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via 'The Vietnam War'

"The Vietnam War," a 10-part, 18-hour documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, premieres on PBS on Sunday, Sept. 17. Watch the trailer. Two great preview pieces that are worthy of your time:

"Ken Burns's American Canon: Even in a fractious era, the filmmaker still believes that his documentaries can bring every viewer in," by The New Yorker's Ian Parker:

There are more Vietnamese voices in "The Vietnam War" than Burns at first thought necessary. ... It has animated three-dimensional maps and foreign-language interviews. There's rock music, as well as a score commissioned from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; Erik Ewers, a longtime editor at Florentine, who has worked on dozens of hours of film chivvied along by ragtime and bluegrass, told me, with feeling, that the opportunity to use "Dazed and Confused," by Led Zeppelin, was "a dream come true."

The film includes striking sequences in which well-known black-and-white photographs, always central to Burns's work, coëxist with color film and color photography. The subject, being recent and contested—and its traumas sometimes evident in the stiffness around the mouths of witnesses—has its own narrative potency. ... Still, when the narration begins, its liturgical phrasing, and its reach for a negotiated settlement among viewers, will seem familiar.

Savor the whole thing.

In "Ken Burns Tackles a Different Civil War," N.Y. Times ideas reporter Jennifer Schuessler says the film "offers an uncannily well-timed reflection of our current societal fractures — a kind of origin story for the culture wars."

  • "The $30 million film, more than 10 years in the making, offers an intensely immersive, often head-spinning history lesson, combining grand sweep and archival depth with sometimes devastatingly emotional first-person interviews with people from all sides (including more than two dozen Vietnamese, from both the winning and losing sides)."
  • "There are scenes covering 25 battles, 10 of which are examined from multiple perspectives."
  • "Every word of the script, written by the historian Geoffrey C. Ward, was carefully weighed. And perhaps none were as carefully debated as that opening narration, which describes the war as ending in 'failure' (not 'defeat,' Mr. Burns noted, though he used the word himself). 'I think we probably spent six months on the word 'failure.'"
  • "As for 'begun in good faith,' Mr. Burns said he stands by those words, which he said reflect the intentions of those who fought the war, even if they are perhaps 'too generous' to our leaders."
  • Worth the click: "Shot by Shot: Building a Scene in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's Vietnam Epic."

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

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