The War

Season 1 Episode 7

A World Without War

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Oct 02, 2007 on PBS
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Episode Summary

A World Without War
With the Nazis on the verge of surrendering, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warns the American citizens that the war with Japan could take several years to resolve.
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  • Burn's does a good job with personal stories but the conclusion needs more over-arching context.

    The final installment covers the liberation of Europe, the defeat of Japan, and the return of the American G.I.s.

    Ken Burn's took a bit of a risk in focusing his story of World War II on the Americans that served, and here it falls down a bit. The best parts of the conclusion are an examination of how the war affected the psychology of those who served for the rest of their lives. There's enough experience here to adequately cover the major events of both theaters and it's laudable to let the living participants tell their story before its too late.

    The viewer is reminded of something that is missing, the historians and experts needed to put such a massive conflict and example of human cruelty into some kind of framework. In "The Civil War", an outside perspective is useful for setting the stage, offering background and consequences of thoughts and actions that spiraled out-of-control. Something such as Word War II really needs this as well, at least as it concludes. What are the historical and psychological underpinnings of an Asian Empire that seeks to virtually enslave a quarter of the globe? How could Germany believe that Hitler could have bartered for peace with an enraged Soviet Union? How could the Nazis have administered Europe at the same time that they sought to ethnically cleanse it? The answers are hardly known, but the issues are immense and lost to the format of "The War". The musical scoring also emphasizes this, one original song is a sung piece centering on patriotism and the main theme is a subdued string composition that lays a sadly hopeless curtain over the series.

    Ken Burns turns in a nice personal piece with "The War", but the final installment shows quite well that some of the potential grandeur is missing.moreless

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