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Vietnam - A Television History: Episode 9 - Cambodia and Laos (1983) ๐Ÿช–โœˆ๏ธ

Published on 15 Apr 2022 / In Documentaries

โฃVietnam: A Television History (1983) is a 13-part documentary and television mini-series about the Vietnam War (1955โ€“1975) from the perspective of the United States. It was produced for public television by WGBH-TV in Boston, Central Independent Television of the UK and Antenne-2 of France. It was originally broadcast on PBS between October 4 and December 20, 1983. Later, it was rebroadcast as part of the PBS series American Experience from May 26 to July 28, 1997. However, only 11 of the 13 original episodes were rebroadcast. Episodes 2 and 13 were dropped. This is the complete original version.

Vietnam: A Television History was the most successful documentary produced by PBS up to the time of initial broadcast. The origins of the series reach back to 1977 when filmmaker Richard Ellison and foreign correspondent Stanley Karnow discussed the project. The latter had been a journalist in Paris during the 1950s and a reporter in French Indochina since 1959. Karnow was Chief Correspondent in the series and his tie-in book, Vietnam: A History (1983), became a best-seller.

โฃEpisode 9: 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 organized the Hmong hill tribes. In 1961, Laos was the major crisis center in Southeast Asia. In March 1964, the US organized 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, organized 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 April 12, 1975 Americans were evacuated and less than a week later, Phenom Penh fell.

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