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Ken Burns

Ken Burns’ latest epic, “The Roosevelts” debuts this evening and runs for the next seven nights on PBS. I feel certain it will be as well done as his documentaries on jazz, the Civil War, and baseball.

Earl and I once saw Burns speak.  He spoke very quickly so you had to pay close attention.  There was no time for the mind to wander. He spoke a long time too, almost a little too long.  But in the end, he brought his topic back to the beginning and wove a finely finished presentation.  It was worth the ‘attention’ investment.

What I remember most, even though that speech was several years ago, was that Burns explained how he uses iconic symbols – people, music, sports – to present history in a palatable way for those of us who are not history buffs.  You think you’re learning about the Roosevelts, but you’re really learning about a period in history that they were part of. You’re learning about the bigger picture and not just the family minutiae. It is Burns’ particular skill that he can keep you interested.

“The Roosevelts” runs for the next seven nights, and I am traveling four of them.  But thanks to recording capabilities on our television set and Earl’s skill at it, I hope to see the entire fourteen hour offering.  I know already it will be worthwhile. And I shall learn a lot in the deal too.

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