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Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.

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Nov 16, 2022

When it comes to history—particularly American history—nothing is ever definitive, says documentarian Ken Burns. Much of his work has focused on capturing that history in film, but in his new book, Our America: A Photographic History, his goal is to share the complexity of his country as well as honor those roots in still images. From the very first photograph, a self-portrait, to our modern inundation with selfies, he tells “the story of us” – a story of darkness and light, just as in the photographic process itself.

Ken joined Tyler to discuss how facial expressions in photos have changed over time, where in the American past he’d like to visit most, the courage of staying in place, how he feels about intellectual property law, the ethical considerations of displaying violent imagery, why women were so prominent in the early history of American photography, the mysteries in his quilt collection, the most underrated American painter, why crossword puzzles are akin to a cup of coffee, why baseball won’t die out, the future of documentary-making, and more.

Read a full transcript enhanced with helpful links, or watch the full video.

Recorded November 1st, 2022

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 Photo credit: Michael Avedon