By: Zilli

With any luck, the television documentary  ''The Vietnam War''  by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick may open the way for a new period of public and academic interest in the conflict.

That may sound strange : How many movies, books, poems and documentaries have been made about the war, after all?

A lot, of course. But with few exceptions, the ''conversation'' around the war has been stuck in neutral, focused on a few important but far from ''all-encompassing'' questions.

But the Burns-Novick documentary could change all that.

History, especially the history of controversial conflicts, tends to get stuck in ruts. Take, for example, the historical arguments around Britain's role in World War 1.

There are many similarities between Britain's Great War and America's Vietnam.

Britain's generals were perhaps dimwitted, its policies and politicians arguably misguided and its veterans mostly overlooked.  Despite a victory for the  ''Allies'', much of the British role in the war seemed futile.

It didn't feel like victory. And the war created tectonic cultural and political changes in Britain and its colonies.

Almost as soon as the war ended, historians swarmed around it, engaging in a debate with great immediate consequences for a country that still considered itself the heart of a global empire.

The resulting torrent of books and films focused on metanarrative -the big question that mattered most.

Was the war good or bad? Had there been a meaningful victory? Was the sacrifice of a generation worthy of the war's outcome?

Students not to miss this great documentary.................. Hopefully, this new documentary will jump start a new era of interest and scholarship around the Vietnam War.


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