The Vietnam War: “Riding the Tiger” (1961-1963)
September 18, 2017 5:35 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

President Kennedy inspires idealistic young Americans to serve their country and wrestles with how deeply to get involved in South Vietnam. As the increasingly autocratic Diem regime faces a growing communist insurgency and widespread Buddhist protests, a grave political crisis unfolds.
posted by Fizz (7 comments total)
 
It's really startling how fast events unfold in this series, as compared to the more laconic pace of Burns' Civil War.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:38 AM on September 19


I don't think I'd ever heard before about how the Diem regime was oppressing Buddhists. I had of course seen images of the immolating monks, but I guess I hadn't fully understood their motivations. I thought they were just generally anti-war protesters.

The whole messy situation at this point feels eerily familiar. There's a lesson here about propping up asshole dictators in a way that turns the people against us that clearly our government has never learned.
posted by dnash at 8:09 AM on September 19


I don't think I'd ever heard before about how the Diem regime was oppressing Buddhists. I had of course seen images of the immolating monks, but I guess I hadn't fully understood their motivations. I thought they were just generally anti-war protesters.

Me too. I was surprised by that.
posted by homunculus at 12:03 PM on September 19


I can't really organize my thoughts yet, but I felt "some type of way" as the kids say, listening to Kennedy saying "yeah, that kinda sucked when we encouraged that coup".

Thus far the series has also shown how a misstep here and there causes the deaths of so many people. And it's really disturbing how people sit there and play all this like a game.
posted by cashman at 2:44 PM on September 19


And it's really disturbing how people sit there and play all this like a game.

In the first episode, right at about 2 or 3 minutes in, there is a short interview with a Viet Minh soldier who makes mention of the fact that only people who have never fought in a war talk about who wins or who loses. That everyone suffers and that there's only death and destruction.

It seems so obvious but also quite the powerful statement.
posted by Fizz at 5:43 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


In the first episode, right at about 2 or 3 minutes in, there is a short interview with a Viet Minh soldier

This is Bảo Ninh. He's a writer famous for his book The sorrow of war, a poetic and very critical depiction of the Vietnam war as lived by a North Vietnamese soldier (the book was written in the 1990s, published first in 1994 in English and 10 years later in Vietnam).

Duong Van Mai, who also appears in the episode (she talks about the 1945 famine among other things) is a writer/memoirist known for The Sacred Willow, a 4-generation family memoir, which is a must read for people interested in Vietnamese culture. She's the wife of David Elliott, a scholar and specialist of modern Vietnamese history (retired but still quite active).
posted by elgilito at 6:23 AM on September 20 [10 favorites]


elgilito, Thanks for sharing those links. Much appreciated.
posted by Fizz at 2:00 PM on September 21


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