A New Award Winning Series Sheds Light on American History

Recently, the 2017 Critics Choice Documentary Awards judges selected a lengthy documentary series broadcast on PBS as the winner of its second annual Best Documentary Series Award. The Vietnam War (2017) explores one of the watershed conflicts in U.S. history during multiple episodes. It garnered the recent honor for its intensive examination of the divisive conflict.


Extensive Research


The documentary created by a team including Ken Burns and Lynn Novick relies upon narration by Peter Coyote. It includes accounts from Americans and Vietnamese participants. The production staff interviewed more than 80 people while researching the series. Viewers can consider information supplied by both military and civilian sources; the series offers the perspectives of both supporters and opponents of the war. It traces the history of Vietnam from 1858 to 1961, and then spends extensive time documenting accounts of the Vietnam War during the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Administrations.


A Polarizing Period in U.S. History


President Kennedy initially committed military resources to fight the spread of Communism in Indochina while promoting a Cold War-era “Domino Theory” policy. He feared governments in the region might succumb to Communist takeovers like pieces in a global board game. As American involvement in the Vietnam conflict increased, and casualties mounted, criticism of the fighting gradually grew within the United States. The events occurring overseas ultimately spawned a very vocal domestic Antiwar Movement during the Johnson and Nixon Administrations.


A Costly Conflict For Americans


Several Communists nations (including the Soviet Union, the PCR, Cuba and North Korea) ultimately contributed support to forces fighting to unify North and South Vietnam under a single Communist regime. While South Vietnam received generous assistance from many allies, the provision of military support from the USA stood out. The United States spent vast sums prosecuting the conflict. The effort eventually cost the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and produced well over 150,000 U.S. casualties.