Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part documentary series, THE VIETNAM WAR, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history. Not edited for television.
Vietnamese revolutionaries led by Ho Chi Minh end nearly a century of French colonial occupation. Vietnam is divided in two. Communists in the North aim to reunify the country, while America supports Diem’s untested regime in the South.
Kennedy inspires idealistic Americans to serve their country and wrestles with how deeply to get involved in South Vietnam. As the autocratic Diem regime faces a communist insurgency and Buddhist protests, a political crisis unfolds.
With South Vietnam in chaos, hardliners in Hanoi seize the initiative and send combat troops to the South. President Johnson escalates America’s military commitment, authorizing bombing of the North and deploying ground troops in the South.
North Vietnamese troops and materiel stream down the Ho Chi Minh Trail into the South. As an antiwar movement builds back home, soldiers and Marines discover that the war they are fighting in Vietnam is nothing like their fathers’ war.
American casualties mount as they face deadly North Vietnamese ambushes and artillery. Hanoi lays plans for a massive surprise offensive, and the Johnson administration reassures the American public that victory is in sight.
On the Tet holiday, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launch attacks on cities and military bases throughout the South, suffering devastating losses but casting doubt on Johnson’s promise that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”
7. The Veneer of Civilization (June 1968-May 1969)
September 25, 2017
Public support for the war declines, and American men of draft age face difficult decisions and moral choices. After police battle with demonstrators in the streets of Chicago, Richard Nixon wins the presidency. In Vietnam the war goes on.
With morale plummeting in Vietnam, President Nixon begins withdrawing American troops. As news breaks of an unthinkable massacre committed by American soldiers, the public debates the rectitude of the war.
U.S. airpower makes the difference in halting a North Vietnamese offensive. After being re-elected, Nixon announces Hanoi has agreed to a peace deal. American prisoners of war will finally come home—to a bitterly divided country.
While the Watergate scandal rivets Americans’ attention, the Vietnamese continue in a civil war. When North Vietnamese troops pour into the South, Saigon collapses. For the next 40 years, all sides search for healing and reconciliation.
101. PBS Previews: Ken Burns: The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
August 28, 2017
This program takes a look at creation of the upcoming series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick: THE VIETNAM WAR. Featuring interviews with the filmmakers, behind-the-scenes footage, and exclusive clips from the series, this program will give viewers an advance look at this Fall's most anticipated film.