NPR

18-Hour Vietnam Epic Is Lesson On Horror Of 'Unleashing Gods Of War'

Directors Lynn Novick and Ken Burns tell Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd about what it took to produce their documentary, which concludes this week on PBS.
In this Jan. 1, 1966 file photo, a Paratrooper of the 173rd U.S. Airborne brigade crouches with women and children in a muddy canal as intense Viet Cong sniper fire temporarily pins down his unit during the Vietnamese War near Bao trai in Vietnam. Filmmaker Ken Burns said he hopes his 10-part documentary about the War, which begins Sept. 17, 2017 on PBS, could serve as sort of a vaccine against some problems that took root during the conflict, such as a lack of civil discourse in America. (Horst Faas/AP)

Directors Lynn Novick (@LynnNovick) and Ken Burns (@KenBurns) tell Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd about the effort it took to produce their 18-hour documentary about the Vietnam War that concludes this week on PBS.

They explain the insight that dozens of Vietnamese voices bring to the retelling of the story, and the lessons the war has to teach the American government today about getting dragged into a protracted conflict.

Interview Highlights

On the entire process coming to an end with the final episodes of the documentary

Ken Burns: “I mean, it’s like a child, you don’t want to let it go. I mean, it’s been with us for so, so long that we’re just beyond

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
Tomato Truce: U.S. And Mexico Strike A Deal On Imports
The U.S. agreed to lift tariffs on imported tomatoes from Mexico. But importers warn that stepped-up inspections could still create bottlenecks, limiting supplies and raising produce prices.
NPR3 min read
'Floating Coast' Reads Like A Eulogy To The Natural World — With A Sliver Of Hope
The triumph of this book is how Bathsheba Demuth pulls seemingly disparate threads together into a net of actions and consequences from which the whales, the Yupik, and our children can't escape.
NPR2 min readPolitics
The Federal Budget Deficit Is Getting Bigger As Spending Grows
The deficit is expected to swell to $960 billion this year and average $1.2 trillion in each of the next 10 years, according to congressional budget forecasters. They also expect the economy to slow.