Summary

From the award-winning historian and filmmakers of The Civil War, Baseball, The War, The Roosevelts, and others: a vivid, uniquely powerful history of the conflict that tore America apart - the companion volume to the major multipart PBS film to be aired in September 2017.
More than 40 years after it ended, the Vietnam War continues to haunt our country. We still argue over why we were there, whether we could have won, and who was right and wrong in their response to the conflict. When the war divided the country, it created deep political fault lines that continue to divide us today. Now, continuing in the tradition of their critically acclaimed collaborations, the authors draw on dozens and dozens of interviews in America and Vietnam to give us the perspectives of people involved at all levels of the war: US and Vietnamese soldiers and their families, high-level officials in America and Vietnam, antiwar protestors, POWs, and many more. The book plunges us into the chaos and intensity of combat, even as it explains the rationale that got us into Vietnam and kept us there for so many years. Rather than taking sides, the book seeks to understand why the war happened the way it did and to clarify its complicated legacy. Beautifully written, this is a tour de force that is certain to launch a new national conversation.
©2017 Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (P)2017 Random House Audio
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Critic reviews

"Lucid, flowing, and dramatic...robustly detailed writing...eye-opening...powerful in its own right.... In their new 'intimate' yet capacious history, the award-winning, audience-enthralling duo of historian and screenwriter Ward and documentarian extraordinaire Burns investigate the complex, divisive, and tragic Vietnam War from a unique plurality of perspectives." (Donna Seaman, Booklist)
"The melancholy tone of Ken Burns's voice exactly suits the mood of this history of the Vietnam War... Burns adds no false drama but always reads with a tone of respect for the front-line combatants and the earnest opponents.... Overall, the audio does the print version full justice." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mr. Alan R. Jenkins on 01-11-17

audio book better than documentary film

fantastic insight into the Vietnam War from begins to final collapse with both sides of the story told in great detail with personal stories of participants and those who were there but necessarily involved in the conflict. The audio book is in my opinion better than the film documentary which also watched - the book deals with more detail; however, I would recommend that both versions be considered as you can see visually what much of the audio content is describing.

Factual, unbiased, and certainly the most accurate account I have yet to come across on the War; and explains where mistakes were made on both the French, American and Vietnamese sides; and how the peace movement influenced the final outcome; and the book ultimately explains the tragedy that befell the South on the communist take-over with its unimaginable human and economic cost.

Five stars = must listen to.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tony on 01-10-17

Stunning account of Vietnam War

This is a must listen account of the Vietnam War told through the people who made and experienced it. The complexities of it's beginning are clearly explained and the futility of the military actions revealed. However the it's the interweaving of secret records, personal accounts, verbatim conversations

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gillian on 14-09-17

Breathtaking In Scope; Heartbreaking In Reality

I bought The Vietnam War because I respect Ken Burns and, well, I wanted to make sense of what I saw on TV and in the newspapers when I was just a little kid.
This book is mindblowing in its scope, in the detail, in the amount of research that was poured into it. It covers about every viewpoint a reader/listener could ask for: background shenanigans at the White House, a grunt's view, the war back home (from peaceful demonstrators to those who made the peace movement something Nixon's public hated/feared); Vietnamese civilians trying to live in the midst of chaos, North Vietnamese and the NLF who were willing to sacrifice everything and kill every American they could.
And much, much more.
It's all delivered in the tones of skilled documentarians who sometimes skimp on the emotion but always, always, deliver blows with dead accuracy. Sometimes devastating, sometimes heartrending, the same tones are used.
And that's the only, only flaw I could find with this audiobook.
Everything else? Well, I'm still wondering how the heartbreak I saw on TV after watching Captain Kangaroo, after hearing at my grade school about POWs, happened: It's all so very tragic, and the fact that we can find lines that trickle their way through our current actions and inactions just about rips my heart out.
Listen to this if you want great history. You won't be disappointed.

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20 of 22 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Arthur on 13-10-17

Adds more detail to the PBS Documentary

I listened to this audiobook and watched the Ken Burns Documentary at the same time. Both were excellent. This audiobook tracks well with the Documentary through 1970 but it adds some more detail such as an analysis of what Kennedy would do if he wasn't assassinated which wasn't in the Documentary.
While the Documentary was excellent and by far the best I have seen on the Vietnam war - I was disappointed with the Documentary's coverage after 1970 - it appears that perhaps the TV producers ran short of funding and did a relatively cursory coverage of the last 4.5 years. That being said, the audiobook continued to have excellent coverage after 1970 and contains a lot that was obviously cut out of the Documentary and that I wish was in there. For example, the audiobook contains excellent analysis of the Vietnamese diaspora which was almost entirely missing from the Documentary.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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