Mother Jones

INTO THE VOID

Ken Burns thought he understood the Vietnam War—until he started working on a film about it.
The 1966 funeral, in South Carolina, of a black soldier killed in Vietnam

NOVELIST ROBERT STONE once likened the Vietnam War to a piece of shrapnel “embedded in our definition of who we are.” Who better to extract that shrapnel than Ken Burns, America’s preeminent documentary filmmaker? Ever since his definitive 1990 series, The Civil War, attracted a record 40 million viewers to pbs, Burns has been tackling historical topics ranging from jazz and the national parks to World War II, often in collaboration with director Lynn Novick. Ten years in the making, The Vietnam War, Burns and Novick’s 10-part journey into the most divisive of our 20th-century conflicts, premieres September 17 on pbs.

The series, which relies on the latest historical accounts, scores of participants, and a wealth of archival materials, gives voice to Vietnamese combatants and civilians in addition to the usual American experts, policymakers, veterans, and protesters. The result is a work of dramatic sweep

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Mother Jones

Mother Jones4 min read
A New Leaf
FOWHEN THE IDA B. WELLS housing project opened on Chicago’s South Side in 1941, its up-to-date kitchens and grassy lawns drew more than 1,500 black families looking for somewhere decent to settle. But over the decades, the project fell into disrepair
Mother Jones12 min readPolitics
Fueling the Conflict
IN THE DESERT not far from Deir Ezzor city, an American special forces convoy zooms past, leaving me and my escorts in a cloud of dust. Out here, fighters, backed by air support from the US-led coalition against ISIS, are pushing into the last few vi
Mother Jones2 min readPolitics
Arms With Legs
SINCE 2015, the Pentagon has spent at least $2.2 billion arming and training Syrian fighters. While that equipment helped crush ISIS on the battlefield, some of it has fallen into the wrong hands. The United States has a spotty record of keeping tab