• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Nov 18, 2012
  • Season #: 1
The Dust Bowl Image

Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

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  • Summary: The latest Ken Burns documentary uses images, diaries, and interviews of survivors to illustrate the 1930s ecological and agricultural disaster that plagued the Midwest for over a decade.
  • Genre(s): Documentary
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Nov 19, 2012
    The heartbreak here--especially the cases of poor children who died of "dust pneumonia"--is tremendous. [26 Nov 2012, p.45
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Nov 19, 2012
    The drought-stricken, spirit-sapping Great Plains of the 1930s get the lyrical and learned Burns treatment.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Nov 19, 2012
    Ken Burns' documentary about the "black blizzards" that swept across the Great Plains during the 1930s is at once rigorously sourced and heartbreakingly emotional.
  4. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Nov 19, 2012
    The Dust Bowl is a powerful documentary about what human efforts can achieve and what short-term thinking can wreak.
  5. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Nov 19, 2012
    Though it has the pokey pace and flat affect of his other films--for Burns, history is elegy--it is also one of his best works: more tightly focused than usual in time and place, with a clear shape, dramatic arcs and a conclusion that is at once cautionary and moving, topical and timeless.
  6. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Nov 19, 2012
    Unlike a lot of TV documentarians, Burns steadfastly refuses to include dramatic re-creations, relying (as he did in "Prohibition," an early-20th-century companion to this) on photographs, grainy video, actors' readings of diaries or news articles, and of course those aforementioned interviews. The last might be the most compelling, providing a bridge from the macro to the micro.
  7. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Nov 19, 2012
    It's in dire need of tighter editing, most of all. Yes, the images from the '30s are powerful, but after a while, their power is diminished by repetition.

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Apr 28, 2013
    It is difficult to believe that man can cause such a massive environmental disaster. Most people were in denial, then and now. Thank goodnessIt is difficult to believe that man can cause such a massive environmental disaster. Most people were in denial, then and now. Thank goodness for Ken Burns, and his unique ability to make a historic event extremely relevant to our times today. Collapse