Ken Burns’ Vietnam


Finished watching the 10 part, 18 hour The Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns.

Almost wish it lasted longer.

Again – 18 hours over 10 episodes. Yet it was well done, even when (most) episodes included interviews with the same dozen or so main interviewees – must have been a hell of an editing session!

I’ve watched a few of Burns’ documentaries; this is – by far – the best (and I loved The National Parks: America’s Best Idea) of his efforts.

Impressions of the Vietnam doc- short list after watching (but not long-er digesting) the doc in no particular order:

  • Live footage – from US, North and South Vietnam
  • Interviews with North and South Vietnam soldiers (as well as US soldiers/officials)
  • France – trying to get rubber (Indochine) failed to subdue, let’s say, Vietnam. US repeated basically all of France’s errors in same country (and echoes Russian failure in Afghanistan, followed by US’s 16+ years in same country)
  • How our leaders lied to us, and basically to NOT BE the first president to lose a war…’cause it’ll hurt re-election. Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon…
  • Combined with Watergate, the Vietnam War totally reduced American’s trust in government. This – to me – is an ongoing issue.
  • A lot of good people – both sides of the war – died for no good reason.
  • The Vietnam Memorial was debated in last episode – push-back by some vets; legitimately embraced. (NOTE: I’ve done the Vietnam Memorial — powerful and sublime)