Late Breaking: A Fateful Misunderstanding: A Discussion of the Film Documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

AHA Session
Saturday, January 6, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Roosevelt Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Christian G. Appy, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst
Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago
Heather Marie Stur, University of Southern Mississippi
Carolyn Eisenberg, Hofstra University

Session Abstract

The PBS documentary on the Vietnam War has already been viewed by millions of people and has received extraordinary publicity and attention. While Ken Burns and Lynn Novick utilized historians as consultants, in selecting their 80 “talking heads,” they made a clear decision to omit historians’ voices and to rely on people, who were directly involved in the Vietnam War. This partly reflected their determination to present the conflict from multiple sides and to sidestep interpretive disputes. In our Roundtable, we want to discuss that choice, consider some of the strengths and weaknesses of the series, while exploring the continuing analytical issues that surround the Vietnam War.
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