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Kens Burns: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History


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PSA

 

Ken Burns's new documentary on the Roosevelts just finished on PBS.  I think they have encore presentations.

 

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!  Seven 2-hour parts.  Ken Burns was awesome as always.  Great way to brush up on or learn about this period of American History.

 

Personally, I knew quite a bit about FDR, but Teddy and Eleanor?  Amazing!

 

I encourage everyone to watch!   :hurray:

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All three of my kids watched parts.  The adult topics went over their heads since they just don't have any context for those topics, even my 9yo (and there were no visuals to clue them in--except for bombing scenes during WWI and WWII).  The kids saw parts when they got out of bed and joined us for maybe 30min at a time.

 

But DH and I watched the shows for us, after putting kids to bed.  At some point I'll use these with the kids, but this viewing was just for us this time.   :)  I didn't want any interruptions.   :)

 

This documentary gave so many insights for how our political system and government drastically evolved during this period.  All I knew of TR was that he was a Rough Rider (a vague school memory).  I was fascinated with how much he changed and contributed to government and the presidency.  And I'm still trying to process ER's entire life.  I feel so very sad for her and am in awe of her...    I can't even articulate it yet.  Not to mention understanding so much more about how political party ideals evolved.  It was fascinating how TR and FDR had so many of the same ideals and approaches to the presidency and yet were in different parties, etc.   In fact, we were so wrapped up in the show and information that I cried when TR died.  DH laughed at me, but he was misty-eyed, also.  And I am still so indignant on ER's behalf for how she was treated by everyone form her birth to FDR's death.   Aghhhh!  So much information to process. :)

 

 

 

ETA:  DH introduced me to Ken Burns documentaries last summer.  DH had watched his American Baseball doc several times.  I was listening to it in the background and found myself completely rapt.  Then, we watched the Dust Bowl documentary.  WOW!  I did not know that the Dust Bowl was a man-made phenomenon, and my heart just ached for the folks that endured.  And I spent the rest of the summer telling everyone I knew about it.  :)  

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I loved the whole thing too! I asked my hubby if it was weird that I loved it so much. When TR got shot but continued his speech-I fell in love! And FDR-not sure what to think of him. And Eleanor-it was so hard to see how poorly she was treated.

 

And I loved seeing how America & politics changed during the time.

 

I would like to read a TR biography. And I want to watch the series again. Actually I would like to watch all of ken burns documentaries.

 

I heart PBS.

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I thought the documentary made clear that most of the programs were inefficient, that it was Ww2 that brought us out of the Depression....

 

I didn't actually see the documentary myself, so I have no opinion on whether it did or didn't.  But the article I posted caught my attention because my mom (who's almost 89) watched it and RAVED about it.  She is a *huge* FDR fan. Some of the phrases referenced in that article are exact quotes that I've heard my mother say over and over again through the years.  It made me wonder how many people like my mom have just believed and repeated the mantra told through the media all these years (as the article suggests)... that it was, in fact, FDR and his policies that "saved" the country.  Since many here seem to agree with my mom about how great the documentary was, and the article I posted confirms that, I would be led to believe that the documentary did NOT make it clear that it was W2W that brought us out of the Depression.  (Because my mom would not agree with that statement.)

 

Any thoughts from others on that point?  Did the documentary in fact attribute the war to America's "salvation" from the Depression?

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I didn't actually see the documentary myself, so I have no opinion on whether it did or didn't. But the article I posted caught my attention because my mom (who's almost 89) watched it and RAVED about it. She is a *huge* FDR fan. Some of the phrases referenced in that article are exact quotes that I've heard my mother say over and over again through the years. It made me wonder how many people like my mom have just believed and repeated the mantra told through the media all these years (as the article suggests)... that it was, in fact, FDR and his policies that "saved" the country. Since many here seem to agree with my mom about how great the documentary was, and the article I posted confirms that, I would be led to believe that the documentary did NOT make it clear that it was W2W that brought us out of the Depression. (Because my mom would not agree with that statement.)

 

Any thoughts from others on that point? Did the documentary in fact attribute the war to America's "salvation" from the Depression?

I agree with pp. I felt like it made it clear that it was the war that brought the country out of the Great Depression. If I remember clearly it stated that with FDRs programs 2 million went back to work while 10 million remained unemployed. Many of his programs were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And then later in the documentary it went into quite a bit of detail about how war 'solved' the unemployment problem-but I can't recall the numbers. I don't remember it being said that FDR 'saved' the country from the Depression.

 

The documentary did go into detail about why the American public loved FDR. He had a way of reassuring the masses. They trusted him. They loved him. There was an interesting story about his influence on the public that left my husband & I...incredulous. He led the country through Depression & into WW2 and he died in office. I think all of that led to him being put up on a pedestal by so many.

 

My father in law is extremely politically conservative & he liked the documentary. He thought it was liberal leaning but I didn't feel that way. He felt it left out the long term consequences of FDRs policies. But I just think that wasn't the point of the series. Just my opinion.

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DonnaA....I did watch the show, and it did make the point explicit, hence my statement made above. Statistics were given, and a voiceover pointed out that FDR had to embrace the "capitalists"...who were in fact very good at turning out all of the planes and other war equipment necessary to get us prepared for us.  Those companies hired vast amounts of workers, etc. etc.

 

It drives me a wee bit nuts that someone would comment on a show having not watched it.  One could point out that oftentimes the media spins stories....and I would argue that the article you posted does just that....

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[...]If I remember clearly it stated that with FDRs programs 2 million went back to work while 10 million remained unemployed. Many of his programs were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And then later in the documentary it went into quite a bit of detail about how war 'solved' the unemployment problem-but I can't recall the numbers. I don't remember it being said that FDR 'saved' the country from the Depression.

 

The documentary did go into detail about why the American public loved FDR. He had a way of reassuring the masses. They trusted him. They loved him. There was an interesting story about his influence on the public that left my husband & I...incredulous. He led the country through Depression & into WW2 and he died in office. I think all of that led to him being put up on a pedestal by so many.

 

My father in law is extremely politically conservative & he liked the documentary. He thought it was liberal leaning but I didn't feel that way. He felt it left out the long term consequences of FDRs policies. But I just think that wasn't the point of the series. Just my opinion.

 

 

DH and I completely agree with this.  We didn't feel it leaned in one way or the other.  IMO, this is what Burns does best, presents facts in a story-like manner based on primary resources.  I inferred from the documentary that FDR's programs didn't bring the country out of the Great Depression but significantly impacted the way many, many Americans perceived the government, and that effect (perception, government's relationship with the individual) was long lasting.  I, also, inferred that the mass production of WWII was what ultimately ended the Great Depression. I concede that I only watched the 14 hour documentary once  ;), but I do not recollect Burns making direct commentary on what specifically ended the Great Depression.  In fact, there was commentary on FDR being politically astute, thereby, allowing him to find a way to help in WWII without turning off the Americans who were still primarily isolationists (left over from WWI). I inferred that Lend/Lease, etc for FDR was more about participating in WWII than ending the Great Depression.  I gathered that TR and FDR were VERY staunch believers in government (especially the presidency) powers being expanded beyond those explicitly outlined in the Constitution.  And if that expansion helped the common man, then all the better.  I gathered that it was really Eleanor that maintained that the individual should be taken care of by the government; her beliefs not motivated by power, but humanitarian efforts.

 

That was our take on it.  But interestingly, DH's dad (age 4-6 when FDR died) was appalled at Edward Herrmann's (who I LOVE) performance.  He said it sounded nothing like FDR.   :)  DH said that the portrait of FDR, shown many times in the doc, used to hang on his grandparents' wall in their living room until they died.  DH's parents said that "everyone" had a picture of FDR hanging in their home for many years after his death.  DH remembers his grandmother speaking so fondly of FDR as if she personally knew him.  The thousands and thousand of letters written to FDR--DH grandmother's letter is among them.   :)  DH didn't know if she received a response.  But I was astounded by the sheer volume of letters that were written and answered!  The numbers were insane!

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It's interesting that this author was so offended by Burns.  I really did not come to the same conclusion at all.  And I am a fairly hard core Republican regarding social programs, taxes, and my money.   :)

 

DH and I were just debating whether anyone can truly present history unbiased without just listing statistics (and even then I maintain you can slant the math).  I thought Burns did a great job just presenting facts.  Clearly, this author disagrees.  And my FIL disagrees.  And some fellow WTMers disagree while others agree.  Interesting food for thought...

 

 

ETA:  Or rather, maybe history can be presented without bias, but cannot be received without bias?  Example: My 9yo caught a little of a program on the pharaohs of Kush.  The commentator was speaking about Egyptians, and later British archaeologists, racially profiling (against the people/rulers of Kush) when retelling history.  My 9yo asked what racial profiling was.  I gave a very brief answer at 10pm last night.  I told her that at the core it meant making up your mind about someone based on where that person was from, color of skin, etc, instead of judging the individual.  Probably not the best definition, but for purposes of that discussion at that moment, there it was.  My 9yo nonchalantly quips that she didn't think, in the Egyptians case, they were against Kush because they were black Africans, but because they were human.  The Egyptians just wanted what others had to gain power and wealth.  All that to say, she listened to the statements made on TV, then formed her own opinion based on her experience (obviously very limited context).  The presenters came to a different conclusion.  I came to a different conclusion from those two.  :)  Anyhow, just had some time for a change and thought I would add these thoughts, too.

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But she was commenting on the fact that her mother had watched it, which is quite reasonable. However, it appears that maybe her mom heard mostly what she already believed before watching the show, which is something that we are all apt to do at times.

 

Yes, exactly.  I was not "commenting on a show having not watched it".  I shared another opinion (not mine... I thought I made that clear up above) and asked for follow up on that, with my mother's opinions and comments in mind.  I was curious about what the documentary actually did say.... or not. 

 

(I think you may be right, Space station... my mom heard what she already believed.)

 

Thank you, Aggie, for the additional insight.  I think I'll look around for the DVD and watch it with my daughter who did research on some of FDR's policies and the Depression for her college history class. 

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I loved the whole thing too! I asked my hubby if it was weird that I loved it so much. When TR got shot but continued his speech-I fell in love! And FDR-not sure what to think of him. And Eleanor-it was so hard to see how poorly she was treated.

 

And I loved seeing how America & politics changed during the time.

 

I would like to read a TR biography. And I want to watch the series again. Actually I would like to watch all of ken burns documentaries.

 

I heart PBS.

 

My favorite TR biography is 'Mornings on Horseback' http://www.amazon.com/Mornings-Horseback-Extraordinary-Vanished-Roosevelt/dp/0671447548/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412302156&sr=1-1&keywords=mornings+on+horseback

 

(He's the one who wrote the great John Adams bio that HBO turned into a great miniseries.) There's also a mini series the boys and I watched called 'The Rough Riders' about TR - http://www.amazon.com/Rough-Riders-Tom-Berenger/dp/B000EOTUSA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412302319&sr=8-2&keywords=The+rough+riders

 

I think anything Ken Burns does is great. I loved this miniseries too. I never understood why FDR was almost revered by my elders before watching it. I thought it was a pretty fairly balanced look at him and I felt awful for Eleanor - the way he treated her in this marriage - but greatly respected how she rose above it to be her own person and accomplish her own goals. 

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DonnaA....I did watch the show, and it did make the point explicit, hence my statement made above. Statistics were given, and a voiceover pointed out that FDR had to embrace the "capitalists"...who were in fact very good at turning out all of the planes and other war equipment necessary to get us prepared for us.  Those companies hired vast amounts of workers, etc. etc.

 

It drives me a wee bit nuts that someone would comment on a show having not watched it.  One could point out that oftentimes the media spins stories....and I would argue that the article you posted does just that....

 

Exactly and WW2 was the greatest government stimulus program to date. 

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  • 1 year later...

I loved the whole thing too! I asked my hubby if it was weird that I loved it so much. When TR got shot but continued his speech-I fell in love! And FDR-not sure what to think of him. And Eleanor-it was so hard to see how poorly she was treated.

 

And I loved seeing how America & politics changed during the time.

 

I would like to read a TR biography. And I want to watch the series again. Actually I would like to watch all of ken burns documentaries.

 

I heart PBS.

I think both Eleanor and FDR both had issues with their mothers.  She most likely realized them while he didn't.  I really do think him going to that school crushed him.  How do you go from a free loving family, educational environment to harsh treatment disguised as character building.  Wow!  I have heard stories of such schools still being in existence in the U. S.  His mother also never really let him go. I wonder if that and the generational home aspect of their family in that dynamic hurt his and Eleanor's relationship.

 

Eleanor's mother well.  That just ticked me off.  To disparage a child, because she doesn't have so-called classically beautiful looks.  It's sad that her father died while she was young.  I loved how she noted how her father treated her as a child.

 

I have so much respect for Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eleanor, and I suspect FDR suffered from Depression.  There are presidents who suffered from depression.  Can you imagine being a leader and suffering with depression.  http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/84292/150467/7-depression/

Edited by happybeachbum
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All three of my kids watched parts.  The adult topics went over their heads since they just don't have any context for those topics, even my 9yo (and there were no visuals to clue them in--except for bombing scenes during WWI and WWII).  The kids saw parts when they got out of bed and joined us for maybe 30min at a time.

 

But DH and I watched the shows for us, after putting kids to bed.  At some point I'll use these with the kids, but this viewing was just for us this time.   :)  I didn't want any interruptions.   :)

 

This documentary gave so many insights for how our political system and government drastically evolved during this period.  All I knew of TR was that he was a Rough Rider (a vague school memory).  I was fascinated with how much he changed and contributed to government and the presidency.  And I'm still trying to process ER's entire life.  I feel so very sad for her and am in awe of her...    I can't even articulate it yet.  Not to mention understanding so much more about how political party ideals evolved.  It was fascinating how TR and FDR had so many of the same ideals and approaches to the presidency and yet were in different parties, etc.   In fact, we were so wrapped up in the show and information that I cried when TR died.  DH laughed at me, but he was misty-eyed, also.  And I am still so indignant on ER's behalf for how she was treated by everyone form her birth to FDR's death.   Aghhhh!  So much information to process. :)

 

 

 

ETA:  DH introduced me to Ken Burns documentaries last summer.  DH had watched his American Baseball doc several times.  I was listening to it in the background and found myself completely rapt.  Then, we watched the Dust Bowl documentary.  WOW!  I did not know that the Dust Bowl was a man-made phenomenon, and my heart just ached for the folks that endured.  And I spent the rest of the summer telling everyone I knew about it.   :)

I know the whole Republican or Democrat bosses was a bit scary.  Almost like a crime syndicate or something.

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