It is an amazing documentary.
While it comprises of 10 parts and takes an investment of time, it is really gripping and insightful. It also at times is quite horrific.
Some of revelations that were new to me:
- JFK thought the war was unwinnable but feared that he wouldn’t get re-elected if he admitted that to the public.
- Our election process worked. Anti-war candidates RFK and Eugene McCarthy challenged LBJ in the primary, did better than expecting, causing LBJ to decline to run again.
- Our judicial process worked. When newspapers published the Pentagon Papers, Nixon sued, but the Supreme Court defended the press’ right to report.
- Nixon really was a crook. For example, he tried to sabotage peace talks as a presidential candidate. He wanted to be the one to end the war.
- The numerous atrocities by some members of both sides were truly unimaginable. It’s one thing to read about them or see still photographs. It’s another thing to watch old clips and hear/see the interviews with both perpetrators and victims.
- Sadly, the 200,000 South Vietnamese, who had cooperated with the U.S., were literally left behind. There’s a very tough interview with a Marine, who had snuck away on one of the last copters out; he had been given orders to lie and tell people that they would be evacuated. He excused himself to go to the bathroom and instead left.
The series is very much worth the time. Kudos to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. There truly is no costless war.