Back Ken Burns cites LOA’s Reporting Vietnam as “go-to source” for his new film
U.S. Army Bell UH-1D helicopters airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, northeast of Cu Chi, South Vietnam, 1966. (James K. F. Dung, SFC/National Archives and Records Administration; public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Nineteen years after it was first published, Library of America’s two-volume anthology Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959–1975 is enjoying renewed visibility thanks to director Ken Burns’s 18-hour documentary The Vietnam War, airing this month on PBS.

As Burns recently indicated on Twitter, he and his collaborators—co-director Lynn Novick and writer Geoffrey C. Ward—relied extensively on Reporting Vietnam in preparing the film:

Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959–1975 brings together original newspaper and magazine reports and contemporary books by more than eighty writers to create a mosaic of the war and its impact on an increasingly fractured American society. The first volume traces the deepening American involvement in South Vietnam from the first deaths of American advisers in 1959 through the controversial battle of “Hamburger Hill” in 1969; the second, events from the revelation of the My Lai massacre in 1969 through the fall of Saigon in 1975. Both books are now available as a set, at a special sale price.

Library of America’s coverage of Vietnam-era America doesn’t end there, however. For more perspectives on this tumultuous period, readers are encouraged to consider the following offerings in fiction, memoir, essay, and poetry:

• Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral, which depicts the devastating effects of “the war at home” on a single New Jersey family;

• W. S. Merwin’s 1967 volume of poems The Lice, which Dan Chiasson recently called “one of the indelible books about the war” in The New Yorker;

• From the memoir Thud Ridge, fighter pilot Jack Broughton’s description of being hit by a surface-to-air missile on a mission over North Vietnam;

• Susan Sontag’s “Trip to Hanoi,” her controversial account of a trip to the North Vietnamese capital at the war’s height;

• Numerous dispatches from the front lines of the antiwar movement in War No More: Four Centuries of American Peace Writing.

War No More includes an excerpt from Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night, his classic “nonfiction novel” about the October 1967 march on the Pentagon. Library of America will publish the complete Armies of the Night in February 2018, as part of Norman Mailer: Four Books of the 1960s.

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From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

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