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.
Episode 10: “Let it be.”
“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.
Episode 9: “The Marine Corps was the thing that I did that gave me my own confidence in myself.”
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.
Episode 8: “You have these two parallel threads on a collision course and that's where they meet.”
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.
Episode 7: “It's torturing me and I needed to tell you this.”
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.
Episode 6: “It's very rare to see a photograph of a person who was in the act of dying.”
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.
Episode 5: “I only killed one human being in Vietnam.”
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.
Fascinating and Thoughtful
Soul searching and looking for the meaning of the Vietnam War, the podcast is a valuable background piece to watching the Ken Burns, Lynn Novak’s documentary on the Vietnam War that was shown on PBS.
Compliments the The Vietnam War very well by explaining issues and topics that are explored in the documentary series
Excellent follow-up to the TV series
Each podcast goes a little deeper than the broadcast episode, with interviews with people involved in the making of the series. Well worth a listen.