The Vietnam War, a 10-part documentary event series from directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, chronicles the human tragedy of the Vietnam War, one of the most politically and socially divisive events in American history. The film airs Sept. 17-21 and Sept. 24-28 on PBS.
PBS The Vietnam War Schedule And Episode Guide
All Episodes Air at 8pm ET (check local listings)
Episode 1: “Déjà Vu” (1858-1961) (Sept. 17) The premiere episode, “Déjà Vu,” traces the history of foreign occupation in Vietnam and the origins of conflict. It also reveals how the violent end to French colonialism in Vietnam in the 1950s set the stage for American intervention in the 1960s.
Episode 2: “Riding the Tiger” (1961-1963) (Sept. 18) President Kennedy and his advisers wrestle with how deeply to get involved in South Vietnam. As the increasingly autocratic Diem regime faces a growing communist insurgency and widespread Buddhist protests, a grave political crisis unfolds.
Episode 3: “The River Styx” (January 1964-December 1965) (Sept. 19) With South Vietnam in chaos, Hanoi accelerates the insurgency, sending combat troops to the South. Fearing Saigon’s collapse, President Johnson escalates, authorizing sustained bombing of the North and deploying ground troops in the South.
Episode 4: “Resolve” (January 1966-June 1967) (Sept. 20) Defying American airpower, North Vietnamese troops stream down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, while Saigon struggles to pacify the countryside. As an antiwar movement builds at home, GIs discover that this war is nothing like their fathers’ war.
Episode 5: “This Is What We Do” (July 1967-December 1967) (Sept. 21) Enemy body counts and American casualties mount as GIs chase an elusive foe and face deadly ambushes and artillery. While Hanoi lays plans for a massive surprise offensive, the Johnson administration reassures the public that victory is in sight.
Episode 6: “Things Fall Apart” (January 1968-July 1968) (Sept. 24) Seeing the violence and brutality of the Tet Offensive unfold on television, Americans begin to doubt President Johnson’s promise of “light at the end of the tunnel.” LBJ decides not to run again. The country is staggered by assassinations and unrest.
Episode 7: “The Veneer of Civilization” (June 1968-May 1969) (Sept. 25) With the country at odds over the war, draft-age Americans face wrenching choices. After chaos roils the Democratic Convention, Richard Nixon narrowly wins the presidency. In Vietnam, soldiers on all sides witness terrible savagery and unflinching courage.
Episode 8: “The History of the World” (April 1969-May 1970) (Sept. 26) When troop withdrawals begin, soldiers left in Vietnam ask what they are fighting for. News breaks of a shocking massacre at My Lai, and questions grow about the war’s rectitude. The Cambodia invasion sparks large protests, with tragic consequences.
Episode 9: “A Disrespectful Loyalty” (May 1970-March 1973) (Sept. 27) South Vietnamese forces fighting on their own suffer a terrible defeat in Laos. After being re-elected in a landslide, President Nixon strikes a peace deal with Hanoi that allows American prisoners of war finally to come home — where they find a bitterly divided country.
Episode 10: “The Weight of Memory” (March 1973-Onward) (Sept. 28) President Nixon resigns amid Watergate, while a brutal civil war continues in Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops overtake Saigon with overwhelming force. For the next 40 years, Americans and Vietnamese from all sides search for healing and reconciliation.