Ken Burns' "Vietnam"

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October 26th, 2017 at 9:34:48 PM permalink
Member since: Oct 23, 2012
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Just finished part 10.

It is hard to find the words. I will say I thought the whole series was outstanding. Surely a difficult war to explain. None of my opinions on the war changed much but I feel I've learned a lot.

When I was in high school I was not exactly in the cool crowd. I'm sure that comes as a surprise to nobody. I did befriend several Vietnamese students whose families settled nearby to where I grew up. They were all great friends. The most loyal and giving people I have ever known. It won't be easy, but I'd love to find them and catch up. They never ever spoke of the war, although I'm sure they remembered it. I don't know what my point is. I still don't know the point of the whole war. Ultimately, we have to move on and hope we remember the war, lest we repeat the same mistakes.
Knowledge is Good -- Emil Faber
October 27th, 2017 at 2:55:23 AM permalink
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 53
Posts: 5713
Quote: Wizard
...lest we repeat the same mistakes.
We always make the same mistakes. Look at the War of 1812, Most of the goals of the war were on land, indeed there were no goals about the sea at all. On land, however, it was defeat after defeat some of them even resulting in courts martial proceedings against the cowardly and incompetent officers involved. So in our history books it morphed into a sea war because at sea there were fewer defeats and an occasional victory.

I can't believe that Johnson really thought some Vietnamese rice farmer was going to enter the White House and kill him if he let Vietnam go communist.

We were fighting for a South Vietnamese "turnstile" that simply shuffled the corruption-derived spoils around a bit but never really fought the war or wanted to fight a war.
November 17th, 2017 at 10:53:18 AM permalink
Member since: Sep 18, 2015
Threads: 2
Posts: 345
The series is an absolute treasure. It has heart felt interviews powerful photos, the right pace, well selected music IOW all of the strong points that you expect from a Ken Burns, Lynn Novick documentary. (I've read that Novick deserves much of the credit). The series began with A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall and ended with Let it Be, just perfect. Episode 10 is an absolute masterpiece with a minute by minute account of the fall of Saigon with amazing footage throughout. The episode also covers the Vietnam war Memorial, a great example of public art that enriches our culture.

A couple of things I didn't know: I didn't fully understand how clear it was to the men in power from early on that the war was unwinable. I had not heard of the veteran protest when they angrily threw their medals , powerful stuff. I had no idea that the M16 rifles were so bad. Trying to find more information about why the M16s were so bad I stumbled across this article from The Atlantic from 1981.

It chronicles the whole story of the Army taking a fine weapon and turning into junk and distributing it to boys who depended on it to survive.
November 17th, 2017 at 1:27:55 PM permalink
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 53
Posts: 5713
It wasn't just the mud that affected the M-16s but also the type and amount of gunpowder used in the rounds. Weapons testing had never been realistic. Some GIs chose to adopt a Kalishnikov and hope they could find sufficient ammunition for it. When entire platoons stripped down their weapons in the field while under fire you know the situation was serious, so the manufacturer cranked up the lawyers and speech writers, not the production line.
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