By the time the war ended in 1945, 50–60 million people had perished, most of them civilians. Here in America 16 million women and men donned the uniform, and some 405,000 of them died. Thus, says Burns, the war was necessary, but it wasn't necessarily a "good" war as we have been taught to say. Disc #1 of his seven part documentary contains Episode 1, "A Necessary War." It covers the period from Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) until the end of 1942 when America won its first victories against the Japanese in the Pacific islands. Burns views the war through the lens of four American towns, showing how their citizens and soldiers experienced the war — Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California (which then had a population of 7,000 citizens of Japanese ancestry); Waterbury, Connecticut; and Mobile, Alabama. The archival film footage of actual battle, along with the personal stories of the soldiers and families who are interviewed, combine to show how, in Burns's view, the war "brought out the best and the worst of people, and then blurred the two."