Ken Burns documentaries: how to watch filmmaker’s history shows including Vietnam and The US and the Holocaust

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Documentarian Ken Burns’ latest Second World War documentary, The US and The Holocaust, has been released in the UK

Ken Burns, 69, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on American history. Over his career he has produced the definitive series on the American Civil War, First and Second World Wars, and Vietnam War, as well as projects exploring American musical movements.

His latest series, The US and the Holocaust, has landed in the UK this week. This is how you can watch Ken Burns’ other documentaries from across his career:

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American filmmaker Ken BurnsAmerican filmmaker Ken Burns
American filmmaker Ken Burns | Getty Images

Where can you watch Ken Burns’ documentaries in the UK?

The US and the Holocaust

Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The US and the Holocaust aired in the US on PBS in September last year but is now available to watch in the UK. The three-part series follows the US’ response to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany from the country’s initial resistance to immigration to the establishment of channels to allow refugees to enter the country as the horrors of the Holocaust are gradually brought to light. The series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now - episodes will also begin airing on BBC Four on Monday 9 January at 10pm. Episodes are two hours long and will be released at the same time weekly.

The American Civil War

The sprawling 1990 series nine-part series follows the bloody American Civil War from its roots in the 1830s to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a week after the conflict came to an end. The series features Morgan Freeman as Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Sam Waterston as President Lincoln. The series is free to watch on Amazon Prime with a seven-day PBS America free trial. Alternatively, individual episodes are available to purchase in standard definition on Prime for £1.89.

Jazz

This 2001 10-part series charts the history of jazz music from late 19th century New Orleans right up to the present day. Burns looks at the lives of pioneering jazz musicians including  Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Sarah Vaughan. The full series is available to watch now on Apple TV+.

Prohibition

Burns’ three-part 2011 series explores how prohibition on alcohol took hold in the United States, how the project was doomed to failure and the catastrophic effect it had on establishing organised crime in the country. The series is also available to watch on Prime with a PBS free trial. Individual episodes are not available to rent or buy on the platform.

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Ken Burns attends an event to promote his series The Vietnam WarKen Burns attends an event to promote his series The Vietnam War
Ken Burns attends an event to promote his series The Vietnam War | Getty Images

The Vietnam War

One of Ken Burns’ most well-known documentaries, the 10-part 2017 series follows the brutal war between American and the forces of North Vietnam in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Burns explores how the conflict came about in the wake of the collapse of French colonial rule in the country, and how the war became a quagmire that successive American presidents had to grapple with. The full series is available to watch on Prime with a PBS free trial - or you can buy it on Prime from £1.99 per episode or £19.90 for the full season.

Country Music

The eight-part 2019 series charts the history of the American musical movement with a focus on major country figures such as Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Dolly Parton. The series follows country music’s path from the 1930s up to the ‘90s. Country Music is available to watch on Prime with a PBS free trial and episodes are available to buy. Episodes 5-9 are currently available on BBC iPlayer now, but they will leave the platform this month.

Muhammad Ali

The 2021 eight-part series is a portrait of the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The series follows his rise from an unknown athlete to becoming the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, and a major figure in the anti-war movement. The full series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for two months.

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