Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A More Perfect Union

Mr. Edwin C. Bearss, a nationally recognized expert on the Civil War, spoke on March 6, 2011, at the first in a library-sponsored series of programs commemorating the war’s sesquicentennial.

The library's community room was filled nearly to capacity with folks eager to hear Mr. Bearss’ reflections on Ken Burns’ documentary film series The Civil War which first aired on PBS in 1990 and which featured expert commentary by Mr. Bearss and other scholars.

This and upcoming programs relate to the library’s We the People collection, donated by the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association. Burns' DVD series, The Civil War, is a part of the new collection.

The 2010-2011 collection of 19 books follows the theme “A More Perfect Union” and includes fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults. One of these is The Civil War: An Illustrated History by Geoffrey Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns, companion book to the film series and full of period photographs and reference material.

In the course of his very interesting talk, Mr. Bearss made two observations which resonated with me. First, he lamented the fact that history is of so little interest to a large segment of the American public, while simultaneously praising the Burns series for drawing a huge audience (he called Burns an “artiste” for the skill with which he wove together the photography, first-person accounts, music and other elements to entrance viewers) and igniting a renewed popular interest in the Civil War. Second, he noted that factual history and actual men and women from the past are often more compelling and fascinating than fictional stories and characters. Being a lover of history, I would agree.

One of my goals this year is to read (or reread) as many of the We the People titles as possible. I prepared for Mr. Bearss’ talk by watching the entire Burns series again, and I’m in the midst of reading the companion book mentioned above. The Bealeton Book Club read Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Beals in December, and I’ll be reading other titles in the near future — yes, even the children’s picture books!

See all the titles in this and previous years’ We the People collections.

Beth @ Bealeton

No comments:

Post a Comment