The Vietnam War (Ken Burns, 2017)

From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 2 Aug 2019 11:31
To: ALL1 of 5
We're actually a little over halfway through this (10 * 1.5-hr episodes), but I don't see it materially changing as it's been very consistent thus far. I have fairly vivid memories of the era as a young teenager and, as I remarked to MrsD., it feels like unfinished business as my motive for wanting to watch this series.

Apart from watching the usual Hollywood treatments (Apocalypse Now, The Platoon, Tigerland etc.), I read a biography of Ho Chi Minh, a book-length account of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, and Nguyen Giap's "The Military Art of People's War". So I knew at least some of the back story as to how it was perceived by all sides (though not so much about China).

I have to say that Burns has turned out a pretty balanced and comprehensive account given the limitations of television, with a lot of contemporary footage, and numerous later interviews with survivors and combatants on both sides (U.S., N. and S. Vietnamese). Haven't hit the part about domestic USian dissent and protests, though it has been touched upon repeatedly (just got through the Tet offensive). He has stayed focused so far mainly on the military aspects, while sketching in geopolitical and domestic USian factors. This is more dramatic, and easier to digest for the American audience it is squarely aimed at (and rightly so).
EDITED: 7 Aug 2019 19:28 by DSMITHHFX
From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) 2 Aug 2019 14:40
I haven't seen the series.

Any mention of the Gulf of Tonkin incident?
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 2 Aug 2019 16:49
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) 3 of 5
Yeah that was early on. Despite knowing a bit about it I have definitely learned a few startling facts from the series, for example, after the Vietnamese drove out the Japanese occupation and were briefly independent, they begged the Americans not to let the French take over again. But the French threatened to go over to the Soviet bloc, unless they got back their prewar colonies.
EDITED: 7 Aug 2019 19:29 by DSMITHHFX
From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) 2 Aug 2019 17:07
Very interesting!

I'll have to watch the series.  There's a lot of hidden history, with Viet Nam being one of many facets.

From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 7 Aug 2019 19:26
To: ALL5 of 5
Almost finished, about 10-minutes left on the last episode (10), which seems to be mainly a kind of requiem.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, while it covered Watergate as part of a lengthy exposition of Nixon's wartime machinations and paranoia, the series didn't touch upon widespread domestic skullduggery by U.S. government agencies (notably the CIA and FBI), and by state and local police departments against activists, which ranged from building files on peaceful demonstrators, to infiltration, cultivating informers, provocateurs, blackmail, and even more sinister, manifestly harmful and illegal actions, including (it has been reputed) facilitating the large scale introduction and distribution of heroin to vulnerable communities, specifically to undercut dissent. (etc.)

So, not surprised or disappointed by this omission, but it does underscore the parameters of acceptable discourse for this project.