Under the Radar

Bringing 'The Vietnam War' Home


I've watched the entire series of The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick three times now and I've learned something new every time. You might have recorded it on your DVR or figure that you'll stream it while it's available on the PBS website or catch it while PBS stations around the country are re-airing the series this month.

Going Deep on ‘The Vietnam War’ With Ken Burns

Or you could make a worthwhile investment in the Blu-ray or DVD. You can get either one at Shop PBS. There's also a 2-CD soundtrack of songs from the film and single CD of the score, a book version by Geoffrey Ward and an audiobook read by Ken Burns. There are discounts if you bundle some of the items.

Explore the Many Sides of ‘The Vietnam War’ With Director Lynn Novick

There's an informative Making-Of documentary where the filmmakers talk about the difficult decisions about what to include and what to leave out of the final film. There are a handful of completed scenes that aren't included in the broadcast version of the program. I wish there were more of those.

John Musgrave Plays a Key Part in Ken Burns' Vietnam War Series

Marine John Musgrave is one of the key contributors to the series. The most powerful bonus feature is a meeting between Musgrave and a group of Iraq and Afghanistan share their stories and provide support to each other. There's also a fascinating clip in which series contributor and Vietnam War deserter Jack Todd speaks with cadets at West Point and embraces the idea of a universal draft. It's an uncomfortable and respectful conversation on both sides.

5 Reasons You Need to Watch ‘The Vietnam War’ on PBS

The Vietnam War is an ambitious attempt to open a conversation about the ongoing fallout from the war in Southeast Asia. Right on the box, the directors make their beliefs clear: "There is no single truth in war." Every viewer will find things that will make them uncomfortable and might even inspire some frustration or anger. Consider it a call to arms: men and women who experienced the struggles of the Vietnam need to share their stories and give the rest of us new perspective on the era.

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