News Release

Does Burns-Novick PBS Vietnam Doc Let U.S. Government Off Hook?

Jeff Stein of Newsweek writes in “Ken Burns’ New PBS Doc Wades Into Vietnam’s Big Muddy” a review of the latest from “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, directors of The Vietnam War, a much-heralded 10-part, 18-hour epic series that debuted Sunday night [yesterday] on PBS.”

ROBERT BUZZANCO, Buzzanco at, @bobbuzzanco
Buzzanco is professor of history at the University of Houston. He has written extensively about the Vietnam War, including the books Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era, and Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life. He also co-edited A Companion to the Vietnam War with Marilyn B. Young.

He said today: “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, America’s best known documentarians, are back with an 18-hour examination of the Vietnam War. Liberals and establishment media are praising it, with George Will calling it a ‘masterpiece’ and corporations like Bank of America as well as the Pentagon are promoting it. Burns and Novick promote an equivalency about Vietnam — both sides wanted war, both sides caused destruction, both sides are to blame.

“Vietnam was a war of aggression caused by the United States. It created a ‘country’ below the 17th parallel, sent billions of dollars and weapons and hundreds of thousands of troops there, dropped over 6 million tons of bombs on an area the size of New Mexico, and led to the deaths of 2-3 million Vietnamese. Trying to rehabilitate the war with a false equivalency does a historical disservice and lets the U.S. government off the hook politically for what amounted to a huge war crime. As the U.S. government considers further military involvement in the Middle East and Korea, it is essential to understand the truth behind the war in Vietnam.”