Ken Burns

Episode 1: Prologue

Oliver Wendell Holmes – We have shared the incommunicable experiences of war.  We have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.  In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire. 

Narrator – By the summer of 1861, Wilmer McLean had had enough.  Two great armies were converging on his farm, in what would be the first major battle of the Civil War – Bull Run or Manassas as the Confederates called it – would soon rage across the aging Virginians farm, a Union shell going so far as to explode in the summer kitchen.  Now, Mclean had moved his family away from Manassas and south and west of Richmond – out of harm’s way, he prayed, to a dusty crossroads called Appomattox Court House.  And it was there in his living room three and a half years later that Lee surrendered to Grant, and Wilmer McLean could rightfully say, "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor."

A friend and fellow historian recently sent me the entire Ken Burns Civil War transcript.  Huh….what should I do with it?

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7 comments… add one
  • Jamie Winetrobe Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:07

    My colleague and I teach the civil war to juniors in a private high school. We would LOVE to have a transcript of Ken Burns Civil War–all of it.

    Thank you.

    Jamie Winetrobe

    • Kevin Levin Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:21

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I am not able to share the script owing to copyright restrictions.

  • Kevin Levin Nov 8, 2007 @ 10:22

    At this point I am going to have to say no. I am at the very early stages of a book project with another historian that involves the editing of the entire manuscript. We still need to get permission to publish. I would rather not be responsible for distributing this around for legal reasons.

  • hporter Nov 8, 2007 @ 6:08

    In that case, if at all possible, could it be emailed to me? My email address is

  • Kevin Levin Nov 7, 2007 @ 12:21

    Unfortunately, there are copyright issues.

  • hporter Nov 7, 2007 @ 12:11

    Would it be possible to post the transcript on the internet? I am a big fan of the film and would like to read it!

  • Brooks Simpson Jun 6, 2006 @ 14:10

    What amuses me about the Holmes comment is that in 1864 … he went home.

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