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Each week at In The Past Lane, the American history podcast, host and Historian-at-Large, Edward T. O’Donnell, brings you news, stories, interviews, and special features on all things U.S. history. His aim is to be both engaging and thought-provoking, inspired by the notion that history explains the world we live in and provides insights into how to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and just future. So come along with us as we journey In The Past Lane.  

Sep 17, 2017

This week I speak with America's most acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, about his new project, The Vietnam War. This 10-part, 18-hour epic debuts on PBS on September 17, 2017. Vietnam has long been one of the most divisive events in recent US history. And yet, after making films on the two most popular wars in US history, the Civil War and World War II, Ken Burns has taken on this extraordinarily complicated and emotion-filled topic. It's sure to generate a lot of commentary and -- as he and I discuss in this interview -- hopefully, many conversations in homes across the US. This episode begins with a short set-up piece, kind of a Vietnam 101, and then moves on to the main event, my interview with Ken Burns. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did. 

Among the many things discussed in this episode: 

Why Ken Burns chose to tackle the Vietnam War.

Why Americans initially supported the Vietnam War.

What eventually made the Vietnam War so controversial.

Why Ken Burns thinks his film has the potential to bring a divided America together.

How the Vietnam Wall went from controversy to sacred space.

About Ken Burns – website

Further Reading

Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (2017)

David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (1972)

Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History (1991)

Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (1989)

Smithsonian, The Vietnam War: The Definitive Illustrated History (2017)

Karen Gottschang Turner, Even the Women Must Fight: Memories of War from North Vietnam (1998)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Hefferman, “Discovery” (Free Music Archive)

Blue Dot Sessions, “Sage the Hunter” (Free Music Archive)

Hefferman, “Winter’s Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017