The War (2007)
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A Necessary War: December 1941 - December 1942 

This series profiles World War II as seen primarily through the eyes of people living in just four U.S. Cities. This episode details an antebellum period before the attack on Pearl Harbor, ... See full summary »


Ken Burns (co-director), Lynn Novick (co-director)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Keith David ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Glenn D. Frazier Glenn D. Frazier ... Himself - Infantry
Sam Hynes Sam Hynes ... Himself - Marine Pilot
Jim Sherman Jim Sherman ... Himself - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota
Quentin Aanenson Quentin Aanenson ... Himself - Resident of Luverne, Minnesota
Earl Burke Earl Burke ... Himself - Resident of Sacramento, California
Burnett Miller Burnett Miller ... Himself - Resident of Sacramento, California
Susumu Satow Susumu Satow ... Himself - Resident of Sacramento, California
Ray Leopold Ray Leopold ... Himself - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut
Olga Ciarlo Olga Ciarlo ... Herself - Resident of Waterbury, Connecticut
John Gray John Gray ... Himself - Resident of Mobile, Alabama
Katharine Phillips Katharine Phillips ... Herself - Resident of Mobile, Alabama
Daniel Inouye ... Himself - Resident of Hawaii
Sidney Phillips Sidney Phillips ... Himself - Resident of Mobile, Alabama
Barbara Covington Barbara Covington ... Herself - Resident of Sacramento, California


This series profiles World War II as seen primarily through the eyes of people living in just four U.S. Cities. This episode details an antebellum period before the attack on Pearl Harbor, that attack, the fall of the Phillipines, the Bataan Death March and the fighting at Guadalcanal. Written by Havan Ironoak

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Release Date:

23 September 2007 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, WETA See more »
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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance - Keith David. See more »


In describing the Battle of Midway, Midway is described as being the "westernmost Japanese occupied island in the Pacific." In fact, Midway was always a US possession and was never held by the Japanese (one of the main purposes of the battle from the Japanese point of view was to capture the island) and even if it was, it would have been the eastern, not the western-most of their possessions. See more »


SAMUEL HYNES: I don't think there is such thing as a good war. there are sometimes necessary wars and I think one might say just wars. I never questioned the necessity of that war and I still do not question that it was something to be done... I'm not sure I can speak about why human beings generally go to war. That is a pretty large category. I can only speak about why 18 years old of Minneapolis go to war. They did go to war, just because it's impossible not to. Because a current is established in the ...
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References Holiday Inn (1942) See more »


Passacaglia - The Death of Falstaff from 'Henry V'
by William Walton
See more »

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User Reviews

In A Word: Shocking
18 October 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Some of these scenes in the two-and-a-quarter hour opening segment were just horrifying. I couldn't believe it. I'm not a World War II "buff" so there are probably many photos I haven't seen, but I've seen my share. However, there is film footage and stills that are new and unbelievable horribly and shocking in here. I am not alone: millions of others have never seen these, either. I talked to my 89-year-old dad, who IS somewhat of an expert on this war, and he said there were pictures he's never seen either. Apparently, this is not going to be an easy series to watch, for veteran or newcomer, buff or novice.

However, as in typical Ken Burns fashion, even with his politically-correct prejudices, this opening episode was very interesting and I look forward - albeit reluctantly in some cases - to seeing all of this.

The first real shock was the information about the "Bataan Death March," something I have heard about a number of times but didn't know details. I do now, thanks to one of the participants who is interviewed here: "Mr. Glenn Frazier." He must be an amazing man to survive that ordeal.

The other most memorable segment, at least to me, was the story of Guadalcanal. Once again, I never realized how brutal some of that fighting was over in the Pacific. You hear more about Hitler and Germany in the movies but the fighting against the Japanese on these Pacific Islands is unbelievable stuff......just horrendous conditions and a foe who was an expert in jungle warfare and one who was savage-like in torture and mutilation..

I was inspired by learning a bit about "Carlson's Raiders," too. What a fantastic leader was Carlson. I'll like to learn more about him.

This opening episode will leave you emotionally drained. There are some incredible stories and pictures.

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