Ken Burns turns his talents to the Vietnam War

I’m looking forward to this: Ken Burns and his partner Lynn Novick are producing a new 10-12 hour documentary series about the Vietnam War, which will air on PBS in 2016. The announcement was made by PBS yesterday. 

According to the Time magazine blog “Tuned In,” Burns has wanted to do the project for a while, but didn’t think it was time. In 2007, he said:

Not today, but — there was a point where, with the same vehemence of conviction that I said it after The Civil War, I’d said that we’d never do another war. I felt just within the last few months that we absolutely had to do it. I think we have to wait enough time, several years, until the veterans are, not so much at the onset of death, but at the age where their advancing age will provide them with the kind of perspectives that we’ve been able to tap into for this film.

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Burns’s popular The Civil War series aired in 1990, right before the first Gulf War began. He and Novick want their upcoming film series on Vietnam to honor the service and sacrifice of those who went to Vietnam and to consider the perspectives on a conflict that divided the nation:

The series will explore “the military, political, cultural, social, and human dimensions of what has been called “the war of lost illusions.” It will focus primarily on the human experience of the conflict, using eyewitness testimonies of so-called “ordinary” people — Americans as well as Vietnamese — whose lives were touched by the war. Parallel to the unfolding military narrative, the series will also tell the story of the millions of American citizens who became deeply opposed to it, taking to the streets in some of the largest protest demonstrations the nation has seen…

“Today, more than four decades after it ended, nearly everyone has an opinion about the Vietnam War, but few Americans truly know its history and there is little consensus about what happened there, or why,” said Ken Burns. “Our series will shed light both on the history of the war, and on our inability to find common ground about it.”


  • Zoe Romanowsky

    Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in “Catholic Digest,” “Faith & Family,” “National Catholic Register,” “Our Sunday Visitor,” “Urbanite,” “Baltimore Eats,” and Zo

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