The Good Kind of TV – Guest Post by Mark Spalding

Our recent trip to Gettysburg has rekindled my passion for all things Civil War. If you’ve never been interested or known exactly where to start to get some good, general knowledge on what it was all about, look no further than Ken Burns’ Civil War series that aired in 1990 on PBS. I saw this series when I was 13 and it kicked off a lifetime passion for all things Civil War which has turned into a passion for all things historical. It’s an amazing tour de force documentary that encompasses as many angles as possible regarding the people, places and events that surrounded the five most bloody years in America’s history. The truly wonderful part of it is the narration, which is done by such luminaries as Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne and many others. The music is at times haunting and heartfelt. I to this day have an emotional reaction when I hear the violin solo that has become the theme for this series (Ashokan Farewell).

Right now you can see the entire 11 hour series on netflix or you can see if your local library has it to check out.

And with the coming 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, there’s no time like the present to dig in deep and really get into the spirit by watching Gettysburg. This movie encompasses the three most horrific days of the war and really gives you a sense of what the men who were involved were thinking and feeling at the time. Based off of Jeff Sharra’s novel “The Killer Angels” it takes an equal look at both sides and how they handled or mishandled the war. While the language can get pretty flowery at times (long soliloquies that I have a feeling weren’t a part of normal conversation) it adds a humaneness to the story that would otherwise be one battle after another.

Currently there is no easy way to view this one online, but again, your local library may have a copy or E-Bay or Amazon could be a possibility for a used copy.

If you’re concerned about how safe it is for children to watch, the images in the Civil War series do show men dead on the battlefield, but nothing too gruesome from what I have seen in re-watching it. Gettysburg has many battles with many men falling dead, but it was a made for tv movie in 1994 for TBS, so no blood.

There are many other options available to help you delve deeper into this most important part of our national heritage. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments and I can add some more.