Episode 1021 of the podcast Vietnam Veteran News will feature a Brit’s opinion of Ken Burns’ epic documentary The Vietnam War. It comes in a story titled: The Vietnam War: terror, heartbreak and helicopters ablaze in an epic documentary that was submitted by Mark Lawson. The lead sentence in his story gives a fairly good idea what his opinion is of the epic documentary: “It’s rare for someone who makes TV documentaries to become the subject of one. But earlier this year, Tom Hanks hosted a tribute show called Ken Burns: America’s Storyteller. Colleagues, historians and even presidents praised the work of a film-maker who has consistently encouraged Americans to look to their past.”
He pointed out that the Vietnam War was the first one to be televised and that thanks to the heroic actions of the Prime Minister at the time, Harold Wilson, who opted out on the US invitation to join in the fray could watch the war with a historical disinterest.
More than likely, the real reason the Brits declined to enter the War was because they had just ended their own ten year war against Communist insurgents in The Malayan Emergency and were tired of the whole insurgent war thing. By the way it was called an emergency rather than a war because Lloyds of London would not pay damages for a war. Another interesting little tidbit about the British war in the Malay Peninsula was that they were the first to use a jungle defoliant which later gained fame in the Vietnam Was with its new name – Agent Orange.
Lawson provided a well thought out description of the documentary and pointed out several techniques used by Burns and his creative partner Lynn Novick. One for example was their persistent even-handedness.
Listen to the entire episode number 1021 and discovery the full report of The Vietnam War by a reporter with a British point of view from The Guardian.