Ken Burns: The Civil War (1990)




Ken Burns’s miniseries The Civil War was released on PBS in 1990. The series contains nine episodes, each chronicling major events throughout the war. Told chronologically, each episode delves into subtopics related to a larger episode theme.

The series was released after the 125th anniversary of the Civil War’s end, and it has been credited with reviving popular interest in the Civil War. It has attracted some criticism for its often romanticized view of the war and its relative neglect of the war’s larger causes.

At the time of airing, it was the most-watched documentary series ever released on PBS. The miniseries brought the historical content of the Civil War back into the public eye. It also made Ken Burns a legend in documentary filmmaking. The series has continually been re-released since and has maintained considerable popularity.




Robert Brent Toplin, Ken Burns’s The Civil War: Historians Respond, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Jordan Hoffman, “Ken Burn’s The Civil War: America’s Greatest Documentary Rides Again,” The Guardian, September 4, 2015.

Jeffrey Kluger, “‘The Civil War’ Documentary 25 Years Later,” Time, October 9, 2015.

Matthew Cooper, “Ken Burn’s Merciful Portrayal of the South in ‘The Civil War’ is a Good Lesson for 2015,” Newsweek, September 11, 2015.



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