Vietnam by Ken Burns

Currently in the queue on Netflix is the “Vietnam” by Ken Burns. I just finished it, and, like all the Ken Burns targets, it is outstanding.

It starts well before the common story (with advisors ramping up through the early Kennedy administration,) back when the real drama started with the French trying to maintain its hold on its Indochina colonies after WWII. The French were abysmal stewards of their colonial properties, ruthless, and exploitative to the extreme of the indigenous population. However, their strength sapped, they turned to us, and our paranoia of the spectre of communism leaking out of the USSR and China realm, took the bait. Continue reading →

Vietnam in HD – History Channel series

I love Netflix streaming. There is a constant stream of recommended shows that are hit and miss. One, “Aliens on the Moon, the Truth” was a miss. However, “Vietnam in HD” was outstanding.

It is a series, 6 episodes (40 minutes each, so originally broadcast, they were hour episodes) of commentary and footage from home movies, journalist cameras, and other sources. The commentary were from veterans, or people who were inextricably linked to the war. Fascinating watching, and once I started I couldn’t turn it off.

Having been born at the beginning of the escalation, it was before my consciousness, so I really had little opinion on the conflict from my direct experience. I of course couldn’t avoid reading about it growing up, but it seemed distant. A conflict to prevent the spread of communism, a domino theory in the cold war between east and west, it seemed remote.

This show dispelled that notion. It starts off with the lead in. The advisors had been in country for a decade (starting in the mid 1950’s) but boots on the ground didn’t commence until 1965.

The story in the first episode about taking hill 875, and the 12:1 ratio of dead Vietcong versus Americans, and how this created the new metric for conflict, the body count.

Continue reading →