This Essay is an Experiment
How Ken Burns and Lynn Novick became the semi-official film documentarians of United States history is an interesting question. Part of the answer lay in the way they manage to whitewash the criminal record of U.S. imperialism. One example of this came in their 2007 “Public” Broadcasting System (“P”BS) documentary on World War II, where they re-transmitted the myth that Harry Truman atom-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki – killing 146,000 Japanese civilians with two weapons – to “save [U.S.] lives.” Burns and Novick ignored compelling primary source evidence and historical literature showing that top U.S. military and intelligence leaders understood that Japan was defeated and seeking surrender at the end of World War II and that the atom bomb crimes were perpetrated to demonstrate unassailable U.S. power to the world and especially to the Soviet Union in the post-WWII era.
Along the way, Burns and Novick’s “The War” accepted without comment the notion that the Philippine Commonwealth (seized and suppressed with massive bloody force by the U.S. during and after the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 20th Century) belonged rightfully to the U.S. before it was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. The filmmakers also pretended that Washington had no reason to expect the Pearl Harbor assault – this even though the U.S. had been waging crippling economic war on Tokyo for many years.
I have not been watching Burns and…