Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past

From a Washington Post review by Douglas Brinkley of the book by historian Richard Cohen titled “Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past”:

When documentarian Ken Burns debuted “The Civil War” on PBS in 1990, columnist George F. Will declared the nine-part series a “masterpiece of national memory” in which “our Iliad has found its Homer.” That was high praise for a 37-year-old New Hampshire filmmaker fresh out of the used-record-store business, and it was a bit demoralizing to me, a young U.S. historian fresh out of my PhD studies at Georgetown. With Burns’s opus, my chosen profession had just pole-vaulted into the Golden Era of history film documentary, while I was still using library card catalogues and reading dead people’s mail. Book writing, I feared, would be condemned to play second fiddle to “Ashokan Farewell,” the haunting violin theme that packed such an emotional wallop in “The Civil War.”