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Risky putting it here instead of in the "Political pundit" sub-forum, but since it IS a television show on PBS, about water that is now well under the bridge, I figured I'd treat it as such.

I missed the first episode on Sunday, having spent the evening (and a pleasant evening it was) with fellow forumites, but caught the second episode last night. I had heard filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick interviewed about it last week. It sounded fascinating, and last night's episode lived up to my expectations. I gather it will be broadcast on 10 consecutive nights (nothing gets pre-empted by football games on PBS), although it can also be streamed on-line. The film-makers do NOT recommend binge-watching.

To those of us of a certain age, JFK was a sacred figure of sorts. I still remember when our grade 7 teacher came back that Friday afternoon from a brief interruption at the classroom door, with a look of horror and disbelief, and broke the news. But of course, as 12 year-olds we knew nothing of what was going on legislatively, or in terms of policy decisions. We only knew who "the good guys and bad guys" were, and thought that Kennedy was a good guy. So, learning last night that it was Kennedy who initially authorized the use of Agent Orange, and who also ramped up American participation in Viet Nam, was a bit of a head turner. Not that "good guys" are incapable of making honest-but-poor policy decisions. But it was a side that had simply never dawned on us. Moreover, foreign policy is generally not something that very young people think about. We were far more concerned with what we were seeing on TV with respect to the civil rights movement.

One of the things the series contains a lot more of are tapes of conversations involving both Nixon and Johnson. In the interview, Burns and Novick both expressed a certain surprise for the way in which both presidents could switch topics from Viet Nam to more mundane matters.

In any event, I look forward to the rest of the series, and hope you do too. That war is something that many of us may think we know something about, but will learn we knew very little.
 

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I also did not know that Kennedy was responsible for the Agent Orange attacks.
Like you said Mark, back then it was about the 'good' guys and the 'bad' guys.
Politics and world issues did not matter to us 12 year old kids and i wish i could feel like that again. Was a simpler time for me.
 

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LOL I missed the first one too, PVR mishap...

I'm about half way through the second episode, good stuff so far. Neutral and lots of detail. I think it helps to have a bit of background, so perhaps more interesting for the older guys.
 

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One of my coworkers is watching it and he is really enjoying it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Burns & Novick apparently worked on the series for a decade. One of their priorities was to interview the oldest informants as soon as possible, Vietnamese and American, before they passed on. Some of the more interesting segments were current comments from journalists who had covered the war back in the early 60's.
 

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hmmm...i'll have to look out for it.

I wouldn't worry about this thread going political. At some point, political morphs into historical.
 

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I watched some of it. It doesn't come close except for the guy who still sleeps with a night light.
#mhammer.....you're lucky you know very little about 'Nam.
 

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Burns & Novick apparently worked on the series for a decade. One of their priorities was to interview the oldest informants as soon as possible, Vietnamese and American, before they passed on. Some of the more interesting segments were current comments from journalists who had covered the war back in the early 60's.
Did they talk to guys like Pat Sajak?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I watched some of it. It doesn't come close except for the guy who still sleeps with a night light.
#mhammer.....you're lucky you know very little about 'Nam.
I knew a guy in 1971 who had served in the U.S. Army in Nam, and had come to Canada. He was a little messed up. He had been injured over there, and told me that if you timed everything just right with your morphine treatments in the hospital, you could stay high all the time.

But I don't think the point of the series is to somehow make the military experience as real as possible for the viewer (though that is a part of it). Rather, the political decisions that led to the course and duration of the war, and the factors leading to those decisions, are more the focus. I think a great many of us were largely unaware of the shifting political landscape within South and North Vietnam. The taped conversations between LBJ and Robert McNamara are also quite illuminating.
 

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Watched the first 2 episodes yesterday. Quite interesting. Thanks for the heads up on this one. Will be watching the rest of it.
 

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I watched some of it. It doesn't come close except for the guy who still sleeps with a night light.
Agreed.

I think this thing is more a political documentary than anything else. Hopefully a useful one since they keep repeating the same administrative mistakes that were made in Vietnam.
 

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The Vietnam campaign totally fascinates me and it's, even more, interesting as I know a coworker who served...The stories are captivating and according to my friend many Vietnam war movies are accurate, basically, a bunch of guys sitting the jungle scared to death!...
I must try and track down this documentary, I hope it's available on YT or a live streaming site,
 

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The Vietnam campaign totally fascinates me and it's, even more, interesting as I know a coworker who served...The stories are captivating and according to my friend many Vietnam war movies are accurate, basically, a bunch of guys sitting the jungle scared to death!...
I must try and track down this documentary, I hope it's available on YT or a live streaming site,

Just google "PBS Vietnam" and it will find it. You can play it from there if you have a VPN extension (Hola) on your browser that will tell them you are within the US.
 

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I will check this out. a great documentary on Robert McNamara is " The fog of war" - Q&A format that shows how complex and entangled the matrix of decisions affecting wars is in real time. At the time of documentary, he was in his 80's and still sharp. The one line that stood with me and to paraphrase " sometimes you have to do a bit of evil in order to do good".
 

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Currently know some vets. At the time met numerous guys who were draft dodging. Both groups are deeply traumatized, for obvious different reasons. I cannot imagine being faced with the decisions they had to make at the age of 18. You don't have to agree with any particular side to imagine the decision. Personally, I was 18 in 1970 so would have been eligble for the draft. Scary as I reflect on the decision I would have had to make if I had been drafted. I was, as probably most were, totally inadequately mature or informed enough to make any decision about the war. I am forever grateful that I never had to make that decision.
 
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