Ken Burns is one of the most prolific documentary film makers in generations. The first one that I watched by him was in the 1990’s about baseball. The film is brilliant with detailed archived photos and videos. The narration and interviews are amazing and make the story about our national pastime come alive. Seeing a young Bob Costas is comical added bonus. After building on the great success the of “Baseball” (and “The Civil War), Burns made other documentaries such as “The West”, and “The War”. Both are amazing in their own right and if you haven’t seen them they are worth your time. Last weekend PBS aired his newest contribution to American culture and history with “The Vietnam War”.
With the corruptible landscape of politics, revisionist history in our country, and the track record of PBS I watched the first few episodes with a skeptical eye. The first episode “Deja-Vu” gives an in depth background into the developments of the Southeast Asia conflict. As a young man I read and studied the war as a hobby. Always following the stories of combat and the general political outcomes of the war I had some knowledge of how we got there but I never took the time to see the details. This documentary doesn’t hold back and in my opinion is very objective in its recount of America’s steady trip into a war that would effect us for generations.
I am only a few episodes in but I highly recommend taking the time to view the programs with an open mind. One thing I can still say with no doubt in my mind. The Americans that fought and bled in Vietnam and Southeast Asia fought for a noble cause even though their own opinions may differ to that respect. I believe their efforts did make a difference in the world even though years after they left the country fell to communism.
Vietnam and most communist countries today including China are not what they could have been. Freedom has trickled into their societies and even the government. The rampage of communism across Asia, although not completely stopped, was slowed down and prevented from taking over the continent.
Each show in the series is between an hour and a half and two hours. The shows are aired on PBS or can be watched from the website.