Picks and Pans Review: Vietnam: a Television History

UPDATED 10/03/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/03/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (9-10 p.m. ET)

If you don't watch anything else on television this year, watch this series. But be forewarned. Like events from the war that it chronicles, the 13-part documentary is by turns frustrating, infuriating and inspiring. An independent production team, headed by executive producer Richard (Choosing Suicide) Ellison, spent six years and $4 million on the project, and it shows. Although repetitive, erratic and too long, the series is full of memorable moments: Ho Chi Minh is shown whiling away moments in Paris in 1946 looking like the dumbest of tourists; Clark Clifford describes softly how he formed an antiwar group among Lyndon Johnson's close aides; a GI slowly begins to cry as he tells how he shot an old Vietnamese woman for no other reason than that he was afraid. The battle footage is not sanitized; the pain and blood of war are graphically depicted. The series offers no "answer" to how and why the U.S. involved itself in the war. However, the programs seem mostly to validate the theory proposed by columnist Tom Wicker in his 1964 book JFK and LBJ: American involvement grew from a series of small decisions that, taken one at a time, seemed both morally right and politically expedient, but which eventually accumulated into a terrible morass.

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters