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A Century-Old Debate Resonates Profoundly Today in PBS’s ‘The Great War’


American Experience’s 

latest documentary series,

The Great War

, draws on the latest scholarship to tell tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.” 

Though the subject matter of the three-part series is 100 years old, many of the central issues resonate deeply with the political climate today. “

Today when we try to wrestle with our role in the world, there is this tension between, ‘Are we the world’s policeman or are we the nation builders of the world? Or are some of these conflicts not really our concern?’ This was at the center of the debate in World War I,” executive producer Mark Samels tells


“What was fortunate for us, was the war coincided with the dawn of motion pictures. It was the first war to be recorded by film cameras,” he adds of the 2700 reels of archival footage that were used to make the final film.

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