Divisive War (03:23)
See images from the Vietnam War. Karl Marlantes reflects on returning from Vietnam and the unwillingness of people to discuss the war.
Vietnam War (04:38)
Max Cleland reflects on the suffering of those who experienced Vietnam. America's 30 year involvement began in secrecy and ended in failure; hear death statistics. Vietnam divided the United States; Vietnamese veterans do not discuss the war.
French Conquest (04:10)
The French seize control of Indochina in the mid-19th century and install a series of "puppet emperors." By the early 20th century, nationalism begins rising among the Vietnamese people. Former Marine John Musgrave discusses his hate and fear of the Vietnamese during the war.
Ho Chi Minh (03:23)
In 1919, the Allied Powers meet in Paris. Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) gives President Wilson's secretary a petition he wrote with other Vietnamese Nationalist. Ho Chi Minh lives in exile for 30 years and joins the French Socialist Party before becoming a Communist; he helps establish the Indochinese Communist Party.
Vietnam Independence League (04:58)
By 1940, Imperial Japan threatens European colonies in Asia; Ho Chi Minh sees the Japanese as alien invaders. He returns to Vietnam in 1941 and founds a revolutionary movement; Vo Nguyen Giap promotes guerrilla warfare. Mike Heaney recalls an ambush in 1966.
War and Famine (03:15)
In 1945, the American government looks for allies in Vietnam to help undermine Japanese forces; an O.S.S. team meets with Viet Minh leaders. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese suffer from starvation; Ho Chi Minh directs the theft of rice from Japanese storehouses.
End of WWII (03:26)
After the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Ho Chi Minh calls for the Vietnamese to take control of their country. He declares Vietnam's independence on September 2, 1945 and had high hopes for American support, but a cold war had begun.
Violence in Saigon (04:32)
In 1945, the U.S. is officially neutral; Allied leaders divide Vietnam into two zones. The French and Viet Minh fight in the south; Lt. Col. Peter Dewey brokers talks between them. Dewey is killed in a case of mistaken identity. Vincent Okamoto recalls informing a woman of her son's death in 1968.
Political Tensions Escalate (04:22)
French troops tale control of Saigon in the fall of 1945. Ho Chi Minh goes to Paris in 1946 and Giap begins consolidating Communist control. The Viet Minh and the French begin fighting in December and Ho Chi Minh calls for guerrilla warfare; families are divided.
French Push in Indochina (05:07)
French forces occupy most of the large towns and capitals and try to win over rural Vietnamese. The Viet Minh engage in guerrilla warfare and the French sometimes take revenge on villages; the Viet Minh target those working for the French. Roger Harris recalls telling his mother in 1967 that he would not survive the war.
Cold War (04:11)
The Soviet Union detonates an atomic bomb in 1949 and Communist forces seize control of China. In 1950, Mao Zedong and the Soviet Union recognize the Viet Minh and offer support; President Truman approves aid for the French. North Korea invades South Korea in June; Truman orders troops to the Korean Peninsula.
Efforts in Vietnam (04:25)
John F. Kennedy is convinced efforts would fail unless America convinced the Vietnamese it was equally opposed to injustice and Communism. American taxpayers foot a large portion of the bill for the French war in Vietnam. Reports of brutality and napalm horrify the French population. Ron Ferrizzi recalls a 1968 uprising in Chicago.
Korea and Dien Bien Phu (07:17)
U.N. and Communist negotiators sign a truce in 1953. The French and Ho Chi Minh agree to talk but each side first wants to improve positions on the battlefield; learn about the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
Indochina Armistice (03:10)
Diplomats gather in Geneva to determine Vietnam's future. Ho Chi Minh agrees to a negotiated settlement and Vietnam is temporarily divided at the 17th parallel. Marlantes recalls a fierce battle in 1969.
Democracy in South Vietnam? (06:34)
Civilians in North and South Vietnam have 300 days to relocate. Ngo Dinh Diem heads the government in the south, but faces opposition. Diem initiates an assault on the Binh Xuyen syndicate and the French withdraw; he declares himself president of the Republic of Vietnam.
Developing Vietnam (04:18)
President Eisenhower orders American civilians to South Vietnam and military advisers train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh focuses on rebuilding Vietnam and cautions comrades in the south against violence. Diem's regime grows increasingly harsh and Communists attack South Vietnamese officials.
Emerging Leaders in Hanoi (07:41)
Ho Chi Minh begins sharing power with others, including Le Duan; the North Vietnamese adopt an aggressive position against the Diem regime. In July 1959, Viet Minh kill two American advisers at Bien Hoa. Southern revolutionary groups establish the National Liberation Front.
Credits: Déjà Vu (1858-1961) (03:06)
Credits: Déjà Vu (1858-1961)
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