The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War

DVD - 2017 | Widescreen edition.
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In an immersive narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. Features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.
Publisher: [Arlington, Virginia] : PBS, [2017]
Edition: Widescreen edition.
ISBN: 9781531701734
Branch Call Number: DVD 959.7043 VIE
Characteristics: 10 videodiscs (approximately 18 hrs.) :,sound, color ;,4 3/4 in.
digital, optical, surround, rda
video file, DVD video, rda
Additional Contributors: Coyote, Peter


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VaughanPLDavidB Oct 29, 2018

For the first half of the 20th century, the United States was fiercely isolationist, only reluctantly and belatedly joining the two world wars. However, at the end of the second, it found itself as the pre-eminent economic and military power in the world, and liked how it felt. For the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st, it threw its weight around, stumbling like a drunken elephant from one disaster to another in Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. The most disastrous and protracted act of American hubris was the nearly 30 years that it was mired in the Vietnam War.

What I took from this exquisite documentary is how deeply divided American society became, and still is, because of that war. I was also disturbed by the evident fascistic tendencies of American society that seemed to approve of the beating of student protesters in Chicago in 1968 and the killing of student protesters at Kent State University in 1970, and seemed to want the government to prosecute the war even more vigorously than it was. There is a strong echo of those tendencies that can still be heard in America to this day.

Oct 13, 2018

On the whole a creditable effort, but not as good as the full 13 episodes of "Vietnam: A Television History". Back in 1980, many of those directly involves such as Christian de Castries, Vo Nguyen Giap and Pham Van Dong were still alive gave interviews and answered questions from the documentarians. This documentary gives better coverage of America's involvement, but the earlier documentary gave way better coverage of the French saga from 1895 until 1954.

Oct 12, 2018

(*Lyrics excerpt*) - "All we are saying is - Give peace a chance."

This is a picture of war - And, believe me, it isn't a pretty one.

This was a war that the Americans had no business being in.

This was a war where two-faced, US President, Lyndon Johnson promised his gullible citizens that American involvement would only last for a few months.

This was a war that endured (under direct US occupation) for 10 years (1964-1974) and took the lives of 60,000 American military men (with over 300,000 wounded) - Not to mention the dead Vietnamese.

This was a war where blacks (and other racial minorities), along with under-privileged whites, were the ones sent to the front lines to fight.

This was a war that was condoned by 2, hypocrite, US presidents (Johnson & Nixon) in order to save political face.

Through interviews, narration, and archival footage - This is a mighty powerful re-telling of the reality of that war, which, as you'll see, is like nothing that Hollywood has ever shown you.

May 20, 2018

Powerful yet disappointing, unless you're just looking for a documentary from the U.S. perspective. There are cutaway scenes in the first couple of episodes, that seem to say "we know you're bored with these Vietnamese and French people. Here's what matters: Americans, in the jungle, 1968!" I thought it was an aberration, maybe some network interference, but no. The series continues 80% U.S., 20% Vietnam, and virtually zero percent anyone else. No French interviewees, although propping up the French empire was the excuse for the war in the first place. No one Chinese or Russian, though their influence is supposedly what was "really" being fought. No one from the international community, which persistently tried to arrange ceasefires and peace talks. And it misses one important piece of the domestic puzzle: what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex and the near 1 trillion dollars spent in Vietnam, much of which ended up in the pockets of arms dealers and corrupt officials. But I don't want to be too hard on The Vietnam War, because it does a lot of things right; for example, it balances criticism of war atrocities with tributes to the bravery of many who fought. And not just of U.S. but of South Vietnamese soldiers, who have so long been the scapegoats of both pro- and anti-war sides. Most online clips have been deleted, but I but the attached trailer gives some idea of the other virtues of the series.

Episodes six through ten cover Tet up to the capture of Saigon. Terrific documentary. My quibble is that at the end Burns and Novick attach a feel-good coda about Maya Lin and Vietnam Veterans Memorial which is supposed to stand in for a real discussion about the legacy of the war and our amnesia about what was once called the "Vietnam Syndrome," the post-1975 aversion of the American public for overseas adventures. Reagan (Grenada), Bush (Panama, Kuwait), Clinton (Kosovo) and W. (Afghanistan, Iraq) all helped to bury it. Now the U.S. is engaged in more overseas adventures than ever before with almost no congressional input. It was the refusal of the U.S. Congress in 1975 to appropriate more money for the war that brought it to an end. That would never happen today.

Feb 03, 2018

Of all the documentaries on the wars in Vietman this is the best I have seen. (And yes I recall watching "The Ten Thousand Day War" and "Vietnam A Television History" back in the 1980s). This series had so much depth it is almost overwhelming. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have drill deep not only into the history of the United States and Vietnam but the involvement of the French in colonizing and brutalizing Vietnam from the 1850s onward. It explains how the Vietnamese fought for their independence and then amongst themselves, And follows the numerous mis-steps that numerous American governments took to expand and escalate the war throughout Indochina. Many times I was moved by the oral histories given by those who told their stories of what they did and what happened to their loved ones.

I was a little concerned, based on a few things I read online, that this would be a revisionist account of the war. Vietnam War revisionism -- there is a good article that was published on yesterday (1/28/18) that addresses this -- began in the late-70s/early-80s and divides into two camps, the Clausewitzeans and COINistas. The Clausewitzeans argue that if we would have bombed North Vietnam even more than we did and invaded with a large ground force we would have won the war; the COINistas -- David Petraeus, "Mad Dog" Mattis, et al. -- think if we would have done the "hearts & minds" thing better in South Vietnam we would have beaten the Vietcong and won the war. You'll know from watching episodes 1-5 that both positions are poppycock. Both Johnson and Nixon saturated the North with bombs and mined their harbors; a large ground invasion was tried in the Korean War and it led to the intervention of the Chinese army. So much for the Clausewitzeans. As for the COINistas, "hearts & minds" was tried by the French (pacification) and the Americans (strategic hamlets) and was a bust. The Petraeus and Mattis COIN reboot was tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do you think it worked? What Burns-Novick documentary makes crystal clear is that South Vietnam was jiffy-pooped into existence to evade the responsibility as stipulated by the Geneva Accords of 1954 to hold nationwide elections to reunify the country.

Jan 28, 2018

I couldn't believe how well this documentary series was done. It should be required viewing for all kinds of people. It represents the conversation that America never had with itself until now. Ten episodes, each running between 90 and 120 minutes, makes for close to 20 hours of viewing. Quite a commitment to sit through all that, but it was never once a burden. Food for thought for weeks afterwards. An incredible eye-opener. A must-see if there ever was one.

Dec 02, 2017

Of the 100+ songs in this series, only 1 is a Vietnamese song.
Burns & Novick could have done better.

Nov 14, 2017

As usual Ken Burns has produced an excellent documentary. Real people relate their stories from every aspect of this useless war. The lives lost and the politics behind the war really make one think. If the truth had been known at the time people would have been horified at the waste of all the lives of young and old alike.
Particularly shocking are the tapes revealing the US President Johnson knew the war was unwinnable very early on yet he continued to commit more and more young men to the slaughterhouse.
Nixon's behind the scenes manipulations are to the point were one can only describe them as evil.
Well worth the watching!

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