The Vietnam War: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968)
September 24, 2017 8:20 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

On the eve of the Tet holiday, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces launch surprise attacks on cities and military bases throughout the south, suffering devastating losses but casting grave doubt on Johnson’s promise that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” The president decides not to run again and the country is staggered by assassinations and unrest.
posted by homunculus (5 comments total)
 
Though I was only 10 at the time, this episode really brought back memories of this period. Even at that age, you start thinking "wtf is going on around here?" And we haven't gotten to Chicago yet. That really opened this child's eyes.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:03 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


This was fascinating. I'd known of Tet as a major turning point in the war but I guess I'd never grasped exactly how. That it was in fact a military failure for the North Vietnamese, but a public relations failure for the American government.

The footage they got here is incredible. I heard a bit on NPR's Fresh Air about the footage surrounding the one street shooting from which the famous photograph came. The film was from NBC, and it did in fact air on US television one time. They negotiated with NBC to get it with the condition that they were only allowed to include what actually aired on TV, down to the frame. That footage is so gruesome it's hard to believe NBC ever showed it on TV at all.
posted by dnash at 12:14 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


And speaking of gruesome (and weirdness), after all of the death and bodies and blood and gore on this program, I absolutely did not watch Nguyen Van Lem's shooting. Had to turn down the volume and cover the screen.

I haven't come close to tears yet with this program. What I did really feel though, was when the massacre was revealed, seeing the one woman throwing her hat in frustration seeing her dead loved one(s), and another woman just throwing her hands up and letting them fall limp like "why? what is it all for?" I have no idea what she was actually thinking obviously, and she could have been thinking anything, but in that moment it just felt like a soul crying out why? why do we do this to each other?
posted by cashman at 3:37 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


They probably used this footage of my stepfather being asked about killing the last sapper at the embassy. He's on at 01:22.

My mom dated him for 7 years before he asked me if I would be OK with them marrying. We hosted dinner parties with guests like Neil Sheehan, John Paul Vann's widow, William Colby and yes Nguyen Ngoc Loan. I don't support killing prisoners but I hope you all know what the shot man did. Six children. I'd do it too.

I haven't started watching the series yet and I'm not sure I need to but I will.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:39 AM on September 27


The image of the shooting had a different context in my household. It was justified and merciful. My parents were caught in the offensive in Saigon. Door to door fighting, frantic driving and bad encounters. The shooting? Yeah, they made sure to tell me about what the shooter did so I could not give any sympathy. I still can't.
posted by jadepearl at 6:03 PM on September 27


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