Lazy Sunday: The West

By Ann Shayne
October 13, 2019

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  • Watched Country Music followed by the Dust Bowl,Republic of Suffering,New York,and finished up with Jazz.All genius work.

  • I have watched so many of Ken Burns’ documentaries! I love Peter Coyote’s voice… the first time I saw him and heard his voice, at the same time was… different!

  • I can’t enjoy Ken Burns after his Civil War documentary. He is telling men’s history, through men’s videos, books and viewpoints. Except for Mary Chestnut, he is not interested in women. I was a teen through the Vietnam War, my classmates were drafted. The news was brought to us by male newscasters, we heard male soldier’s voices, male protesters voices, male politicians voices. It hurt at the time that women were not heard, and it’s still going on.

    • I will venture to say that you would like Country Music as it in no way fails to tell women’s stories.

    • Maybe that’s why, except for the country music one, I never found them interesting. Especially that first baseball one. OMG!!! What could be more boring than watching baseball on tv? A million hour doc about it, of course!

    • Totally agree.

  • Thank you — I certainly will watch this at your recommendation!
    Believe it or not, I still have your article ‘The Lifechanging Magic of
    Keeping it All’ in print; you know,
    like on a piece of paper!
    You are a wonderful writer, and I THRIVE on your quietly subversive pieces!

  • I love Ken Burns work. May I suggest a made-for -Tv movie based on an Elizabeth Taylor’s (author not actress) novel, “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont”, on epix via Roku. Absolutely wonderful. I would give it 5 balls of yarn on a scale of 1-5. Perfect for dank fall afternoons when I’m sick and need something to knit to.

  • That doc sounds great. I’ve been watching the fictional series Deadwood (in prep to see the movie) which makes me want to learn more about. It really was a crazy, hard, murderous time and place. Quite amazing what they went through.

  • I think that 1996 was one of the periods that I was TV-less, and so I did not see The West at the time. It sounds as if it is high time to rectify this omission! Thanks for the heads up. One thing: I think that you are not the only one to reference Roger Ebert’s writing after his death in 2013, but it’s something I always find it startling. The interesting 2016 article you linked to is on the site, but was actually written by Christina Newland.

    • Many thanks, Laura, for the heads up that Roger Ebert did not rise from the dead to write that piece!

    • Thanks for clarifying–I was wondering about Roger and hoping maybe he wasn’t dead after all.

  • I hesitate to watch Ken Burn’s works because he is so good at instilling guilt, embarrassment and at the same time, moral superiority in us over the actions of our ancestors. I note you edited out the word “mooching” from your original thoughts. It may be that those good people who paid with their lives in Europe to prevent the success of another genocidal moocher are better examples of the generous and caring spirit we see daily in our country.

    Footnote: the Country Music series is super!

    • Hi Treena!

      Wait! I didn’t edit out “mooching”–it’s still there. I stand by the idea that the American land rush of the 19th century was a pretty gruesome greedfest, born maybe of desperation and hope by some but more often by speculators and the government itself who saw no problem with taking land from people who had been promised it, then selling it to others. If that isn’t mooching, I don’t know what is.

      And really, guilt and embarrassment are not a bad place to start when assessing our country’s history. I don’t feel moral superiority at all–the legacy of our history is a terrible thing. The West showed me a lot of things I had no idea had happened, so at least Ken Burns is telling stories that haven’t been told by previous historians.

  • I appreciate ALL of your recommendations !