(The War was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)
Kevin and I have only watched the first three hours of Ken Burns’ documentary The War, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to write my review. The War has played all week on PBS, and will be released on DVD this week, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a documentary that my children will be required to watch – probably when they reach junior high age, because it has some actual footage of battles and casualties.
Ken Burns has taken on one of the pivotal events of American history, World War II, and has done it justice, which is an unbelievable feat. Rather than give us a documentary that is a historical lecture about military strategy, he has taken four cities in the US and followed families from those cities throughout the war. From Sacramento to Japanese internment camps, from Waterbury, Connecticut to Monte Cassino, from Mobile, Alabama to Normandy, Burns brings the war home. I have yet to watch an episode without sobbing, as the men who served, the women who stayed behind, and the brothers and sisters who lost someone tell their stories.
The story of Babe Ciarlo: a young man so full of love for his mother that all of his letters home said that he was well-fed and bored, as he fought through the battlefields in Italy, and died in action right before his company entered Rome.
The story of young Japanese men who believed strongly in the country that the United States should be, and went into battle in spite of the fact that the same country had their parents and sisters and brothers locked behind barbed wire.
The story of black men who were not allowed to serve in white companies in a war in which we fought a man full of bigotry and hate. The fact that our government couuld not see the hypocrisy in that astounds me.
The story of women who waited at home, cherishing each letter, and dreading a telegram from Western Union.
The story of soldiers who were not much more than boys, seasick and sleep-deprived, battling the waves and watching their friends drown on their way to the beaches of Normandy.
The story of towns in the US banding together to save rubber, cooking grease, and metal in order to supply the amunitions factories.
The story of World War II shows the best of the United States, but the fact that racism and segregation and ignorance were in full force also shows some of the worst of our country’s history. Burns has crafted an unflinching look at the United States’ role in World War II, and the very human faces of the people who lived through it. This DVD set is an essential addition to any homeschooling library.