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Vibbs' Top 5 Ken Burns Documentaries

This weekend is all about celebrating the backbone of America, the labor workforce. From coal miners to carnival tilt-o-whirl operators, working Americans still make up the greatest country in the world. I know it's the greatest country in the world because over the years the documentary G.O.A.T., Ken Burns, has told me through cut and dry 18 hour epic masterpieces. Ken Burns always delivers with his weird pumpkin haircut and his swooping image style. All of Ken Burns' docs are phenomenal and leave you with a proud feeling of being American, but these are the 5 that left the biggest impression on me …

5. National Parks (2009)

Nature is fucking cool. No other way to put it. This documentary took the #5 spot because while it has interesting history facts Ken Burns docs are known for, this has more of a National Geographic / Planet Earth feel than his other docs with astonishing shots of different National Parks. There is also something romantic about The Father of National Parks, John Muir, wondering out and living off the land, alone, for months at a time. Throw in some Teddy Roosevelt being an alpha male in the untamable wilderness for good measure, and you've got yourself a great doc.

4. Prohibition (2011)

How long was prohibition? Hand up, before starting Twisted History, I would have guessed America's ban on alcohol lasted about 4 years before law makers realized what a massive mistake they made. Prohibition started in 1920 and last 13 years. Basic stuff, but this documentary goes into extraordinary detail about a "Dry" roarin' twenties you never learned about in school. There are better topics that Ken Burns covers, but this doc gives all detail you need on an era where all you learned about are flapper girls and the stock market crash.

3. Lewis & Clark (1997)

Lewis and Clark traveling thousands of miles to explore the Pacific Northwest and Louisiana Purchase in 1804 is that era's equivalent of going to the moon. Much like space, one bad decision in the hostile environment could mean instant death for you and your crew. Lewis and Clark made a two year journey and only lost a single person to appendicitis. The only time the expedition was hostile with Native American's was when Lewis went "John Wick" on everyone after his dog was stolen. You don't fuck with a man's dog, especially one that saved his owner from drowning. This is a doc you watch and will want to get a good USA chant going, or at least moan a few verses of the pledge of allegiance. 

2. Vietnam (2017)

I for sure thought this doc would make #1 on my list, but it managed to fall to #2. I contribute that to the fact this is by far the heaviest of all the Ken Burns documentaries. First-hand accounts from brave men who fought in the jungles of Vietnam that will have you pausing the tv to collect yourself. That being said, it's a depressing doc that makes you realize what  soldiers and families had to give up for the cluster fuck that was the Vietnam war. A lengthy documentary, but worth every second. 


1. Baseball (1994) 

Someone who knows nothing about baseball could watch this doc and instantly become a baseball fan (apologies Tiko Texas.) Baseball is the best live, and up there as the worst sport to watch on television, so I was skeptical of an 18 hour doc about the complete history of the sport. BUT, holy shit, Ol' Kenny Burns went and out did himself. You leave this documentary with a deep appreciation of the famers and plumbers that played the game before 1970, and you'll be itching to start keeping your own score card during your next trip to the diamond. 

Ken Burns docs are long and take forever to watch, here are my top 5 favorite feature length documentaries that I ranked in a blog … 

and for more information on some of the most twisted and fucked up parts of history, you should listen to Large and I on the Twisted History Podcast.