The American War

The American War

A podcast guide to "The Vietnam War," the new documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Washington Post Opinion columnist Alyssa Rosenberg breaks down each episode of the film with Burns and Novick themselves, getting the story behind the stories, and grappling with the lessons the United States learned -- and failed to learn -- in Vietnam and at home. Listen after you watch each episode of "The Vietnam War" for a new perspective on how the film was made and what it all means.... Show More

Episodes

September 29, 2017 23 min

“The Vietnam War” begins with Henry Kissinger’s call to put Vietnam behind us. It ends with the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” Ken Burns and Lynn Novick explain the difference, and how the painful lessons of the Vietnam era can help us today.

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Some soldiers in Vietnam fought bravely, and then came home to oppose the war they’d served in. Their experiences are a reminder that Vietnam mixed up American notions of patriotism. As Ken and Lynn explain, we’re still trying to piece it back together.

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The Kent State massacre was one of the most searing domestic moments of the antiwar movement. Alyssa talks to Ken and Lynn about their memories of the shooting, and about finding new ways to tell the Kent State story.

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In America, the My Lai massacre helped turn Americans against the war, while in Vietnam, atrocities such as the massacre at Hue are still taboo subjects. Alyssa asks Ken and Lynn about telling stories of brutality and survival.

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The Vietnam War produced indelible wartime photography. “The Vietnam War” takes a closer look at the stories behind the photos, including Eddie Adams’s famous picture of a street-corner execution in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.

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As African-Americans fought for their rights at home, anti-Asian racism shaped American policy in Vietnam and became a coping tool for soldiers. Alyssa talks to Ken Burns about his career-long focus on race as a key part of the American story.

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Many of the Gold Star parents who lost their children in Vietnam are aging, and as they are, their stories are being lost. Alyssa finds out how Lynn Novick and Ken Burns found Jean-Marie Crocker, a Gold Star mother.

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To truly understand what happened to America in Vietnam, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick knew they had to talk to our former opponents. Alyssa talks to Lynn about what it took to go to Vietnam and find the veterans and civilians who shared their stories.

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September 19, 2017 22 min

It’s easy to say now that the Vietnam War was always a doomed endeavor. But Americans who went to fight in Vietnam thought they were answering John F. Kennedy’s call to public service. Alyssa asks Ken Burns how our ideals went so wrong.

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In the premiere episode of “The American War,” Alyssa talks to Ken Burns and Harvard professor Fredrik Logevall about Episode One of "The Vietnam War," discussing the stories Americans tell ourselves about what happened to our country during the Vietnam.

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