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Old 06-15-2020, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
2,267 posts, read 3,724,004 times
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I watched the entire series years ago and found it to be very thought provoking and educational. I also have the accompanying book and read it over and over again because it is so addictive history. Yet some people kind of feel that Burns over-commercializes history. I don't feel that way about his Civil War Series but then I am not a professional historian so I wouldn't really know. How accurate is his version of the Civil War? What do others think?


Some highlights of the Civil War Period covered in the series that many people tend to forget. It is important to reflect on these in light of the recent protests, the banning of the Confederate flag, and destruction of statues of figures from that era.



- The Civil War was fought primarily to prevent the South from seceding
- Not every Southerner supported secession and not every Northerner was pro-Union either
- Likewise not everyone who opposed secession opposed slavery or supported Blacks either; racist bigotry existed on both sides

- Robert E. Lee was not a supporter of secession or slavery and freed his own slaves but he was supremely dedicated to his home State of Virginia, which was why he turned down Lincoln's offer to lead the Army of the Potomac.

- There was a race riot that broke out in New York City shortly after Gettysburg
-Northerners and Southerners, Unionists and Rebels alike had friends and even relatives that fought on opposing sides which made the Civil War all the more ugly and unbearable
- Lincoln at times came off as an opportunist and relied on the prosecution of the war for his own political gains, especially around the time of the Election of 1864

- Years after the war when the re-united nation healed, many veterans from both sides forgave each other and wanted to move on
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:28 PM
 
2,126 posts, read 572,116 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Peasant View Post
- The Civil War was fought primarily to prevent the South from seceding
True, and you can throw in that most soldiers fought because the damyankees were on their land.

It is a trite misunderstanding to say that the war was fought over slavery...

...but every single aspect of it traces directly to the South's desire to preserve slavery.

They weren't seceding from high and noble principles about states' rights; they were seceding to prevent the US from outlawing slavery in their state. Their documents of secession make that baldly clear.

It is an exceedingly complex war and ten years of history, but no amount of misdirection and Lee's high morals and soldiers' journals conceal what it was all, in the beginning and the end, really about.
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:43 PM
 
Location: Boston, MA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Therblig View Post
True, and you can throw in that most soldiers fought because the damyankees were on their land.

It is a trite misunderstanding to say that the war was fought over slavery...

...but every single aspect of it traces directly to the South's desire to preserve slavery.

They weren't seceding from high and noble principles about states' rights; they were seceding to prevent the US from outlawing slavery in their state. Their documents of secession make that baldly clear.

It is an exceedingly complex war and ten years of history, but no amount of misdirection and Lee's high morals and soldiers' journals conceal what it was all, in the beginning and the end, really about.

True and the sad truth was that many Northerners were opposed to slavery not because they supported the rights and welfare of Blacks but because they found Southern slavery to be an economic disadvantage to them. This was especially true in the Midwestern States where laborers had to be paid living wages or worked hard to earn their bread while slaves did all the hard work on the plantations down South. This was why they wanted to outlaw slavery, not because they cared about the slaves themselves. As I said earlier, many Northerners were just as racist and bigoted towards Blacks as their southern brethren.



Another related point to add to my list above is the fact that Union regiments were also formed in many southern states, mainly comprising of poor slaveless farmers and uplanders who did not benefit from the slave trade either.
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Old 06-16-2020, 01:11 AM
 
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Remember the Ken Burns documentary was made 30 years ago, and without the revisionist pressures of May/June 2020.
And he used the most eminent Civil War Historians at the time to assist with the making of the program, including Shelby Foote, Barbara Fields, Ed Bearss and Stephen Oats among quite a few others with expertise in the field.
I've just finished a 3 part doco called 'Grant', which I also enjoyed ( life and times of Ulysses S Grant. ) The Ken Burns series did not quite paint Grant in the same 'revered status' as did the recent doco on the Civil War General and President.
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Old 06-16-2020, 04:57 AM
 
Location: Wartrace,TN
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If you enjoyed Ken Burns you should also look into Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative which is a three volume set covering the entire civil war in great detail.

I have the audible audiobooks and it was one of the most interesting books I've listened to.
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Old 06-16-2020, 06:15 AM
 
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The comments in this very thread reveal a fatal flaw in the Civil War documentary: Shelby Foote.

Shelby Foote is not an eminent historian. He is a novelist who wrote three massive tomes on the Civil War. They're well-written narrative history, but they're fifty years old, outdated and not based on original research. He approached the story of the Civil War as a novelist, not a historian.

Now, the documentary is not wrong in the sense that virtually every YouTube history video is wrong. Most of it is fine, if a little generalized due to the nature of being a TV documentary. But Shelby Foote in particular is well-known for romanticizing the war and the South.

It's been a while since I watched it so I can't speak to specific claims, but consider this just a general warning about it. It's a romanticized version of the war, for sure. We understand so much more about the war now than we did then, so I'd strongly recommend reading recent research. There hasn't been a recent documentary that updates Ken Burns' so I can't steer you toward that, unfortunately.

That being said, it's not a bad documentary, but because it's outdated and even at the time relied on some questionable pro-Southern interpretations it's best to view it with a grain of salt.
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Old 06-17-2020, 05:28 AM
 
Location: The North Star State
2,599 posts, read 792,298 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
The comments in this very thread reveal a fatal flaw in the Civil War documentary: Shelby Foote.

Shelby Foote is not an eminent historian. He is a novelist who wrote three massive tomes on the Civil War. They're well-written narrative history, but they're fifty years old, outdated and not based on original research. He approached the story of the Civil War as a novelist, not a historian.

Now, the documentary is not wrong in the sense that virtually every YouTube history video is wrong. Most of it is fine, if a little generalized due to the nature of being a TV documentary. But Shelby Foote in particular is well-known for romanticizing the war and the South.

It's been a while since I watched it so I can't speak to specific claims, but consider this just a general warning about it. It's a romanticized version of the war, for sure. We understand so much more about the war now than we did then, so I'd strongly recommend reading recent research. There hasn't been a recent documentary that updates Ken Burns' so I can't steer you toward that, unfortunately.

That being said, it's not a bad documentary, but because it's outdated and even at the time relied on some questionable pro-Southern interpretations it's best to view it with a grain of salt.
You're quite right.

Of course, The Civil War is Ken Burns' documentary, so the more ridiculous of Foote's ideas ...

*The usual 'states rights' canard
*The fawning over those like Davis (constantly compared favorably to Washington and Lincoln) and Forrest ('one of the most attractive men who ever walked through the pages of history' - Foote's words, I kid you not)
*The first Ku Klux Klan never committed any lynchings (they did, among other terrorism)
*That emancipation was a sin 'almost as great' (again, his words) as slavery
*That the role of blacks in the Civil War is overblown
*That his 'black friends' would not be pained by the Confederate flag if only they read the Confederate constitution and thereby understood it
[just a sampling of Foote's denialism and reverence]

...do not make the final cut.

But the overall sentiment - the Lost Cause of the great and noble Confederacy, to which slavery was merely incidental and minor (despite the fact that seceding states made it very clear in their orders of secession that the grievances leading to rupture was slavery, slavery, and slavery), and the terrible victimization of the innocent Southerners (whites, of course - enslaved blacks are merely an uninteresting footnote in Foote's world) - certainly bleeds through.

That's unfortunate, for the series is otherwise quite poignant, a tragic look that celebrates the step forward resulting from the conflict but which doesn't romanticize the terrible war itself.
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Old 06-17-2020, 09:24 AM
 
2,126 posts, read 572,116 times
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Originally Posted by greysrigging View Post
Remember the Ken Burns documentary was made 30 years ago, and without the revisionist pressures of May/June 2020.
I don't think things have changed too much in that period, except that the Lost Cause mythos was still given some credence by Joe Q. Public.

Quote:
And he used the most eminent Civil War Historians at the time to assist with the making of the program, including Shelby Foote...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wartrace View Post
If you enjoyed Ken Burns you should also look into Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative which is a three volume set covering the entire civil war in great detail.
...who wrote his first volume in full Lost Cause mode and only slowly evolved his viewpoint by the time he completed the trilogy ten years later. An engaging writer and speaker, but Burns relied a little too much on his viewpoint even while knowing it was something to be downplayed.

De few po'trayals of de black folk in his first book be... shockingly racist. And he skimmed over nearly every issue actually related to slavery, black Union soldiers, etc. (while patiently describing the trajectory of every Southern bullet fired, in some battles, none of which he found too minor to summarize).
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Old 06-18-2020, 03:19 PM
 
Location: Florida
6,196 posts, read 3,721,617 times
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How many thousands would not have died if Lincoln had simply removed the troops from Ft Sumter?
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Old 06-18-2020, 03:44 PM
 
2,126 posts, read 572,116 times
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Originally Posted by engineman View Post
How many thousands would not have died if Lincoln had simply removed the troops from Ft Sumter?
The same amount. The war was not over that tiny island fortification.
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