Dr. Carolyn Eisenberg, professor of history, was among the academics to serve on the panel, “Late Breaking: A Fateful Misunderstanding: A Discussion of the Film Documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick” at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington DC.
While Burns and Novick used historians as consultants, when they were selecting “talking heads” for the documentary, they made a decision to omit historians’ voices and to rely on people who were directly involved in the Vietnam War.
The panelists questioned how the documentary could tell the full story of the Vietnam War without including the perspective of academic historians. Professor Eisenberg was also critical of the filmmakers’ decision to omit “any focus” on policy making and said the film “also failed to clearly demonstrate that antiwar activists opposed not only war but the deaths of so many young U.S. men. Moreover, she said, Burns and Novick didn’t sufficiently credit these ‘grassroots’ protesters with bringing the war to its eventual end.”
Professor Eisenberg served as a Nixon-era consultant for The New-York Historical Society’s exhibition The Vietnam War: 1945-1975, which is on display through April 22, 2018. The exhibit also has an extensive web presence.