Ken Burns's twenty-ninth historical documentary, The Vietnam War (2017), co-directed with longtime associate Lynn Novick falls within the gloomier 1960s tradition of depicting war. Burns's work—twenty-eight documentaries since his debut with Brooklyn Bridge in 1981—is usually known for celebrating America's iconic things (the bridge), pastimes (baseball), places (national parks), and people (Lewis and Clark). He has, of course, tackled wars before—The Civil War series (1990), which made his reputation, and a Second World War series in 2007 (The War). But those are at least considered nationally—for all the death and sacrifice and less-than-perfect worlds that followed when the guns fell silent, the union was preserved, slavery was ended, fascism was defeated, and all under the leadership of men who have since been celebrated as national heroes—Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower.


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pp. 6-11
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