Monday, October 01, 2007

Why I haven't been writing of late...

I blame Ken Burn's excellent documentary "The War," airing since last Sunday on PBS. has it for pre-order at $79.

I've already ordered my copy.


Dan Brekke said...

The airing of "The War" coincides with our decision to pull the plug on broadcast TV. So I haven't seen any of the show yet, but will on DVD.

It makes me feel bad on several levels to say it, but from the promotional stories NPR was doing before the show first aired, I feel like "The War" is absolutely the last thing we need right now -- another glorification of our military (this is coming from someone who loved "Band of Brothers" and has always been fascinated by military history). I heard Burns talking about why he did this project, and he said something about how the war generation hadn't been sufficiently honored. Excuse me, but he must be living in a different country from the one I grew up in. My take is that gratitude to the war generation has been the official policy of the United States -- as it well should have been. But at a moment when the military has become a dangerously anti-democratic institution -- an instrument to carry out the will of a reckless commander and a force that's apparently above criticism -- we don't need more "greatest generation" propaganda that puts the armed forces on a pedestal (and, along the way, downplays our allies' role in the proceedings).

Dr Ralph said...

What makes "The War" interesting viewing (at least for me) is the approach Burns' takes: focusing on how the war affected ordinary people, both at home and in the services.

It's pretty unflinching in how it looks at many topics either glossed over or sentimentalized, including the internment of US citizens in concentration camps because of their ancestry, the shocking ineptitude of many military commanders, the tense race relations both in the military and defense plants, and the overall horrific absurdity of war. I've gotten through three nights: not so many pedestals on display so far.

Your point about the recklessness of our current commander is well-taken (as always). His (and other's) cynical exploitation of history to further a narrow and self-serving agenda is sickening.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on the series once you get a chance to see it on DVD. By the way, I commend you for pulling the plug on broadcast TV. I wish I had the same strength of will!