For decades, the war in Vietnam was the central drama on the stage of Southeast Asia. It was an intensely publicized war, the first television war that came roaring into the living rooms of America every night. Walter Cron... more »kite tells the story of the long and divisive conflict as seen through the eyes of CBS News. Dan Rather, Morley Safer and Ed Bradley report the stories of American courage, failed programs, an elusive enemy and ultimately an end to a tragic war. It is all graphically shown in these superb CBS documentaries which tell the story of the most divisive war in American history and its effect on those who fought it.« less
"Im surprised not more has been said or written about this fantastic piece on the vietnam war. The footage and stories from the reporters in Nam were simply mesmerizing.
Basically there are several stories by reporters including a teenage looking dan rather. Walter cronkite is the host from a studio although he is on location sometimes...the stories are rarely seen footage...I've been watchign vietnam documentaries for years and until I saw this dvd I had never seen some of the footage shown...actual firefights and interviews with soldiers in the bush...its captivating....
I liked the story about the sequence with the vc sniper, also the rebellion by charlie company after the good lieut. leaves and is replaced by a more gung ho one...the company refuses to follow orders and go down a road because they know its set up for an ambush....great drama.
The story about the taking of a hill is another one....great footage and details about going up a hill and getting ambushed by snipers and then hit by their own artillery...
this DVD set is really well done and footage that you've rarely seen before....not in PBS, letters home from vietnam, or anything else....many hours of nam...you'll feel like you're actually in the bush for once..."
A must buy for those who want to know how the war went on TV
matthew ip | Hong Kong | 01/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These three DVDs are actually the news clips appeared on CBS during the 60s' and 70s'. They are very worth buying if you want to know how the war appeared on TVs of the American families. Many scenes are touching, deeply moving and difficult to find elsewhere. For those who are younger than 40 like me, these DVDs can tell us what has really happened during the Vietnam War (though only from the eyes of western reporters)."
Marivaux | 06/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I used portions of the DVD in a course I taught on the "History of Television". Many of the segments are the closest thing that you can come to recreating for students today what was meant by the often used phrase "living room war" or "television war"...of how television affected Americans' perception of the war and the power that the visual image had in emotionally affecting viewers. Many of my college students were profoundly affected themselves in viewing images from those CBS news reports--such as the report on "enemy body counts", where a helicopter airlifts a netload of Vietnamese corpses or a segment where we learn of young Americans who eventually died in the process of claiming and relinquishing nameless hills. The students experienced first-hand a sense of what it was like in the 1960s/1970s to turn on your television and have to deal with war and death, and the cognitive dissonance the nearly 40-year-old images created in their minds."
R. J. Duarte | Largo, FL | 01/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When deciding on a good Vietnam documentary I knew I wanted something extensive and with plenty of first hand accounts. This brought me to this DVD and the PBS Television History of Vietnam DVD. After reading the reviews of the PBS version I was dismayed to see that there were things left out from the original production and decided on the Cronkite set. With all that said, I'm not sure how much of the PBS series duplicates the footage on this series, nor do I know if this series includes parts that were left out of the PBS series. I never saw the PBS series so I cannot comment on a comparison between the PBS set and this one. It would certainly be something I'd like to know, so if anyone has seen both and would like to comment, please do.
So, in looking at this documentary on its own, I can say without hesitation that it was immensely entertaining and informative. What you are getting is about 12 hours of CBS news footage. Some of it has narration by Cronkite to bring the viewer into the scene and frame a specific topic or event, but the majority of footage is simply the news broadcasts of the day as they were shown back then. The set is divided into 11 different parts. These episodes follow a loose chronology beginning with The French falling at Dien Bien Phu and going all the way up to the fall of Saigon. However, the episodes are more thematic and therefore jump around in time.
The stories selected for the DVD are engrossing. I didn't find myself bored for one instant during the entire length of the documentary. I also appreciate the large amount of human interest stories included. Things might have gotten dull for me if they showed 12 hours of combat footage. This is especially true for a war like Vietnam where the combat footage consisted mostly of soldiers firing into the jungle at an unseen enemy. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of great combat footage. It is some of the other types of stories I enjoyed most. For example, there is a story about an area in South Vietnam where the military brings its trash, basically a landfill in Vietnam. Vietnam peasants converge on the trash like vultures searching for any scrap they can find. One sergeant is responsible for chasing away the Vietnamese who descend on the daily trash disposals. Right away you can see the futility of this task. As soon as he chases away one group another is rummaging through another part of the trash pile. When interviewing the sergeant his disdain for the Vietnamese is clear as he refers to them as "less than human." He is obviously a man who is not happy with his current assignment. Things take a turn for the worse when some Vietnamese are wounded by a not quite spent concussion grenade which goes off in a pile of trash.
One entire segment of the documentary was devoted to the city of Saigon. It was quite interesting to see the strange dichotomy between the US forces and the native Vietnamese in the city of Saigon.
I'd also like to comment on the episode on Tet. I found it extremely well done. There was extensive coverage of Khe Sanh on this episode as well. The footage of soldiers at Khe Sanh playing guitar and singing amongst all the chaos around them is priceless.
I don't feel I can conclude my review without mentioning -for lack of a better term- the sheer balls that these reporters and crew had. You will see many familiar faces on the front lines including Cronkite himself, Dan Rather, and Morley Saefer, among others. Many of these TV crews were under fire just as the soldiers were and they seemed to brave any danger to get their story. At the end of the program Cronkite tells the viewers that in fact 8 colleagues at CBS were killed in Vietnam and 30 were injured while covering the war. Frankly, I'm surprised the numbers weren't higher. It's also interesting to watch how the reporters who spent a lot of time in Vietnam go from hawk to dove right in front of your eyes as the war drags on. Like the soldiers, these reporters were witnessing the quagmire of Vietnam first hand, and after a while they had no trouble expressing their disdain for the situation to the American public. This media coverage cannot be underestimated in the ultimate decision of Lyndon Johnson not to run for re-election. It is said that Johnson knew when he lost Cronkite he lost the American people as well. That's how powerful these stories were in shaping American opinion on the war.
Although it may be understood I feel I should mention that this documentary is not for the faint of heart. You see a lot of the horrors of The Vietnam War here. Yes, there are mangled and bloodied bodies including women and children. This was the reality of the war and this documentary pulls no punches in this regard.
Overall I don't hesitate in recommending this DVD for anyone interested in Vietnam. There are more highlights in these stories than I have space to recollect in this review, and besides, you should see them for yourself. Having been born the year before Saigon fell, I have no memory of these news casts as I was not alive of course. Seeing these stories brought me as close to Vietnam as I could hope to get without actually being there. This is no movie. It's the real thing, and these gutsy reporters did a great job of bringing the war into American living rooms. I'm glad I finally got to bring these broadcasts into my living room as well."
A Lot of unseen unbiased news footage
Bob Hoskins | Elkhorn, WI USA | 02/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like a lot of guys my age I'm obsessed with all things Vietnam. I was at the point where I honestly thought I'd seen every bit of film ever shot in Vietnam during the American involvement (65-72) and then from 72 to the fall of Saigon in 75. Then I stumbled across this gem. Cronkite hosts this series and runs us through some classic news reports from back then. The reporting is unbiased and the comments from the troops is raw and from the gut. The reporters back then were all guts. Out on patrol with the GI's, eating with them, living with them and just being a part of the group. I've watched the siege of Hue so many times before but this DVD had new, unseen (for me) footage. They even showed some of the original news feeds routed via Japan at the time. Vietnam is fascinating, from the politics that got USA into combat to the rout by the North Vietnamese that reunified the country. A true David and Goliath story. It's all in this collection. Honestly, if you are into Vietnam then this one really is worth getting. It's unbiased, uncritical and unedited. Very worthy addition to your collection. "