October 01, 2007 12:00 PM

PBS, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET |


Ken Burns, director of The Civil War, devotes 15 hours (across seven episodes) to Americans at home and at battle in World War II. The effect, frankly, can be less living history than living textbook: The pace has a dignified, creeping sameness, and I didn’t need to hear Tom Hanks reading the editorials of a Minnesota newspaperman in a tone to match. But Burns has a superb ear for voices and stories, and the interweaving of interviews with soldiers and their loved ones tightens until it overwhelms. This is an elegiac tribute, and leaves you quietly shaken by the magnitude of the war effort and the stoic acceptance of suffering for the sake of country.

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