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missile-monkey

A must see TV Documentary

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A must see TV Documentary on BBC 4, catch up on the I player. Called The Vietnam War, directed by the renowned Ken Burns. It’s on par, if not better than his famous programme about the American civil war.

The programme documents the history of the conflict in Vietnam, starting with the problems the French had following the Second World War right up to the end when the US finally left. It is well balanced, accurate (I think) and views the conflict from both sides. Some of the interviews from veteran Viet Com soldiers/fighters/guerrillas are extremely interesting. Something I had never heard before.

What will be really interesting to modellers and history buffs alike is the sheer amount of original film footage of both the ground and air war, some of it in colour. I particularly found the footage of US marines (none Huey) helicopters fascinating.  I already have my next project from episode three of the series lined up !

Anyway don’t take my word for it. Watch it for yourself and make your own mind up.

Regards

MM

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I can second your opinion on this fantastic documentary, I've watched all the series up to episode 7 so far and it's brilliant if disturbing stuff.

 

Cheers,

Stuart

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24 minutes ago, Stu_davros said:

I can second your opinion on this fantastic documentary, I've watched all the series up to episode 7 so far and it's brilliant if disturbing stuff.

 

Cheers,

Stuart

I'll 'Black Cat' your 7 with an 8. Ken Burns has done some rather splendid stuff. I still think his 'Civil War' series stands up well today after seeing the series again recently.

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I'm watching episode 1 now, Ken Burns' Civil War is probably my all time favourite documentary series, after 20 minutes I've got high hopes for this one too.

 

Thanks for the reminder, episode one is only available for another 8 days on I-Player so catch it while you can.

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I've been watching it too and it is very good. Apparently, the version we are seeing in the UK has about 10 minutes running time removed from each programme compared to PBS's original.

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14 hours ago, Darby said:

I'll 'Black Cat' your 7 with an 8. Ken Burns has done some rather splendid stuff. I still think his 'Civil War' series stands up well today after seeing the series again recently.

I will up that one as well,

 

Interesting  stuff, found the revelations on how "Tricky Dickie" Nixon secretly "fixed" his  win just before the election by secretly phoning  and convincing the South Vietnamese president  to boycott  the paris peace negiotiations, causing a swing in the polls away from his opponent to him  and cementing his presidential win.

President Johnson knew he had done it as he had the SV president bugged by the CIA, and had nixons  conversation with him  on tape, but he couldn't  reveal it as it would have compromised the intelligence operation, and then to cap it the programme plays the tape recording of Nixons phone call lie to Johnson in which he categorically  denies it ever happened perish the thought etc etc! 

All that and Watergate too,  at least he got his come uppance in the end. And we think  our politicians are a dodgy bunch!

 

Selwyn

 

 

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Have to agree with the opinions here, utterly fascinating documentary and pretty depressing comparing the behaviour of the politicians and military leaders from then to recent and current conflicts, nothing seems to have changed.

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The first episode was a real eye opener with regards to the rise of the Viet Minh, I was unaware of a lot of the history prior to the 50's / 60's particularly of the fact that the US Govt supported the VM when it suited their interests in the fight against Japan in WW2, but then changed their stance once the VM adopted ever more Communist ideals, and directed the fight to end French colonial rule, I can in a very small way partly empathise with the Vietnamese's sense of betrayal.

 

Similarly I can see parallels in the modern day in Afghanistan where the US initially backed the groups that ultimately became the Taliban and Al-Qaeda when those groups were fighting the USSR, however I have no empathy with those parties, but the phrase "you reap what you sow" is very relevant.

 

 

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3 hours ago, AntPhillips said:

The first episode was a real eye opener with regards to the rise of the Viet Minh, I was unaware of a lot of the history prior to the 50's / 60's particularly of the fact that the US Govt supported the VM when it suited their interests in the fight against Japan in WW2, but then changed their stance once the VM adopted ever more Communist ideals, and directed the fight to end French colonial rule, I can in a very small way partly empathise with the Vietnamese's sense of betrayal.

 

Similarly I can see parallels in the modern day in Afghanistan where the US initially backed the groups that ultimately became the Taliban and Al-Qaeda when those groups were fighting the USSR, however I have no empathy with those parties, but the phrase "you reap what you sow" is very relevant.

 

 

Yip not a lot changes....I agree if I were the VietnameseI'd be pretty p***ed as well...

 

MM

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Guys don't take this documentary as the gospel truth.  It's quite controversial here in the States. Most of the controversy is over all the stuff they left out. And if you believe some other historians and the people there, they left a ton out to make the "story" more interesting. I was especially upset with how they glossed over the insane policy that got us into the war.  (American innocence, what a joke. It would be funny if  it wasnt so dang sad.) While attacking the insane policy that got us out. And refusing to interview Kissinger? Because he had nothing to add? What?

 

Enjoy it for what it is, but understand that here in most circles it's considered a deeply flawed project. 

Edited by Thud4444

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Harold Wilson may not have been the greatest British Prime Minister but at least he kept us out of Vietnam.  I can't help thinking that if I'd been American rather than British I would have faced the draft and I wonder if I would have had the courage to refuse like the guy on the most recent programme who went to Canada.  My mother had a life-long American pen friend whose son was drafted and ended up in Vietnam.  He survived but was deeply damaged by the experience and died prematurely from drink and drugs.

 

I've just finished Mark Bowden's masterly book "Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam" which I recommend without reservation to anyone who hasn't already read it.  Apart from its own considerable merits it makes a very good companion to the TV series.

 

 

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I am also working my

eay through the series, I am up to episode 4. It has been fascinating so far, there is something quite compelling about Vietnam War. 

 

Watching the opening scenes of episode one, where the destruction and death was played in reverse was hypnotising. For me it showed the pointlessness and pure waste of war. Hopefully decision makers and people of influence take note of landmark documentaries like this and learn from the hard lessons played out in the past. 

 

On a side note, the soundtrack is fantastic too! 

 

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22 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

Guys don't take this documentary as the gospel truth.  It's quite controversial here in the States. Most of the controversy is over all the stuff they left out. And if you believe some other historians and the people there, they left a ton out to make the "story" more interesting. I was especially upset with how they glossed over the insane policy that got us into the war.  (American innocence, what a joke. It would be funny if  it wasnt so dang sad.) While attacking the insane policy that got us out. And refusing to interview Kissinger? Because he had nothing to add? What?

 

Enjoy it for what it is, but understand that here in most circles it's considered a deeply flawed project. 

Interesting Thud4444. Food for thought. Thank you for your imput.

 

Regards

 

MM

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Just watched the last episodes... what frustrates is seeing the same behaviour from governments 50 years later, denial, obfuscation and lying. Its heartbreaking.

 

The statement by one of the vets that the memorial "will save lives" brought a lump to my throat as we all know it won't. The people who make the decisions to send young men and women to die in wars and conflicts will not care about the effect is has on them, just on what they want to achieve. It was always thus and always will be.

 

Was a good series overall, leaned a lot more of the history than I'd known before.

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I think that is one of the most important unspoken messages in the documentary - the parallels to Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious to see, but never alluded to.

 

What also struck me was the portrayal of the civil unrest and the parallels to the current furore over the national anthem protests that have been going on. One placard I saw from a 1970 anti-anti-war protest "My Flag Love it or Leave" and the rhetoric being used now, using almost exactly the same sentiments. Seems like its an argument that just won't go away...

Edited by Kallisti

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Saw a couple of these,  the one on Tet and the one about the Vietnamisation program (7 and 9) 

The interviews with the Vietnamese veterans were very interesting.

 

this thread reminded me that this is up on youtube,  from BBC Timewatch. 

Interesting documentary about the US support of Ho Chi Mihn by the OSS (forerunner of CIA) in 1945

 

 

 

some further reading  for anyone curious

 

Hell in a Very Small Place,  the battle for Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall, very detailed  book on this crucial battle,  humiliatiing the French,  leading to the partition of the country, and would mean that the North Vietnamese would take on the Americans in turn.

Street Without Joy by Fall is also worth a read.

 

A Bright Shining Lie by Neal Sheenan, of particular interest is the description of the corruption in South Vietnam, and the lack of American will to sort it out, which pretty much doomed the chance of the US 'winning'  in Vietnam

 

Don't kno how much this is in the documentary, but 

Sideshow, Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia by William Shawcross.

 

which is what it says on the tin,  the cynical  Realpolitik which saw secret bombing of   Cambodia (the mission 'did not exist'  and records were faked showing that targets in Cambodia were in Vietnam,  one US Airforce officer said if you had put in the right co-ordinates  you could have had them bombing China...),  

see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Menu

after that they went bomb crazy in Cambodia in the early 70's

Quote

“2,756,941 tons of US bombs dropped during no fewer than 230,516 sorties.” To put this figure into context, more bombs were dropped on Cambodia than the number of bombs that the US dropped during all of World War II. Cambodia remains the most heavily bombed country in the world.

from https://irevolutions.org/2012/01/14/crisis-mapping-kissinger-cambodia/

The US withdrawal of support to Cambodia leading the collapse of the US backed regime, and to Khmer Rouge,   Pol Pot and Year Zero.

 

I know very little about "the Secret War" in Laos,  but Laos got bombed a lot as well. 

 

Hope of interest

 

 

 

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I binge watched up to Episode 6 over the weekend as my wife was out.  3 episodes was the limit in one session, whatever the film makers intent it's undeniable the story and some of the film and interviews are thought provoking, and none of it very cheery.

When I was young it seemed like film of B-52s carpet bombing somewhere in Vietnam was nightly on the BBC 9 o'clock news; it didn't make much sense at ten and it still doesn't at 54!

Edited by malpaso

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Agreed it is a compelling series, but if they had the chance to interview Kissinger and didn't then that's a crucial angle that has been omitted. 

I don't know if they did seek but didn't find, but a few more views from close to the adminstration to explain/justify their actions and a few veterans who believed in the cause throughout would have been interesting inclusions to add some balance.

Maybe they are the bits cut from our version?

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14 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

History repeats itself over and over because no one wants to learn anything from the past. 

I don't think it's they don't want to learn from the past,just to stupid...

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Just finished episode 8. Fascinating to hear the North's side of the story too, and to see the war put in context with the US domestic situation. Prior to watching this series, the Tet offensive was 'just another battle' and I knew nothing of monks setting themselves on fire in the streets of Saigon. And while I had read about there being some anti-war protests, hadn't heard about US students being shot dead on campus by the army. 

 

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