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War, The 14x60



The War, a seven-part series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of a handful of people from four quintessentially American towns. The series explores the most intimate human dimensions of the greatest cataclysm in history: a worldwide catastrophe that touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in America and demonstrates that in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. Throughout the series, the indelible experience of combat is brought vividly to life as veterans describe what it was like to fight and kill and see men die at places like Monte Cassino and Anzio and Omaha Beach; the H’rtgen Forest and the Vosges Mountains and the Ardennes; and on the other side of the world at Guadalcanal and Tarawa and Saipan; Peleliu and the Philippine Sea and Okinawa. In all of the battle scenes, dramatic historical footage and photographs are combined with extraordinarily realistic sound effects to give the film a terrifying, visceral immediacy. The film honors the bravery, endurance, and sacrifice of the generation of Americans who lived through what will always be known simply as The War.

Episode 1: A Necessary War (1×60)
December 1941 — March 1942
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 thrusts the United States into the global cataclysm that will eventually touch every family on every street in every town in America. Within a few months, millions of young men have entered the armed forces and are beginning to train for war.

Episode 2: A Very Fearful Time (1×60)
March 1942 — December 1942
With U-Boats menacing the East Coast, and little good news from overseas, many worry that the United States is utterly unprepared to fight in a “total war.” But after six months of grueling combat on Guadalcanal, the Americans finally stop Japan’s expansion in the Pacific.

Episode 3: The Worst is Yet to Come (1×60)
January 1943 — June 1943
American troops land in North Africa and test themselves for the first time against the German and Italian armies, learning to set aside the notion that killing is a sin and adopting the more professional outlook that “killing is a craft”. Back home, cities become booming “war towns” overnight as nearly all manufacturing is converted to the war effort, and thousands of females become industrial workers.

Episode 4: When Things Get Tough (1×60)
July 1943 – December 1943
On daylight bombing missions American airmen gamble their lives against preposterous odds to bring the war to the heart of Hitler’s enormous domain. Allied forces invade Sicily and then Italy but as they grind their way towards Rome, the environment turns bad and the terrain grows more and more forbidding — twisting mountain roads, blown bridges — all under constant German fire.

Episode 5: A Helluva War (1×60)
November 1943 — February 1944
In November, the Marines take the tiny Pacific atoll of Tarawa, but at a terrible cost.  Back home, Japanese-Americans are permitted to form a special segregated infantry unit, and begin to train for combat. As the war economy booms, ugly racial violence erupts in cities across the country. Overseas, in the mountains south of Rome, the allies try to fight their way around the edges of Monte Cassino, but are stopped cold.

Episode 6: A Deadly Calling (1×60)
January 1944 — June 1944
American and British troops are pinned down at Anzio for months, while at Monte Cassino, the killing goes on and on. African Americans, incensed at the segregation of the armed forces, put pressure on the military to make some changes. In May, allied soldiers at Cassino and Anzio resume their drive northward in Italy, liberating Rome on June 4th.  But they let the retreating German army get away.

Episode 7: Pride of Our Nation (1×60)
June 6, 1944 — D Day
In the early morning hours of June 6th, 1944 — D Day — the invasion of France begins. A million and a half men take part. It is the bloodiest day in American history since the Civil War.  The Allies succeed in tearing a 45-mile gap in Hitler’s vaunted Atlantic Wall.  By day’s end more than 150,000 men have landed on French soil, and more men and more equipment and supplies are coming ashore every hour.

Episode 8: A Volunteer Basis (1×60)
June 1944 — August 1944
For most of the summer, American and British troops in Normandy are bogged down in the hedgerows, while in the Pacific, the Marines fight their costliest battle to date  — on the island of Saipan.  Back home, dreaded telegrams from the War Department begin arriving at a rate inconceivable just one year earlier. But by mid-August, the Germans are in full retreat out of France, and on August 25th, after four years of Nazi occupation, Paris is liberated.

Episode 9: FUBAR (1×60)
Autumn, 1944
In September of 1944, with their troops in Europe stalled on the German border, having outrun their supply lines, Allied commanders gamble on a risky plan to drop thousands of airborne troops behind enemy lines in Holland. But when the mission ends in disaster, it becomes painfully clear that the war in Europe will not end before winter.  In the Pacific, on the island of Peleliu, the Marines fight one of the most brutal, and unnecessary, campaigns of the War.

Episode 10: Life’s Accidents (1×60)
Autumn, 1944
In the late fall of 1944 American soldiers suffer terrible losses when they are ordered into the forbidding and fiercely defended terrain of the Hurtgen Forest and the Vosges Mountains.  In the Central Pacific, to the delight of audiences back home, General MacArthur returns to the island of Leyte.  But months of bloody fighting lie ahead before the Philippine Islands — and the people imprisoned on them — can be liberated.

Episode 11: The Ghost Front (1×60)
Winter 1944 – 1945
In Europe, the allies are totally unprepared for Hitler’s massive counterattack in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium and Luxemburg. It is the biggest battle of the War on the Western Front, fought during the coldest winter in memory. But by the time the Battle of the Bulge is over, Hitler’s enormous gamble has ended in disaster: and the Russians are getting closer to Berlin every day. Meanwhile, in the Santo Tomas Camp in the Philippines, thousands of internees are now starving, desperately trying to hold on to life long enough to be liberated.

Episode 12: Terrible Choices (1×60)
Winter- Spring 1945
In the Pacific, on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima, the Marines face 21,000 Japanese defenders who, without hope of reinforcement, have been ordered to kill as many Americans as possible before being killed themselves.  Once the island is taken, allied bombers set the cities of Japan ablaze, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions homeless.  Meanwhile, in Europe, hundreds of thousands of Americans are crossing the Rhine and driving into the heart of Germany, while the Russians are within 50 miles of Berlin.

Episode 13: A Long Tough Road (1×60)
Spring 1945
In the Pacific, Americans are fighting on the island of Okinawa, gateway to Japan, while kamikaze pilots wreak havoc on the fleet offshore. Meanwhile, in Europe, allied forces rapidly push across Germany from the East and West, and American and British troops discover the true horrors of the Nazi’s industrialized barbarism: at Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen and hundreds of other concentration camps. Finally, on May 8th, with their country in ruins and their Fuehrer dead by his own hand, the Germans surrender.

Episode 14: A World Without War (1×60)
May to December 1945
In June, the terrible battle on Okinawa ends — with Americans suffering their worse losses of the Pacific war;  92,000 Japanese soldiers, and tens of thousands of Okinawan civilians, have also been killed in the fighting. But for most of Japan’s rulers, despite the agony their people are enduring, unconditional surrender still remains unthinkable. Then, on August 6, 1945 an American plane drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Two days later, Russia declares war against Japan.  A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagazaki. Finally, Japan agrees to surrender.  In the following months, hundreds of thousands of American service members will come home, and try to learn how to live in a world without war.