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American Experience; Vietnam: A Television History


Homefront, USA

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American Experience
Vietnam: A Television History
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

This landmark series, first broadcast in 1983, returns to PBS as a special presentation of THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. The series examines America's longest war in the context of France's earlier colonial experience as well as Southeast Asia and Vietnam's 2,000-year history of resistance to foreign invaders. The programs provide a rich tapestry of archival footage combined with provocative interviews with participants on all sides of the political conflict. Series host David McCullough provides a new introductory essay to the first program. 911W--"Roots of a War/America's Mandarin (1954-63)"--This program traces the rise of a pro-American Vietnamese nationalist, Ho Chi Minh, whose Vietminh guerrillas grab a stunning victory over French colonial forces. The United States is drawn into Vietnam through its support -- then abandonment -- of South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem, who is assassinated in a coup. 912--"LBJ Goes to War (1964-65)"--Charging that North Vietnam had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson orders bombing raids and sends 200,000 troops into an undeclared war. 913--"America Takes Charge (1965-67)"--With the South Vietnamese army in disarray, the U.S. military assumes control of the war, leading to increased American casualties in a country both beautiful and horrific. 914--"America's Enemy (1954-67)"--The episode examines the war Americans seldom saw: the view from North Vietnam, featuring the perspectives of communist leaders, Vietcong guerrillas and American prisoners of war. 915--"Tet, 1968"--North Vietnam's dramatic offensive on the lunar New Year stuns American military and political leaders, leading to calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 916--"Vietnamizing the War (1969-73)"--As the U.S. turns over the war to the South Vietnamese army, the impact is felt on American soldiers and Vietnamese citizens, and the prospects for victory dim. 917--"Cambodia and Laos"--With fighting already spreading to neighboring Laos, President Nixon orders a secret bombing campaign against Cambodia, which soon endures a nightmarish post-war holocaust. 918--"Peace Is at Hand (1968-73)"--As President Nixon escalates the bombing of Hanoi and North Vietnamese troops advance, negotiators struggle for four years to sign a peace treaty that is quickly broken. 919--"Homefront U.S.A"--Americans at home divide over a distant war, clashing in the streets as demonstrations lead to bloodshed, bitterness and increasing doubts about the outcome. 920--"The End of the Tunnel (1973-75)"--Ten years after American ground troops arrived in South Vietnam, communists seize Saigon in a lightning attack that brings the war to a startling conclusion.



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Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Vietnam: A Television History,” 04/26/1997, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 25, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_A5BFE266AD194E3A894DF00356742330.
MLA: “American Experience; Vietnam: A Television History.” 04/26/1997. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 25, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_A5BFE266AD194E3A894DF00356742330>.
APA: American Experience; Vietnam: A Television History. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_A5BFE266AD194E3A894DF00356742330
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