Vietnam: A Television History (1983): S01E04 – LBJ Goes to War (1964-1965)


Vietnam: A Television History (1983) is a 13-part American documentary and television mini-series about the Vietnam War (1955-1975) from the perspective of the United States.

It was produced for public television by WGBH-TV in Boston, and it was originally broadcast on PBS between 04 October and 20 December 1983.


When LBJ became President there were some 16,000 advisers in South Vietnam and some of those were involved in combat. The President’s main concern at the time was the war on poverty and the building of what he called the Great Society. The strategic hamlets that were built by the South Vietnamese government were being destroyed, often with the help of those lived there. Hanoi decided to escalate the war and Johnson found himself in an election against a conservative candidate. He was under pressure not to relent in the fight against Communism. On 04 August 1964, the USS Maddox was attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin (though some now question the veracity of the reports around that incident). The US Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that essentially authorised the President to make war. Johnson ordered the bombing of the North, in an operation called Rolling Thunder. A series of attacks in Saigon – the explosion at the Brinks hotel; four days later, a major attack on the South Vietnamese army; and then an attack on Pleiku – led to the first request for additional US troops to protect the three jet-capable US airfields. On 08 March 1965 3,500 Marines landed at Da Nang and by the end of the year, there would be 200,000 American troops in Vietnam.

Vietnam: A Television History Series

You can find a full index and overview of Vietnam: A Television History here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 18 October 1983.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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