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Ken Burns the War: "A Deadly Calling"

Ken Burns; Burns, Ken; Kanopy (Firm)
Format
Video; Streaming Video; Online
Summary
Episode Three “A Deadly Calling" November 1943-June 1944 In fall 1943, after almost two years of war, the American public is able to see for the first time the terrible toll the war is taking on its troops when Life publishes a photograph of the bodies of three GIs killed in action at Buna. Despite American victories in the Solomons and New Guinea, the Japanese empire still stretches 4,000 miles, and victory seems a long way off. In November, on the tiny Pacific atoll of Tarawa, the Marines set out to prove that any island, no matter how fiercely defended, can be taken by all-out frontal assault. Back home, the public is devastated by color newsreel footage of the furious battle, including the bodies of Marines floating in the surf, and grows more determined to do whatever is necessary to hasten the end of the war. Mobile, Sacramento and Waterbury have been transformed into booming, overcrowded “war towns,” and in Mobile — as in scores of other cities — that transformation leads to confrontation and ugly racial violence. African Americans, asked to fight a war for freedom while serving in the strictly segregated armed forces, demand equal rights, and the military reluctantly agrees to some changes. Blacks are allowed, for the first time in two centuries, to join the Marine Corps, and many, including John Gray and Willie Rushton of Mobile, sign on. They are trained for combat, but most are assigned to service jobs instead. Japanese-American men, originally designated as “enemy aliens,” are permitted to form a special segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In Hawaii and in the internment camps, thousands sign up, including Robert Kashiwagi, Susumu Satow and Tim Tokuno of Sacramento. They are sent to Mississippi for training, where they are promised they will be treated “as white men.” In Italy, Allied forces are stalled in the mountains south of Rome, unable to break through the German lines at Monte Cassino. In the mud, snow and bitter cold, the killing goes on all winter and spring as the enemy manages to fight off repeated Allied attacks. A risky landing at Anzio ends in utter failure, with the Germans gaining the high ground and thousands of Allied troops, including Babe Ciarlo of Waterbury, totally exposed to enemy fire and unable to advance for months. In May, Allied soldiers at Cassino and Anzio finally break through, and on June 4, they liberate Rome. But in heading towards the city, they fail to capture the retreating German army, which takes up new positions on the Adolf Hitler line north of Rome. Meanwhile, the greatest test for the Allies — the long-delayed invasion of France — is now just days away.
Director
Ken Burns
Release Date
2007
Language
English
Notes
Title from title frames.
Published
[San Francisco, California, USA] : Kanopy Streaming, 2015.
Recording Info
Originally produced by PBS in 2007.
Publisher no.
1137144 Kanopy
Related Resources
Cover Image
Description
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 41 minutes) : digital, .flv file, sound
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Technical Details
  • Staff View

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    a| Episode Three “A Deadly Calling" November 1943-June 1944 In fall 1943, after almost two years of war, the American public is able to see for the first time the terrible toll the war is taking on its troops when Life publishes a photograph of the bodies of three GIs killed in action at Buna. Despite American victories in the Solomons and New Guinea, the Japanese empire still stretches 4,000 miles, and victory seems a long way off. In November, on the tiny Pacific atoll of Tarawa, the Marines set out to prove that any island, no matter how fiercely defended, can be taken by all-out frontal assault. Back home, the public is devastated by color newsreel footage of the furious battle, including the bodies of Marines floating in the surf, and grows more determined to do whatever is necessary to hasten the end of the war. Mobile, Sacramento and Waterbury have been transformed into booming, overcrowded “war towns,” and in Mobile — as in scores of other cities — that transformation leads to confrontation and ugly racial violence. African Americans, asked to fight a war for freedom while serving in the strictly segregated armed forces, demand equal rights, and the military reluctantly agrees to some changes. Blacks are allowed, for the first time in two centuries, to join the Marine Corps, and many, including John Gray and Willie Rushton of Mobile, sign on. They are trained for combat, but most are assigned to service jobs instead. Japanese-American men, originally designated as “enemy aliens,” are permitted to form a special segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In Hawaii and in the internment camps, thousands sign up, including Robert Kashiwagi, Susumu Satow and Tim Tokuno of Sacramento. They are sent to Mississippi for training, where they are promised they will be treated “as white men.” In Italy, Allied forces are stalled in the mountains south of Rome, unable to break through the German lines at Monte Cassino. In the mud, snow and bitter cold, the killing goes on all winter and spring as the enemy manages to fight off repeated Allied attacks. A risky landing at Anzio ends in utter failure, with the Germans gaining the high ground and thousands of Allied troops, including Babe Ciarlo of Waterbury, totally exposed to enemy fire and unable to advance for months. In May, Allied soldiers at Cassino and Anzio finally break through, and on June 4, they liberate Rome. But in heading towards the city, they fail to capture the retreating German army, which takes up new positions on the Adolf Hitler line north of Rome. Meanwhile, the greatest test for the Allies — the long-delayed invasion of France — is now just days away.
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