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The Vietnam War (2017)—VietnamThe Vietnam War (2017)—Vietnam

This epic documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, all 18 hours in 10 episodes, took ten years and $30 million to make.  It debuted on PBS in September 2017.  A 640-page book by the same title was released at about the same time by Knopf. The movie begins at the beginning so long ago, in 1858 when the French invaded Vietnam.  The first American soldier to die in Vietnam was Air Force T-Sgt. Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr., on June 8, 1956.  In 1973, my senior year in high school, Saigon finally fell.  The movie interviews almost 80 people, and very few talking head "experts" — Americans and Vietnamese (both North and South), soldiers and civilians, those who were for and those who were against the war. The musical soundtrack combined with the archival footage is powerfully evocative for those who lived through those years — Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.  The lessons here are many and tragic: the myth of American exceptionalism, the lethal combination of hubris and ignorance, and the knowledge of hindsight that reveals a misreading of history.  To watch the series on streaming video, see here:

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