Vietnam: A Television History (1983): S01E09 – Cambodia and Laos


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.


The Pathet Lao in Laos were supported by the North Vietnamese who transported supplies south through Laos. The Kennedy Administration wanted to ensure a neutral Laos and to ensure that organised the Hmong hill tribes. In 1961, Laos was the major crisis centre in Southeast Asia. In March 1964, the US organised a secret bombing campaign in Laos using unmarked planes and targeting the Ho Chi Minh trail. In 1964, Cambodia was still at peace and Prince Norodom Sihanouk attempted to maintain his State’s neutrality. The country prospered with an abundance of rice and fish and nearly 90% of peasants owned their own land. In 1963 Sihanouk, afraid that the situation in Vietnam might spill over into his country, organised anti-American propaganda and by 1966, Cambodia had maintained its neutrality and had broken off relations with the United States. American aircraft often pursued the enemy across the border into Cambodia and in 1970 President Nixon launched major bombing attacks on Cambodian territory. In January 1970, Sihanouk left on a trip and in March 1970 army officers ousted him with Lon Nol leading a new government. Sihanouk, now in exile in China, declared his support for the Kmer Rouge. Nixon ordered troops to attack North Vietnamese enclave along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. The US pulled out after 60 days as promised with 350 dead Americans. Cambodia was plunged into full-scale war as the Khmer Rouge moved into the interior. On 12 April 1975 Americans were evacuated and less than a week later, Phenom Penh fell.

Vietnam: A Television History Series

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

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 22 November 1983.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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