Noted documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, is on C-SPAN's Book TV talking about The National Parks: America's Best Idea, with best friend and collaborator, Dayton Duncan, discussing the new documentary.
On how he and Duncan came to take on this project, which took 10 years to complete:
It's right in our wheelhouse, and I want to stress "our." In the formal sense, [writer and longtime collaborator Duncan] came to me 10 years ago and said, "Let's do the national parks," and it took me a nanosecond to say, "Of course." About that same time, 10 years ago, we were in the middle of producing our film together on Mark Twain, and we were talking to the novelist Russell Banks about Huckleberry Finn. Banks was saying—and we certainly agreed ourselves—that this was Twain's greatest work. And then he said, "It's our Illiad and our Odyssey." He went on, "Though most of us share a common European ancestry with those who wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey, we Americans were grappling with two new themes that Twain alone, among writers—but also among politicians and philosophers and artists of the 19th century—was willing to deal with honestly and openly. And those twin themes were race and space." Those are all I've been focused on for the last 30-plus years.
The six part series begins today on local PBS stations and will continue for five additional nights. Don't miss it!