September 30, 2017

THE TRAGEDY OF THE PBS-KEN BURNS VERSION OF THE VIETNAM WAR:

My own views on the Vietnam war haven’t changed much in the intervening half-century, since my assignment in Vietnam with Special Forces, but I am called, today, a “revisionist” by some who have never served our country.  I have subsequently learned, thanks in part to Burns’s history, that a “revisionist” is anyone who opposes the Communist Party line, so I guess I can live with that.  Many of my fellow veterans have succumbed to a constant din of false history.  Burns’s documentary film series includes an Air Force general proclaiming that he thought we were fighting on the wrong side.  The view from a cockpit at several thousand feet must have been very different from that on the ground.

Related: Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals tweets, “Four episodes in, and among the things I’ve learned from #KenBurnsvietnam: Lyndon Johnson and the men around had no party affiliation.”

Heh.™ I watched the original PBS Vietnam mini-series in the 1980s. What I remember most about it now is its dour, grating atonal theme song — a sort of aural quagmire, not surprisingly — co-written by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, and the Voice of Doom narrator, who would go on to narrate Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials. I’m not sure I’m up for a second round of sermonizing on the glories of socialism.

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