Renowned Historian Ken Burns: The Conditions of the Country are as Bad as They Were Before the Civil War

Not too many people know more about American history than Ken Burns. He has produced legendary documentaries on jazz and baseball, two unique American inventions.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – JULY 29: Ken Burns of College Behind Bars speaks during the PBS segment of the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association Press Tour 2019 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

But Burns is, perhaps, most well known for his documentary on the Civil War. The opus, released in 1990, received countless awards and was watched by millions.

Burns recently appeared on the SmartLess podcast. And during the show, he explained to hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes the seriousness of the country’s current divide.

“It’s really serious,” he explained. “There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it.”

Burns ended the conversation with a famous 1838 quote from an Abraham Lincoln speech:

“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.”


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