The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945
Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. 451 pp. Illus. Bib. Index. $50.
This printed companion to the recent PBS television series of the same name by Ken Burns focuses on more than 40 men and women from Minnesota, California, Connecticut, and Alabama. Gathered largely from their memories, the conflict is tracked from start to finish, reflecting the views of those who fought the battles and lent support at home.
After Burns' epic series on the Civil War, he decided against further coverage of warfare and its attendant horrors. Later, however, after learning that 1,000 American veterans of World War II were dying every day, he decided that if we "neglected to hear them out before they passed away, we would be guilty of a historical amnesia too irresponsible to countenance."
All major wartime events are related from the perspectives of ordinary Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. In addition, there are narratives about prisoners of war, Japanese-American internees, defense workers, and families who struggled to stay together while their men were off to war.