sacrifice of our military men and women. We have all been deeply moved.

I’m not much of a TV person. Could you give me the information about its airing?

There is no generation I admire more than my grandparents, those of WWII.

I finished watching the last part last night and it was 11 out of 10. Another very well done documentary by Ken Burns. I like his approach in how he spins the different parts of his story, the horrors of war, despair and racial strife (both African Americans and Asian Americans) undertones at home without jingoistic overtones.

I see the Russian Front is pretty much ignored, but that gets away from where Burns is trying to go. He is showing the effect on the US mainland. He could do another entire documentary just on eastern Europe and Russia during this time period.

I have also enjoyed WWII history study and I am looking to pledge ($365) to PBS to get the DVD set as soon as possible.

I finished watching the series last night. This was my parent’s generation and I was born a short six years after the war. Much was not explained to we children in the years after the war. There was Victory at Sea which I watched with my father. My father served in the Navy in the Pacific as an aircraft mechanic. He served on Gudalcanal after the Marines took it and then moved up to Munda, New Georgia. I assumed that that is where he served out the war…he never talked any further about it. My sister later found out that my father was on aircraft carriers to the end of the war and saw the onslaught of the kamikazes.

Likewise, my Uncle Leo served on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I often wondered why he was not able to work when I was a teenager. Or why my Uncle Joe was always so distant - he served through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Or my wife’s Uncle Al who was captured in the Battle of the Bulge.

Such things were not spoke of to us kids back in the 50s and 60s. My wife and I watched the entire series and so many things began to make sense.

The episode last night enfuriated me towards those who call us terrorists for dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They should watch that last episode. Likewise, I think the president of Iran should watch that last episode - and the tears of those old men who saw that which they should not have seen in their youth.

Ken Burns did a remarkable job.

Somewhat of the same thing in my family. My (great) uncle Bruce was a Marine from 1939-1961. My mom and grandmother said they remember after he retired he would sit around, get drunk at home by him self the evenings my (great) aunt worked late, and pick up the phone and call relatives until she came home. He was a very happy and well mannered drunk from what I understand. My mom said that it wasn’t until after his death she found out why he was that way (drinking alot when by himself): he was at Guadalcanal, Sai Pan, Okinawa, was supposed to be apart of teh 3rd wave of troops for the invasin of Japan, part of the releif force for the Chosen “Frozen” and finally wounded later on in the Korean War and sent home.

I’ve seen many, many documentaries on WWII, so this was not my first experience with such material. Burns series has a lot of good things in it, except for the dreary cello and violin music chosen for the background. It was played in the most inappropriate places, making it seem as though there was nothing good that was being done by our armed forces. I am very sensitive to musical atmosphere on film and found it downright depressing. Death and more death seemed the main theme of the music. It was, for me, a big distraction besides being unnecessary and heavy-handed.

Della, I noticed the music too. But my take on it was that it was retrospective and in line with what the individual interviewee’s remembered. He did the same thing in the Civil War, the “Ashokan Farewell”, “Lorena”, “I Am a Good Old Rebel” - are all laments.

Contrast that with Richard Rodgers score for Victory at Sea.

I was really upset at the beginning of the series (and actually throughout it) that he pretty much glossed over the naval battles and the Navy’s contribution. The contrast between Victory at Sea and The War is a contrast between triumphalism and retrospective. You could see the “thousand yard stare” still viable after all these many years in the eyes of those vets.

The music may have been depressing but the words of the vets last night - particularly one - who said that prior to D-Day he did not know why Eisenhower called the invasion “a Crusade” and then his sudden realization why when they came upon a concentration camp was telling to me.

For me the music of Burns’ series did just the opposite. It made it seem that there was no good reason for all our men going to fight. If only he had used more of the music of the era instead of the dreary cello/violin composition. Even when there were victories the viewer wasn’t allowed to celebrate them. All one was allowed to feel was how terrible it was, and yes it was terrible, but it was also the high point of American life when we stepped forward and helped rid the world of an evil so bad there are no words to describe it.

The thing is that now days we no longer believe there is an evil except what the PC crowd tells us is evil, so there’s no such thing as a clear victory nor anything worth dying for, which is what I saw reflected in this series. A modern, and to my mind wrong-headed, perspective was imposed on another time and a people who didn’t believe in such a poisoned view of life and would have rejected it as defeatist if presented with it in their day.

This is just MHO, but it’s how it struck me, sad to say.

Wow! I didn’t come away with that at all. There was enough Benny Goodman, Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, etc. to more than balance out the cello/violin dirges. It might be interesting to note that the National WWII Museum is in New Orleans and I purchased a brick to honor my father and support the museum. They are expanding the museum as I write.

The WWII museum tries to portray the struggle in non-partisan tones. History for history’s sake. Burns did the same thing in the Civil War - it certainly wasn’t the Civil War told from a Southern point of view. His is an abstract view which simply acknowledges the facts. I did not find his explanations of what the Germans or the Japanese did to be apologetic in any way. What was is what was.

Now, sixty years later, Burns’ is applying the analytic lense of history the same way he did for the Civil War. I don’t think he is doing anything to detract from our WWII Vets. He is simply recognizing the profound trauma they encountered and how it impacted their lives.

I thought the series was a masterpiece - footage, interviews,and music. The Norah Jones version of “American Anthem” by Gene Scheer ("America, I gave my best to you…) just did me in. My 87 year old dad is a Navy vet of the Pacific campaign and all I could think of was the stories he has told me over the years. My late FIL was an Army veteran who fought in Europe post D-day.

We have lived for years in Mobile, AL, and have met most of the Mobilians in the film (Katharine and Sid Phillips, Herndon Inge, John Gray, Tom Galloway - all sharp as tacks and wonderful people.) My husband is a broadcast journalist who had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ken Burns when he was in town in early September for a preview showing of a portion of the series. He is a brilliant, talented, eloquent and humble man, and was kind enough to give my husband a copy of the DVD, which we will treasure.

If you are interested, here is a link to the interview my husband did with Ken.;jsessionid=6CE51B766311292E00E370F646C048AF?contentId=4315246&version=5&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=1.1.1&sflg=1

Not quite. Britain and France entered the to defend Polish integrity. Obviously, that didn’t happen. After Austria and Czechoslovakia, the British and the French decided that they had to act. Too little, too late. If the French had stood up to Hitler when he re-militarized the Rhineland in 1935, things might have turned out differently.

Of course, if the US had minded its own business and stayed out of WWI, perhaps WWII in Europe would never have happened.

Don’t blame Stalin.

Your post gave me goose-bumps! I agree completely with your critique. While my dad has spoken in snippets over the years about his experience, it took this film-masterpiece to start an animated dialogue which was full of illuminating insights into who he is as a man and how that generation views life. What a gift!

I agree with you that so little was discussed in many American households about the war that I confess my understanding was as flimsy as a nylon stocking. Having been raised in the era of hippie pacifism, I always rebuked the use of the atom bomb. To hear the lovely and articulate Katherine Phillips state unequivocally that her generation would “defy” anyone who claimed the use of the bomb was wrong made me understand at my core the profound losses our country endured.

I also saw a fascinating special on the History Channel about the Manhattan Project. The point was made that since the creation of the bomb, losses such as those suffered in WWI and II, have not been repeated. While all deaths are a tragedy, the argument was made that the atom bomb could actually be a “peace” weapon in that the threat alone curtails brutality.

I didn’t get that at all and believe me, I was looking for that message to seep through!

I loved his choice of music. In fact, I have been driven to madness trying to find out the name of the one particular cello piece (I think it’s Bach) that played almost continuously throughout. The credits at the end were too tiny for me to read, although I tried desperately! For me, the intent was not to provoke a nihilistic world view, but rather a contemplative look at the horror of war. His judicious use of the music when showing the death and destruction was appropriate, IMO. It did not prevent me from experiencing the joy and jubilation of the victories. In fact, it probably made them more meaningful when seen in the light of the enormous sacrifices made by our guys.

My husband and I watched the first episode last night. While we enjoyed most of the other music we found the cello/violin during the interviews intrusive. Good music, it jsut shouldn’t be played during the interviews.

I did like the fact that they used music that was written during the time-period though. Its, I think, difficult to find much that is good to listen to (classical) during that time period.

For another poster - No Bach. Here’s a link to a short article on the music for the series: is selling a 4-disk CD of the soundtrack, and has small clips of most every piece, to which you can listen. Perhaps you could listen to the most likely clips, and figure out the name in this manner?

During the previous year, Hispanic groups complained that “The War” ignored Hispanic contributions to the U.S. war effort. Were their concerns addressed in the series? If so, was it adequate? (I have been away from home and unable to view the series.)

At the end lf one episode, there were a couple of additional interviews with Hispanic American soldiers, and I noticed them again later in the series.

I found the anger displayed by the Hispanic community at being initially “left out” of the series a little puzzling. (And I want to be careful here…) Blacks were segregated, Japanese American citizens were interned, and Jewish people had a special stake in the war due to Hitler’s insanity - that provides context for highlighting individuals with those ethnicities. Unless I’ve missed something, it doesn’t seem that there really needed to be special emphasis on the role of Hispanic Americans, per se, during WW II - no more than the role of Irish Americans, Polish Americans, etc. (I’m Irish, for purposes of disclosure.) I don’t think it dawned on Ken Burns that there was any real reason to single out Hispanic American contributions to the War (aside from the fact that there are, today, many Hispanic citizens) and he initially resisted adding the footage, as I understand. It just struck me as hypersensitivity, I guess. Just my thoughts…

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