Video: Civil War 150: Ken Burns on anniversary

Nov 09, 2010

Filmmaker Ken Burns will be online Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 11:30 a.m. ET in a live video chat to discuss the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Civil War 150.

The Civil War was one of the earliest examples of photographic historical records of war. Is there a single image that moves more than any other? If so, what was the image and how did it move you?

Our tortured history with racial relations, primarily African-Americans, has been a recurring strand through your series. Have you considered a series on the American experience with Native Americans?

It is easy to see from all of your works, that you are a big history buff. I am a huge fan of "The Civil War" documentary you did, and watch it on a regular basis at home.  What about that time period to you find the most compelling?

What role have you taken in the preservation efforts that have been conducted by local battlefield preservaton groups at Civil War sites in Virginia and Maryland? David

I have long maintained that the Civil War was about slavery, despite Lincoln's and others' protestations that they only wanted to save the Union. Many others maintain that it was all about states' rights, even though the right that mattered was slavery. Would we be better off if the entire nation just admitted that the major issue was slavery, and that it was morally wrong?

Kansas, in its much disputed entry into the Union, degraded into years of a Civil War of its own right. What were the factors that contributed to Kansas continuing fighting after the official end of the US Civil War and what factors eventually ended the fighting? Has this legacy in Kansas effected its politics to this day?

One irony of the war over secession is that Lincoln allowed West Virginia to secede from Virginia. I live in West Virginia so I know the reasons the mountain people wanted their own state but no other state has been carved out of an existing state, just colonies or territories. Doesn't his strike you as odd or hypocritical?

Mr. Burns: I know this sounds silly, but when you started work, did you ever worry "no one will want to watch a TV series of several episodes, all consisting of a series of photos with narration"?

... what would be the final score?

Knowing that projects take time, what works have you been working on, if you are able to tell us?

In your research for your Civil War documentary series, did you come away feeling that the Confederacy could have successfully seceded from the Union with a different military strategy or was secession doomed from the beginning?

Did the south ever recover from the brutality that infected its society because of its economic reliance on slavery and the brutality of a war necessary to stop its indulgence in slavery?

Is it true that SC never formally surrendered? #civilwarchat


In your film The Civil War, you discuss the first national Thanksgiving, and how the starving Confederate soldiers sat only a few yards away from the Union soldiers who were feasting. Why do you think the Confederates respected that day? Why did they watch the Unioners eat instead of attack them?

In This Chat
Ken Burns
Ken Burns is a director and producer of documentary films who is known for his style of using archival film footage and photographs. His films include 'The Civil War,' Baseball,' 'Jazz,' 'The War' and 'The National Parks.'
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