H.S. History Teacher on Aftershock
B. S. Hobson | Virginia, USA | 09/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With societies, as with individuals, it is often much easier for us to examine the mistakes of others than it is to take an honest look at our own. In both cases, however, honest examination is essential to making genuine progress. Aftershock succeeds in providing us with details on a topic of which most Gone-With-the-Wind-watching Americans are unaware: the atrocious violence and frequent chaos that followed Lee's surrender.
Anyone who has actually studied slavery and the slave trade as they existed in America (as opposed to simply treating them as unavoidable footnotes in U.S. history) is well-aware that it is difficult to fathom the cost of those institutions in human life, considering the shortened life spans, high morbidity rates, high infant mortality rates, etc., of those affected. On the other hand, we are aware of the literally millions who perished (some through intentional killings) in the Middle Passage and the 620 thousand Americans who died in the Civil War.
With all of the above in mind, we might be tempted to minimize the significance of the bloodshed that occurred during the Reconstruction era and the entire century of strife that followed the war; Aftershock, however, does an outstanding job of illustrating the former. This film tells the stories of a variety of individuals and organizations, including the Arkansas National Guard; ex-Confederate soldiers; state officials; African American troops; displaced Southern civilians; and one of our nation's oldest homegrown terrorist groups, the Ku Klux Klan. It also devotes a few (though far from enough) moments to the often overlooked role of Native Americans in the post-war years. It even touches on the frustration that some government officials felt with Andrew Johnson's calamitous approach to the nation's troubles.
This is one of the few documentaries on the years immediately following the war that I would consider incorporating into a larger class project."
Amateurish, historically inacurate
G. Kincaid | RICHMOND HILL, GA USA | 02/04/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Buy American Experience - Reconstruction: The Second Civil War, not this one. This is History channel at its worst, the video is amateurish, and poorly done. A book or real historians would have to cite sources, apparently being a video gives Padrusch license to make things up. This film mixes fact, and fiction with an obvious agenda to make southerners and the South look like evil, racists who violate blacks and Indians. Zero ballance, huge generalizations - for example mentions "thousands of blacks starved to death while conveniently forgetting the fact thousands of white southerners also starved and it was the North that starved them both. There is almost no mention of, or real examination, about outrages committed by the Federals or Radical Republicans. It makes up dialog of historic figures like N.B. Forrest and fabricates his role in a "KKK war". One point they show the well known photo (but they blur it) of a civil war soldier executed by the Federals as a black hung by the KKK. They stage silly reenactments, like one where a real figure, General Daniel Phillips Upham, in completely fabricated hand to hand fight pulls the horn off a KKK man's hood and kills him by jabbing the horn in the KKK mans eye. It also recycles a lot of video from American Experience - Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - which is a much better choice on Reconstruction."
Really Harsh, like the History
Carrie Nunn | 06/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War depicts a very harsh, tense, and bloody reality in America after the South surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. It covers the rise and decline of the Ku Klux Klan in some detail, as well as the massacre in New Orleans. I showed it to inner-city Middle school students as part of our unit on the Reconstruction. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, because it depicts a woman and her children being whipped and uses accurate historical profanity. It is a rough movie, but so is American history during this time period."
History Buff's Side
William C. Allen | Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX USA | 09/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a History Buff of the Civil War period, naturally Reconstruction also has it's appeal to me. I never learned much about either in school. All I was taught, there was a war, these were the sides, this is who did what, the US wins the end. Then Reconstruction was always giving you the impression of great change. Actually both were horrors in themselves. Which was worse? Can you honestly answer that question?
This was the first real insight I had into Reconstruction. I would seek out other documentaries, I haven't yet tarted reading into this yet, and would get a better idea of it that way. I would recommend anyone interested in this period, or simply curious to watch this. It made you think, that the war wasn't entirely as you were likely lead to believe. This documentary was constructed in the History Channels new way of making their documentaries, which are more like Docu-Drama's which to me make it easier to "understand"."