Preservation TV: What to Watch

Winter remains. I know, I’m a broken record. How about the bright side of a long winter? Ready? Historical documentaries. Who’s with me? A cold night, a bowl of popcorn, a glass of wine and good company make the perfect setting for absorbing history and the perfect antidote to winter. My top three favorites are:

(1) The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns (PBS)

If you’ve read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, this film will sound familiar. The story of the Dust Bowl is incredible. With amazing images and interviews, you’ll come to understand the greater context of the Dust Bowl in American society and beyond.

(2) The Men Who Built America – the History Channel

John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford – their stories are weaved together in a way that you’ve never thought of or realized. It’s fascinating.

(3) New York: A Documentary Film by Ric Burns (PBS)

In full disclosure, I’m not yet finished with this eight part series, but I’m completely engrossed. There are so many pieces of history left out of history class. Did you know Wall Street in NYC is called as such because there was originally a wall from Dutch settlements? There were riots led by Irish immigrants. The NYC subway was constructed in only four years. From the beginning of New York (New Amsterdam) to the modern day (pre 9/11/2001, however), this is entirely engaging.

Telling history accurately while captivating the audience is a true art form. I’m grateful to those who do it so well.

What are your favorites? Please give me more to watch and study!


6 thoughts on “Preservation TV: What to Watch

  1. Chad says:

    The Ric Burns documentary on NY is great. I just picked up a massive book on the history of 19th century NY, called “Gotham.” I look forward to reading that.
    The best historical documentary I have seen, and it really has no comparison, is Claude Lanzman’s “Shoah,” on the Holocaust. His style of historical storytelling is revolutionary, and has been a big influence on me. Also, I just saw an American Experience documentary on the Donner Party. The music in it is particularly good:
    Check out this documentary I directed on the relocation of a 19th century African American cemetery:

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