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Re: Creator of Civil War Documentary Series Calls Today ‘Most Fraught Time’ in U.S. History

The bronze statue of Chief Engineer Gouverneur K. Warren stands over the site of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., August 22, 2016. (Russell Boyce/Reuters)

Jack, I think you’re being too kind to Ken Burns. What he said wasn’t inaccurate, it was entirely ridiculous. It’s not merely that our current era doesn’t compare to the Civil War; it’s that it doesn’t compare to much else, either.

“This is the most fraught time, I think, in the history of our Republic”? No, it isn’t. It’s not as fraught as the 1790s, at which point it wasn’t clear that the new nation would survive. It’s not as fraught as 1814, in which year a foreign power burned down Washington D.C. It’s not as fraught as the angry 1850s. It’s not as fraught as Reconstruction, or its eventual failure. It’s not as fraught as the Wilson era, or World War one. It’s not as fraught as the Depression. It’s not as fraught as World War Two. It’s not as fraught as the 1960s, with Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement and a seemingly endless supply of domestic bombings. It’s not as fraught as the 1970s, either.

There are many things wrong in America, of course. But, in the broader context, this era barely registers on the scale. Ken Burns should know that.

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