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"'The Vietnam War' 18-Hour PBS Series to Begin Airing Sunday" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse14 Sep 2017 9:41 p.m. PST

""It's not over, it's not over," Sen. John McCain said of the Vietnam War.

McCain, a POW in Hanoi for five years, had been asked by on Tuesday night whether he agreed with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns that Vietnam is still "unfinished business" -- for the U.S. and for Vietnam.

"It's true. The war's not over" in the minds of Americans, McCain said, before entering the Kennedy Center Opera House for a preview and panel discussion on the 10-part, 18-hour PBS series "The Vietnam War," co-directed by Burns and Lynn Novick, that will begin airing Sunday night…"
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troopwo Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

While I like his documentary on the whole, I just don't know how well I can handle eighteen hours of somebody playing, "Bringing in the Sheeves" on a fiddle as back ground music.

PBS is going to make this a center piece of fundraising for ageing hippies and malcontents to relive their glory years. I expect nothing but constant sales pitches of sixties music CD's and pledge drives.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2017 10:51 a.m. PST

Everything I've read gives it good reviews.

coopman15 Sep 2017 11:42 a.m. PST

I looked at the companion book at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago. It is pretty impressive, IMO.

Cyrus the Great15 Sep 2017 12:25 p.m. PST

I'm looking forward to it. I've seen a lot of opinions already given here, based on nothing. Way to keep an open mind!

Mardaddy17 Sep 2017 10:18 a.m. PST

I'll probably get around to watching some or most of it after the fact.

USAFpilot18 Sep 2017 6:22 a.m. PST

Watched first episode last night and thought it was good. I liked that they covered the history of Ho Chi Minh dating all the way back to the Woodrow Wilson presidency. So many mistakes made. And the intentional keeping of information away from the President by bureaucrats with their own agenda. What a tragic waste of human life.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2017 11:30 a.m. PST


Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

I thought it was good; not great but good. Nothing I didn't already know though but I guess it is intended for a general audience.


Legion 419 Sep 2017 7:33 a.m. PST

Has been excellent so far. I highly recommend it … But yes, it appears to be aimed at a "broad" audience. Not so much hard corps "history" guys. etc.
Regardless, based on my experience, e.g. most in the US know little to nothing about the Vietnam War. And generally most forms of the media don't help. IMO this series is an exception.

A ways back when History Channel used to show actual history. They had a pretty good series and programs about this war. That continues to haunt the US on many levels.

When I go to the VA, seems most of the Vets there are from the Vietnam War. They are worth listening to from the POV of someone who was there. As I was not …

Gennorm19 Sep 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

Unfortunately not on PBS America on the eastern side of the pond. Hopefully soon.

RudyNelson19 Sep 2017 3:00 p.m. PST

i have watched a few episodes. I thought the episode about the corrupt nature of the early ruler was very good. The lack of motivation to engage and fight hard then should have been a warning to the Americans about what would happen when the USA left and they were left on their own.

Legion 420 Sep 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

I do look forward to seeing the entire series. It can be hard to watch sometimes. This was a very "difficult" time in US recent history.

I think this series should be shown in all US high school history classes. Along with programs like Burn's ACW series, etc. The average US citizen is an absolute dunce when it comes to it's own history. Let alone the rest of the world's.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2017 1:37 p.m. PST

Legion 4
Agree it would be great in a US history class.


Legion 420 Sep 2017 2:05 p.m. PST

The USA's "kids" & their parents know so little about so much of their nation's history. Or much of anything about any history for that matter. evil grin

catavar24 Sep 2017 2:04 p.m. PST

Have seen most of two episodes and have been impressed so far. Well done in my opinion.

Virginia Tory27 Sep 2017 5:17 a.m. PST

"i have watched a few episodes. I thought the episode about the corrupt nature of the early ruler was very good. The lack of motivation to engage and fight hard then should have been a warning to the Americans about what would happen when the USA left and they were left on their own."

Except by 75 the ARVN was much different from the weak, disorganized force of 1963. Cutting off their fuel, ammo and supplies is what did them in, not a lack of fighting spirit.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 10:03 a.m. PST

My wife and I find it quite interesting so far (episode 7), and SFAIK, the political and social elements are plausible. Using hindsight, I guess we should have continued to support Ho Chi Minh in 1945, against the French, as being the lesser of several evils.

However, the military elements of the documentary could have been improved. For example, the repeated "capture the hill and give it up" scenario, with inadequate explanation as to whether this was considered to be good contemporary military tactics, is annoying. They even had a U.S. general explaining why he did it, but they cut off the video before he was finished. I assume the commanders were trying to establish the location of enemy troops, so as to attack them with air and artillery, but was this best practice, or not? And if it was, why didn't the participants know this? Also, I was left with the impression that the marines in the firebases near the DMZ weren't too happy with their situations. The documentary doesn't explicitly examine that question, but the implication of stupidity is kind of there. Was this militarily justified? I don't know.


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 7:35 p.m. PST

It is a great work of film making. I thought I knew a lot about this war but holy cow is their a lot I didn't know. I was surprise to hear the story of Nixon going to the South Vietnamese in order to torpedo the Peace Talks until after the election. Just so the Democrats would not the credit. Then lying about it on tape to LBJ! Deja Vu indeed!

I like that the documentary went back to 1858 and interwove the veterans telling their stories from the modern war. I have got to get the sound track.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 7:46 p.m. PST

The thing about capturing a hill and then giving it back was explained. The hill was irrelevant. It was where a large formation of the enemy was and the mission was not terrain but casualties.

The US Military was fighting a war of attrition. Hill or no hill it was where the enemy was. But I would like to have had a military historian explain in more detail why the strategy didn't work. I would think the effect it had on morale would be one reason.

During Desert Storm and later Iraqi Freedom, the military did not want to talk about body counts. I suspect most of the top brass were Vietnam Vets. They knew it was a bad strategy back in Vietnam.

Legion 428 Sep 2017 5:53 a.m. PST

The US Military was fighting a war of attrition. Hill or no hill it was where the enemy was.
Yes, that is the way I understood it as well. But as we see … Americans don't favor a "war of attrition" like saw in WWII battles e.g. : Normandy, many battles in the PTO, etc.

I watched again "Flags of Our Fathers" the week before the Burn's Vietnam series. And was glad we [generally] don't fight wars that way any more.

I suspect most of the top brass were Vietnam Vets. They knew it was a bad strategy back in Vietnam.
Yes, I remember when I went on active duty with the 101 in '80. All the senior NCOs and Officers were Vets of Vietnam. Many with more than 1 tour. As were my ROTC instructors, '75-'79 and at IOBC, etc. '79.

I learned much from all of them. And that some times influenced the way I lead the units I commanded. Plus my outlook on warfare in general I think. For better or worse …

The Army was rebuilding itself after Vietnam. And the military learned body count, among other lessons, is not the way to run(win)in a war, at that point I believe …

Sebastian Palmer Inactive Member20 Nov 2017 12:13 p.m. PST

We in the U.K. were only given 10 of the 18 hours of this epic series, so I feel seriously hard done by.

Interestingly, to me at least, probably in part because I'm a musician myself, but also in response to the first comment left on this thread, whereas all the music in the The Civil War was, in my opinion, brilliant – I bought the OST on CD – only the 'period' music here was truly great. The modern stuff (Trent Reznor?) just sounded like passable sonic wallpaper.

I agree with Merrill McPeak (prob misspelled his name?) – and he's no nostalgic ageing hippie – who says in the film that what was happening then back home in the US, including all the music, civil rights, women's rights, etc, was an integral part of what made the US what it is now, and he clearly means it as a good thing.

I posted my thoughts on the shorter UK version over at my blog:


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