The War: Season 1

The War: Season 1

The War: Season 1

Ken Burns' documentary series on the Second World War told through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns. The war touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America and demonstrated that in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives.

2008USAFlorentine Films, WETA

Streaming (2 Providers)


A Necessary War

December 1941 - December 1942: The tranquil lives of the citizens of Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Luverne, Minnesota are shattered on December 7, 1941, as they, along with the rest of America,... MORE are thrust into the greatest cataclysm in history.


When Things Get Tough

January 1943 - December 1943: Americans mobilize for total war at home and overseas. Factories hum around the clock, while in North Africa and then Italy, inexperienced GIs learn how to fight. Meanwhile, in the... MORE skies over Europe, thousands of American airmen gamble their lives against preposterous odds on daylight bombing missions.


A Deadly Calling

November 1943 - June 1944: Americans are shocked by terrible losses on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, while in Italy Allied forces are stalled for months at Monte Cassino, and a risky landing at Anzio... MORE fails utterly. At home, as overcrowded "war towns" boom, economic transformation leads to confrontation and ugly racial violence.


Pride of Our Nation / A Volunteer Basis

June 1944 - August 1944: On June 6, 1944, D-Day, 1.5 million Allied troops take part in the greatest invasion in history, but then bog down in the Norman hedgerows for weeks. Saipan proves the... MORE costliest Pacific battle to date, while back home dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at an inconceivable rate.



September 1944 - December 1944: Victory in Europe seems imminent, but in Holland, the Vosges Mountains, and the Hurtgen Forest, GIs learn painful lessons as old as war itself - that generals make plans, plans... MORE go wrong and soldiers die. Meanwhile, on the island of Peleliu, the Marines fight one of the most brutal and unnecessary battles of the Pacific.


The Ghost Front

December 1944 - March 1945: Americans are shocked by Hitler's massive counterattack in the Ardennes forest - but by mid-March, 1945, they are across the Rhine, while the Russians are 50 miles from Berlin. In... MORE the Pacific, after weeks of desperate fighting, Iwo Jima is secured, and American bombers begin a full-fledged air assault on Japan.


A World Without War

March 1945 - December 1945: A few weeks after the death of President Roosevelt shocks the country, Germany surrenders. Meanwhile, American sailors, soldiers and Marines endure the worst battle of the Pacific - Okinawa. In... MORE August, American planes drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese, too, surrender. Millions return home - to try to learn how to live in a world without war.

The War: Season 1 / Reviews



Burns' style is unwaveringly nationalistic, and his decision to explore America's role in WWII through the perspectives of vets and residents from four corners of the country creates a central problem that only grows deeper.

Full review


It's the nuanced, retrospective witness that makes the series so affecting...

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Even the relatively impervious among you will be made to sniffle and sob like children when you hear some of these veterans' stories.

Full review