Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War

Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War

Ratings: 7.47/10 from 32 users.

Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day WarVietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War, a 26-part Canadian television documentary on the Vietnam War, was produced in 1980 by Michael Maclear.

The documentary series was consolidated into 13 hour-long episodes for American television syndication. The series was released on videocassette format by Embassy and won a National Education Association award for best world documentary.

The military, political, and social repercussions of the Vietnam War continue to be felt, in the ways in which it altered the landscape of American life forever. Written by CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, the 13 episodes of Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War trace the entire course of the conflict, from the closing days of World War II when Ho Chi Minh first began to assemble his revolutionary army, to the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Documentary filmmaking simply doesn't get much better than this. With extensive archival footage shot by both sides and interviews with participants ranging from infantry soldiers to diplomats, Vietnam has a detached, journalistic objectivity and fairness throughout.

It would be much easier to understand the war if it were possible to lay the blame at the feet of the French, or Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon, but the war's progress was never that clear-cut. Rather, it was a slippery slope that inexorably led to thousands of deaths and laid waste to the country of Vietnam.

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73 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Owen Self

    Who composed the music theme at the beginning of the episodes?

  2. greg

    Do a search for NSM263 JFK was pulling out and was killed for it,looks like he had it right.

  3. ternce kelly

    wiked brutalo war

  4. Alanedwardburke

    Why has this excellent documentary disappeared? Is there an innocent explanation, or are dark forces at work?

    1. John Pozhke


      I co- created, financed, produced and exploited V:TTTDW tv. Series. I was the exclusive global sales agent for the series. It recouped it's cost in 1985 and a new sales agent was appointed by the investor group. Ism the largest profit participant and have been asking the same question. I intend to regain control and put it back into global distribution.

  5. Cheeta73

    You cannot deny those soldiers stopped Communism from absorbing the south Vietnamese People and territory for Ten Years! Rhodes celebrated for keeping Demetrius out of their city for only one year? O Helios!

  6. Southeast Asia News

    I suggest that you read some of the contemporary research on the Vietnam War along with watching this documentary. The documentary is itself very good, but texts like Vietnam at War by Mark Bradley
    Hanoi's War by Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, and perhaps more sensationally
    Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

    by Nick Turse can supplement it with information gleaned from documents from Vietnamese, French and American archives that were unavailable when this documentary was made. It is an amazingly well-balanced documentary, though.

    1. earthunit104

      Really I was there, sounds like you are from hung lo or Long Wang!!!

  7. Kan

    There is a very bad tendency of human of blind sympathy with the underdog!

    Majority of people in the world sympathizing the viet cong; they have no idea that this not the usual underdog; the viet cong is the MAD underdog! mad dog savagely kills its own kind: They shoot directly into columns of refugees, they execute ordinary people. Ho, pronounced that he burns the Long mountain to 'liberate' the South!!

    China used viet cong to fight the US, they used Vietnam blood to revenge the Korean War.

    Le Duan said that they fight the US for China and for the USSR.

    I watch this documentary because it contains real events in South Vietnam, the refugees, the deaths, the miseries; not the staged one from the North, heroic youth, happy faces... It is really sad that people see half of the truth, they do not see the reality in the North Vietnam side.

    I hope the 'blind' people of the world know more about the communists, North Korea, North Viet now.

    Vietnam war is a tragedy, where the blood thirsty won the war.

  8. Phelps Hawkins

    Thank you, Alan. Brilliant, and accurate, comment. And given the drivel that preceded your comment, such a rare, pertinent comment is much-needed.

    Phelps Hawkins
    VV '67-'71

  9. Alanedwardburke

    The fact is. These brave,Poverty sticken people in their shoes made from old tyres broke the greatest military power on earth and broke the moral spirit of homeland america to such an extent that the effect on american society was still having an effect 20 years after the cessation of hostilities.The world should never forget the sheer horror that the american military inflicted on this tiny country. Agent orange,the indiscrimate napalm bombing of villages and towns, more bombs dropped than in WW 2. Need one go on? My heart bleeds for what my generation permitted to happen to Vietnam. As early as 1945 a respected american military advisor warned the pentagon that Ho Chi Min had no desire to become part of the communisation of S.E. Asia. All he wanted for Vietnam was an independent republic whose people could enjoy the the same lifestyle as the people of america. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Amen
    Alan. Cyprus 2012

    1. Joltin' Django

      Let's see ... according to "The Black Book of Communism," the "brave, poverty stricken" folks who just wanted to form a "republic" murdered 1,000,000 people in Vietnam in the name of atheistic communism. Instead of regurgitating cliches, why don't you investigate what the communists did to innocents when they briefly overran Hue during the Tet Offensive. Get back to us when you've done so.

    2. Southeast Asia News

      I'd say that Ho Chi Minh knew himself better than any "respected american military advisor." He was a founding member of the French Communist Party in 1920 and clearly his vision for Vietnam was socialist. If you read the history you will see the shift to more socialist rhetoric begins in the late 40's and in 1952-53 the party was purged of moderates and middle class veterans.

    3. earthunit104

      You don't have a clue, the CONG wanted and received communist rule, the real tragedy is that we should have never been there in the first place, actually we started helping the south in 1954, the French were already there for a hundred years!!!!!!

    4. michael dineen

      I agree on some of your points and you are correct about Ho Chi Minh. He was looking for the US to throw him a life preserver and we said, sorry drown instead. And that was after he stuck his neck out for us with the Japanese. Unforgiveable. The real crime is bye the politicians and back stabbers who were all out for an agenda. You can't blame our soldiers for doing their duty there. The things that go on behind the scenes in politics is mind boggling. I respect the Vietnamese people so much for what they went through. I love when I read peoples remarks that actually know the history.

    5. michael dineen

      Your assessment is spot on.

  10. James

    You sir are correct. We did defeat the north forcing them to the table. The north broke the treaty defeating the south because of the dems, who didn't give a damn about our commitment, or promise to the Republic of South Vietnam and the Yards. If we had lost, as some say, than why wasn't there cries and whaling in '73?

    1. earthunit104

      You also correct because I was part of that I fought in Vietnam 71-72 we did not lose sheet!!!!

  11. Michael Wierson

    this country is a fascist state, admit it.

  12. Dean Edgington

    a ten hour doc! Juicy :)

  13. Kaj Siab

    our ancestors were part of Vietnam's War and that's the reason our Hmong people here in the USA. Because our Hmong people helped the CIA fought against the Vietnamese (Communist) from 1965-1975.

  14. panthera f

    Americans are really insane. :-(
    The greatest warmongers on the planet.

    1. Jarkko Toivonen

      They seem to attack every 3rd world country which has oil or other resources.. Spent tax-payers money for war though they country is in economical crisis..
      (sorry for typos my native language is not English)

    2. Joltin' Django

      What resources, exactly, were up for grabs during the Vietnam War? Rice? Funny-lookin' hats? When you're speaking of oil, you're not speaking about Afghanistan (their oil output is miniscule). So you must be talking about Iraq. If George W. Bush was so interested in Iraq's oil, why did he bother invading? He could've just paid Saddam Hussein under the table for all the oil he wanted, flouting numerous U.N. resolutions, you know, like the French were doing.

    3. Bill Ackerman

      Yes, rice. If you know something about VN, you know it was divided much like our north & south --- industry in the north, agriculture in the south. The north always had to depend on the south for rice. Unfortunately nowhere, I assume in even these documentaries, is there an emphasis on how much this was an ethnic war, northerners against southerners, with central VN not much liking either group.

      That is not to disacknowledge that there were grevious faults on BOTH sides, massacres & killings. If the U.S. had any military role in VN, it should have been the opposite of what is was -- U.S. forces providing security, & South Vietnames forces doing the actual fighting. This of course is a typical U.S. response, & exactly the same mistakes were, & are, being made in Iraq & Afghanistan.

      The day LBJ bombed the north was the beginning of the end for U.S. involvement. That act provided the NVN propaganda machine exactly what they needed to motivate their people -- saying that those acts proved the U.S. wanted to occupy & colonialize VN.

    4. Southeast Asia News

      Ethnic differences, not so much. Cultural differences, yes.The involvement of the Hoa Hao and Cao Dia is informative. There were real cultural differences--the Vietnamese were not even in the Mekong Delta until the "nam tien" or "March South" in the 15th century when ethic Vietnamese overcame the Muslim Cham and the Khmer populations who controlled the area. This also led to a huge influx of Southern Chinese. While most of the occupants of the Mekong and South Vietnam were ethnically Vietnamese, just like those in the North, they were culturally different, much less in the Confucian cultural model of the North but more syncretic and more "metropolitan" in a way with Theravada and Taoist influences, and a more leisurely and individualistic culture due to easier agricultural traditions.

  15. Yoaly Rodriguez

    I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary, interviewing all parties involved was the best part for me. On the whole historically accurate and unbiased. Though I've seen it once, I would see it again.

  16. Tiernan

    Yeah SHOULD have done this, SHOULD have done that, but they didnt. You could also say they SHOULD have just nuked the kip.

  17. staszekgobi

    Tonkin bay was a lie, so this documentary is over for me, 9 min into the film.

    1. Southeast Asia News

      They do address Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the Pentagon Papers. Guess you had to watch more than the first 9 of 600 minutes to get where it was going.

  18. jx10

    Excellent doc. from Canada. Of course like many I enjoyed overall however I have to admit there is little criticism of President Johnson and his knowledge that this was a losing effort from the beginning.

    And speaking of the beginning. I would have to say the glaring omission that the Tonkin Bay incident was a premeditated excuse instigated by the USA is disappointing.

  19. Captain_Mannering01

    More than half million U.S troops and still eventually defeated by the Vietcong!

    1. Anthony Young

      They lost WAY more men than us. Our loss was a result of political failure. The USA could have won the war very quickly if we had invaded the north with troops. We should have invaded the north, and executed our bombing campaign much better. But again, this was all political. If our politicians had taken the leash off of our military, we would have mopped up the north in weeks. They were too worried about Russia and China entering into the ground war. That's why they did it, but in hind sight, it was a massive failure of policy, which unfortunately continues to this day.

    2. Me

      what was your business there in the first place. another example of why the world cant stand americans. why dont you impose your power on north korea and see what happens to your america thats right they would f%$%k you up.

    3. adilrye

      And...perhaps start war with the Soviet Union or China? How was that a "glaring failure" of policy? If the military just did what they wanted and invaded North Vietnam, they would have caused World War III. That's why they aren't doing what they want, they don't think politically, they apply their knowledge to situations caused by political decisions. If you don't understand the Cold War era and how stupid it would have been for the United States to invade the North, you need to get a better understanding of the 20th century.

      The only thing the US could have done was try and push the Viet Cong out of South Vietnam and secure it so that the North has less influence over the territory. Of course, this was impossible, because a lot of South Vietnamese hated the government, hated the United States and wanted to unite. So, it was a doomed war from the beginning.

    4. loufontinato

      Clearly you didn't watch the series. US and South Vietnamese forces killed 1.1 million North Vietnamese soldiers. US losses were 58,000. ARVN losses were 250,000. After the 1972 11-day Christmas bombing offensive the North Vietnamese were down to 60 SAM's and realized they had had enough and they signed the Treaty of Paris in January 1973. They returned American POW's. Thus US military power successfully accomplished its objective in the Second Indo-China War; that being to prevent the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam. North Vietnam failed to accomplish its objective; that being to conquer South Vietnam. So clearly the United States won the Second Indo-China War which ended in January 1973.

      After the Second Indo-China War ended traitorous Communist sympathizing American politicians from the Democrat Party conspired to undermine South Vietnam by passing legislation that would make it impossible for the United states to aid South Vietnam in the future. Once the North Vietnamese became aware that they would never face the prospect of being thrashed by American forces in a future war they set about rebuilding their army and after a two year rebuilding period they launched an invasion of regular army troops into South Vietnam thus initiating the Third Indo-China War.

      Without the promised American B-52 Bomber intervention and without US military materiel aid the South Vietnamese forces were routed by the NVA who for the first time were equipped with formations of Soviet built Tanks. The Third Indo-China war lasted for only a few months in 1975.

      The myth that the United States lost the so-called Vietnam War resulted from the perpetration of an Orwellian Big Lie by the traitorous Communist sympathizing left-wing American media. The left-wing media traitors were aided in this Big Lie by the traitorous Communist sympathizing left-wing American university establishment.

      The mechanism behind an Orwellian Big Lie is that you create such an outrageous lie that no reasonable person could conceive of someone having the audacity to propagate such a falsehood. The second link in the mechanism is to repeat the lie often enough that unsophisticated people come to believe it.

  20. James del Valle

    slow suffocation as torture, thats sick I knew the Americans did some nasty things but that has shocked me so much I don't think I will think in the same way about the USA again. USA is more evil than Nazi Germany without question.

    1. Anthony Young

      More evil than Nazi Germany?! You must be joking. I admit that my government has done some terrible things in the name of our people, but the Nazis targeted specific populations for extermination. Hitler and his henchmen believed in occult teachings that Aryan godmen came down from the sky and created the Aryan race. They eventually wanted to exterminate EVERYONE on earth who did not fit the state accepted image of the "perfect aryan man". Honestly, to say the usa is more evil than Nazi Germany is an extremely ignorant statement.

    2. David K

      Yoy are such a dumb ass, why dont you move ?

  21. eugler

    Nice doc, very informative and well presented. The fact that it from the 80s and therefore much closer to the Time Period of the Vietnam war makes it even more intriguing. Another great one Vlat

  22. Cody Gaisser

    I do think it was tasteless to lay into the soldiers themselves, although to be quite frank many of them were responsible for some very brutal and inhumane behavior. Many though were simply confused kids holding on for dear life. Governments don't really ask the public if it's okay to go to war. They don't clearly express the reasoning - in fact they light outright about it. In regards to Iraq, many Americans genuinely believed that Hussein was linked to Al Quaeda, had weapons of mass destruction, and was planning to attack the U.S. It wasn't until much American and Iraqi blood had been shed that the details surfaced, exposing this all as a sham. There are also cases where the war simply drags on for eternity with no end in sight or turns into a permanent occupation. I think, in these cases, it is our duty to rally for the return of our troops.

    1. Guest

      I think it should be our goal to not create troops.

    2. StillRV

      Az: I am sorry but that is just peacenik silliness. No nation without military strength has ever endured on this earth. Ever.

    3. Guest

      No nation with military strenght has ever been honest either. But you are right my peacenik silliness is a dream.

    4. adilrye

      Azilda, unless you have a military, you can never protect even the most peaceful society. Because threats come from the outside, the inside, from nature, from disease...simply put, you need a military.

    5. Guest

      It would appear this way!

    6. staszekgobi

      Costa Rica doesn't have any (military) neither do many other countries...why is that?

    7. adilrye

      Costa Rica still maintains a national police force that takes the role of the military. They still carry weapons, they still kill if necessary. They're basically a security force, if not a formal army.

      Irregardless, the state still monopolizes lethal force and the authority to exercise it.

    8. Jack1952

      I was draft eligible age at that time. Those of my parents age grew up during WW2. They viewed communism as the new Nazism. People my age couldn't understand their fear and they were absolutely shocked that we weren't.

  23. Bambi L

    This is one of the best and most in-depth documentaries on the Vietnam war I've ever seen, it really looks at the thing from all angles. Highly recommdended to those people who want to lay their educational foundation on this topic.

    1. Alan Dee

      Re: Looking at things from all angles.

      When civilian casualties are raised, how does one tackle this?

      The producers picked General Westmoreland's assurance that of all wars, this is the most humane. Serious attention has been given to avoiding civilian casualties. Mass aerial bombing is entirely consistent with this, provided one's mind is disciplined enough to accept official statements as truth.

      Now the documentary can return to the problem of how America is to win, despite the losses (to America). The bombing of Cambodia really takes the biscuit. It is summed up as a 'military disappointment'.

      Like Bambi, I also recommend this documentary - to anyone who takes an interest in how propaganda works in the free media. The producers are not conscious of this, and they are not being censored - they are just aware that this is to be sold to American networks. The propaganda is a byproduct, far more effective than actual censorship. Brilliant study material for those 'who want to lay their educational foundation on this topic'.

  24. StillRV

    War is wrong as a solution. It should be avoided at all costs. However the victim of protest is almost invariably the common soldier, as it was during Vietnam. I will always support the troops and all of their heroism. Because once you step off that boat or helicopter it is not about politics or power. It is about fighting for the lives of the men you serve with. The government never suffered for their sins in the 60s no matter what the protesters did. The ones who did suffer were the ones who came home to scorn and isolation. After a year of bloody hell and mental torture, To be called a baby killer or murdering dog of the man is unfathomable. Public consensus should be determined before war, not during. If we want to stop war we need it to stop before it happens otherwise we only punish our own brothers and sisters.

    1. Cody Gaisser

      I'm not sure there's any real weight behind the idea that protesting war results in the death of troops on the ground. War results in the death of troops AND civilians on the ground. If there weren't protests, politicians would never even both to stop wars at all. Oh wait, they don't anyway.

    2. Cody Gaisser

      I'm not sure there's any real weight behind the idea that protesting war results in the death of troops on the ground. War results in the death of troops AND civilians on the ground. If there weren't protests, politicians would never even both to stop wars at all. Oh wait, they don't anyway.

    3. StillRV

      I never meant to imply that the protests led to troop deaths on the ground. Just that their cold hearted reception of the troops afterward led to the persistent dehumanization and depression they suffered after the war. Put yourself in their shoes. You get drafted got to hell for a year, while you are away your girl hooks up with some slick dude in bellbottoms and a paisley shirt, you finally get home and you are spat on by your peers. You never declared war, it was never your choice. But you become the tangible target to the protesters. Yes I am sure some men lost it over there. I can't blame them. The vietcong were masters of psychological warfare. They would literally kill the man sleeping next to you and leave you alive. They knew that destroying the will to fight was their best weapon. After all of that madness who could swear beyond a doubt that they wouldn't shoot a civilian in the heat of the moment.

  25. Lary9

    I was in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam. I'm also a long time, active member of Veterans For Peace. VFP is a fairly radical, rowdy group of vets with a mission statement that comes right out and condemns war as a solution to any global problems...period! This documentary is very good. "Hearts and Minds" is the best I ever saw in terms of capturing the war on the home front. It was turbulent. Very intense...similar to today's protests of Afghanistan and Iraq but much bigger and more active... more vocal too. Another one called "Vietnam: A Television History" is the best accurate, no-spin history IMHO. Although the experience of that war left a profound impact upon everyone who was involved, I haven't really carried it around like some heavy load like some guys I've known who are stuck back in the mayhem.

    1. Irishkev

      As I type I am listening to the song "Universal Soldier". I wonder how many power junkies would go to war, or send their sons to war if strong, fit lads refused to go.

    2. Lary9

      As you may know, that happened in the late 60s. I chose to serve before I developed any real maturity or political consciousness. After I got home and was discharged, I was a participant in and eye witness to the power of "vox populi" when 'the people' coalesced around a strong, moral idea. Make no mistake, it took a while and some street-sweat but we stopped that war.
      (Also, I believe to this day that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. See: Top Documentary Films' "the-trials-of-henry-kissinger")

    3. Guest

      thanks Lary9
      Just finished watching Kenninger.
      He is a man who behind the american military strenght has pull the trigger on many.
      A venimous snake!

    4. Lary9

      YW, Azilda.

    5. Guest

      I am french, not sure what YW means.

    6. Lary9

      "You're welcome"

    7. Dean Edgington

      Hi Az, what is Kenninger? I'd like to watch that also ;-)

    8. Guest

      LOl....funny that it took a year to catch that typo... good on you



    9. Achems_Razor

      What is a Kessinger?? are you referring to Henry Kissinger?

    10. Guest

      i suspect i am, that typo was written a year ago...i seem to remember watching a doc about kissinger...otherwise Kenninger sure does not right a bell.

    11. adilrye

      The Vietnam War was a trans formative event...on the home front, I feel it completely changed the nature of American politics. It was opposition to this war that created this skepticism towards governments today. Fueled the counter culture movement. Virtually popularized the student protest, which is only now seeing a come back.

  26. Bjd Dt

    You have to also take in account that it was made in 1980 so much of the material was still not available and the cold war was still on. It gives a good view on some things but it really is not the best you can find on the war today.

  27. Eric_N

    Everything has a bias, the bias here is probably that this comes from a Canadian perspective and not an American one so certain points are stressed more than others, while some points may be left out.

    1. Rsuave0

      Canadians have an inferiority complex in the face of everything American, falsely believing that their unsolicited feedback and biases are of any importance to me, personally. Yes, this is my individual opinion; but I've had them around me to the point that I gag at the thought of hearing their idiotic opinions of our government. Let's arm the arrogant Quebequers with the big one and sic them on bastard sons and daughters of English Imperialism.

  28. dekay49

    This is nothing but pure propaganda crap. I watched the first eight minutes and when they brought up the Gulf of tonkin incident saying that the Vietnamese fired on U S ships that was enough for me. That is a proven out and out lie! In fact U S ships fired on them in an atttempt to draw them into battle and they never fired back. The so called Gulf of Tonkin Incident never happened. This kind of garbage should be burned. People need to learn real history instead of the swill that has been fed to us over the years.

    1. Wllliam Bell

      There is truth and lies in all records of all wars. Did you just arrive on the planet today?

  29. Sam Adams

    Great, started into this and my power went out about 3 hrs in :( Now I got to find where the heck I was at in the playlist again. It is an interesting series but I would recommend watching "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" here on TDF to give a second opinion of some of the things going on. Seems like it has a pretty biased view on some aspects of the Vietnam War.