Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The War

If you're not watching Ken Burns' epic documentary on PBS, "The War," you should be.

If you have been watching, undoubtedly you're as captivated by its images as I am.

"The War" is what I like to call "deep history." It is difficult to imagine so much evil happening simultaneously, involving so many millions of people, all across the globe. It is fascinating to listen to senior Americans, so eloquent as they reminisce, describing in vivid detail the daily life and dramatic moments of that time.

It is mind-boggling to realize that many of them were mere teenagers, fighting through some of the most brutal and extensive carnage human history has ever witnessed, each of them forever scarred by the loss of friends and family in battle.

The program has come under criticism for failing to adequately cover Hispanic and Native American servicemen. This, I find petty; the enormous scope of World War II renders impossible the task of representing each and every ethnic group. Each episode airs a disclaimer at the very beginning, noting that WWII was fought in thousands of places and no one story can encompass all of it. What more can be done to satisfy the noisemakers, I don't know.

Ken Burns consistently presents us with outstanding film chronicles of our country's history--The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and now this masterpiece, The War. In my opinion, he's the best documentary maker America has.

I'll say it again: if you aren't watching The War, you should be. It's the least a grateful nation can do.