Ken Burns' latest PBS series is The Dust Bowl, it chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation.
It can be said a confluence of challenges has led to a fraying of the social contract, as Americans seem to be losing faith in the ability of our systems of government to deal with even the most tractable problems.
However, history teaches that if the challenges we face today are to be resolved, we must find ways to reach consensus on the underlying causes of the problems and develop responses to them grounded in the best available information and in mutual trust and collaboration. This morning we welcome two distinguished guests who have been doing just that.
While President James Madison was a brilliant scholar, author of much of the country’s early documents, organizer of the executive branch of government, and astute politician, he was no commander-in-chief.
He relied totally upon appointed commodores and generals to conduct a war for the conquest of Canada on one hand and survival on the other. Often confused by advisors of little military talent, in the end he put his trust and that of the people in the grasp of hacks, sycophants, adventurers, and a few good men.
Once America's capitalist dream town, Detroit is one of our country's greatest urban failures, having fallen the longest and the farthest. But the city's worst crisis yet has managed to do the unthinkable: turn the end of days into something of a laboratory for the future. Urban planners, land speculators, and utopian environmentalists have been drawn to Detroit's decaying, nothing-left-to-lose frontier.
Harold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer serves as chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation.
Famed film critic, writer, and film historian Richard Schickel has written a retrospective of Spielberg’s career (Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective). We speak with him about the book and he shares his thoughts on the director’s latest film.
Film clip audio copyright DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox
In chilly weather, Lincoln often wore a dark wool shawl over his shoulders. Many years later Robert Todd Lincoln gave his father's shawl to a friend and it now in the American History collection at The Smithsonian (though not currently on display). In the new movie, Lincoln is seen often wearing a shawl.
In Lincoln: A President for the Ages, Lincoln scholars speculate on questions like: Would Lincoln have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima? How would he conduct the War on Terror? Would he favor women’s suffrage or gay rights? Would today’s Lincoln be a star on Facebook and Twitter? Would he embrace the religious right—or denounce it?