Best American Civil War Documentary

June 30, 2012
The Ashokan Reservoir in the

Rory-Kennedy-HeadshotThis 9 episode epic chronicles the U.S. Civil War which took place from 1861-1865. Extremely well crafted, it includes an original theme ‘Ashokan Farewell’ that will haunt you long after the final chapter. It includes narration by some of the finest actors and academics of the last half century including Sam Waterston, Arthur Miller, and Shelby Foote. This documentary also featured on our previous list: Top 10 Greatest TV Documentary Series.


The Trials of Darryl Hunt

Directed by Annie Sundberg

Darryl Hunt is a man from Winston-Salem, N.C. who was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of a young white woman in 1984. A shocking indictment of the criminal justice system in the U.S., the film shows how a lack of physical evidence, faulty eyewitness testimony, and racism can overcome the search for actual truth. Did I mention he was falsely convicted…twice!



Directed by Michael Moore

Yes, it is more propaganda by possibly the most polarizing fimmaker since Leni Riefenstahl, but Sicko hits all the right notes. Focusing on the state of the U.S. healthcare system, the film interviews former insurance claim agents, victims of insurance company negligence, and foreign healthcare workers. In the most inspired moment Mr. Moore takes uninsured Americans to Guantanamo Bay where they are refused entry, then to Cuba where they are helped free of charge.


24188Lake of Fire

Directed by Tony Kaye

Tony Kaye’s first film since the unrelenting American History X, Lake of Fire is a 2 1/2 hour pontification on the abortion issue in America. Interviewees include noted anarchist Noam Chomsky and lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Extremely unsettling in its portrayal of the two sides of this issue, it leads one to believe that there is no middle ground.


Paradise Lost

Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Full titled: “Paradise Lost (The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills)”, Paradise Lost recounts the trials of 3 teenage boys for multiple counts of murder in Arkansas. In hoping that my less is more approach will encourage readers to watch these films, I will keep spoilers minimal as there are many twists and turns. But let it be said, a bloody knife as a gift is not normal, even in Arkansas (kidding).


No End in Sight

Directed by Charles Ferguson

Virtually the antithesis to the other noted Iraqi war documentary Farenheit 911, No End in Sight takes a more evenhanded approach at American involvement in Iraq. Legitimacy is added by the fact that many of the interviewees are former George Bush Jr. staff members who reveal the crucial initial mistakes that they and others had made. This caused what many thought would be a quick and clean military exercise into an eight years and counting war. Heartbreaking in its candor.


The Staircase

Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

The Staircase is an eight part documentary series that began filming initially with the indictment of its protagonist Michael Peterson. He was an author living in North Carolina when his wife died of injuries related to a fall down a flight of stairs at the home. Honestly, not even the best scriptwriter could come up with the revelations that followed in the police investigation and eventual trial. If you like true crime dramas watch this film.

The 50 Best Documentaries - Civil War Documentary on
The 50 Best Documentaries - Civil War Documentary on ...
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