Series Blog

Archive for New Films

Vietnam: 40 Years On


Forty years after the fall of Saigon, debate continues concerning the reality on the ground in Vietnam in 1975. Below are two varying accounts written by Jim Laurie and Stuart Herrington, both of whom were in Saigon in April 1975. At the time, Laurie was a reporter for NBC News, and Herrington was a captain in the U.S. Army. Both men were interviewed for and appear in the film Last Days in Vietnam, which played in theaters nationwide in 2014 before premiering on PBS April 28, 2015. Read both posts here


The Worldwide TB Epidemic


The move to suburban living and the development of active public health programs have reduced the burden of tuberculosis -- a serious, sometimes fatal infectious disease of the lungs -- in many affluent countries. Many of us, however are not so lucky and are still faced with the ugly specter of TB which was so eloquently portrayed in the recent American Experience documentary, The Forgotten Plague.

Why is the “Forgotten Plague” still such a threat outside of the US and Europe? Read more...


The Fire of 1910 - Why It Still Matters


Never in recorded United States history has there been anything to match the fire of 1910. For its size, its ferocity, its impact, nothing comes close. Over the course of a weekend, 3 million acres were burned -- an area equal to the size of Connecticut. Several towns were leveled, and about 100 people were killed, as well.

But beyond the astonishing numbers about timber blown down in hurricane force winds, and temperatures at the peak of the firestorm touching 2,000 degrees, the fire stands out for another reason. As a nation, the United States had never tried to organize a large force to fight a wildfire. It was done in 1910, and the lessons, and consequences, are with us still.

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Inventing a Light Bulb, Innovating an Electrical System: Thomas Edison and the Transformation of Invention


The name Thomas Edison has become synonymous with invention and his most famous invention, the electric light bulb, has become a familiar symbol for that flash of inspired genius traditionally associated with invention. In part the light bulb's symbolic value comes from its obvious role as a visual metaphor of the "bright idea." But this symbolism also arises from its association with Thomas Edison -- the electric light as the greatest invention of the world's greatest inventor. The "electric light," however, was no single invention emanating from an inspired genius. Instead it was a complex network of inventions produced by teams of researchers working under his direction in the world’s first true invention laboratory. As he invented the system of electric lighting, Edison simultaneously reinvented the system of invention.

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My Journey to America


On October 3rd, 2014, my children and I went to the Michigan Theater to watch Last Days In Vietnam, a film directed by Rory Kennedy, who is the youngest daughter of Robert Kennedy.  This documentary meticulously covers the stressful events that led to the 1975 evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Through never before seen footage of intense interviews with U.S. servicemen and Vietnamese civilians, Ms. Kennedy brings their story to life with unprecedented detail.

Binh attended a screening of Last Days in Vietnam in the fall of 2014. After seeing herself and her family in the documentary, she contacted American Experience to share her story. She asked that we only use her first name for this post.  


Last Days in Vietnam Receives Academy Award® Nomination


American Experience announced today that its production Last Days in Vietnam, directed and produced by Rory Kennedy, has been nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature. This is Ms. Kennedy’s first Academy Award® nomination, and the ninth for the series.