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This Is What We Do (July-December 1967) 

As casualties mount on both sides, American soldiers face deadly ambushes and artillery. President Lyndon B. Johnson assures the American public that victory is within reach.


Ken Burns, Lynn Novick

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Episode credited cast:
Peter Coyote ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
David Brinkley ... Himself - NBC News (archive footage)
Ellsworth Bunker Ellsworth Bunker ... Himself - U.S. Ambassador (archive footage)
Rion Causey Rion Causey ... Himself - Tiger Force Medic
Clark Clifford Clark Clifford ... Himself - United States New Secretary of Defense (archive footage)
Walter Cronkite ... Himself - Anchorman CBS (archive footage)
Le Duan Le Duan ... Himself - New Leader of N. Vietnam (archive footage)
Huy Duc Huy Duc ... Himself - N. Vietnam
James Gavin James Gavin ... Himself - U.S. Lieutenant-General (archive footage)
Leslie Gelb Leslie Gelb ... Himself - Pentagon
Roger Harris Roger Harris ... Himself - Marines
Matt Harrison Matt Harrison ... Himself - Army
Chi Minh Ho Chi Minh Ho ... Himself - Leader of Viet Cong (archive footage)
Eva Jefferson Paterson Eva Jefferson Paterson ... Herself - Illinois
Lyndon B. Johnson ... Himself - President of the USA (archive footage) (as Lyndon Johnson)


As casualties mount on both sides, American soldiers face deadly ambushes and artillery. President Lyndon B. Johnson assures the American public that victory is within reach.

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English | Vietnamese

Release Date:

21 September 2017 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

30 September 2017 | by cordenwSee all my reviews

Let's do the math, that's what Mcnamara and his team boiled it all down to after all.

500,000 Troops all getting paid a salary, say averaging out to ten thousand a year back in those days, or two hundred bucks a week.

Ten Million a week

That's before you start feeding them and clothing them. Then you have the cost of moving them around, the cost of the artillery, ammunition, bombs and fuel. Then the cost of the backroom administration, then the cost of the destroyed airplanes, helicopters , tanks and vehicles.

The checks got signed without a question!

How all that money could have filled the potholes on the road to the American Dream,instead of destroying jungle paths in a far off country.

Number of people who were killed? Not in the equation, just send more 'cos they aren't in the cost analysis.

Meantimes you let your major cities fall into decay, turn your face away from abject poverty in your own back yard.

You cut back on social infrastructure improvements and programs and set the National Guard and cops on your own citizens.

You couldn't dream up a better recipe for catastrophe and yet that's what we had.

This episode shows why successful businessmen rarely make successful politicians, they think everything can be boiled down to dollars,cents and efficiency.

It's fair to say that Mcnamara expressed his doubts about an eventual victory but there's also no escaping the fact that he was complicit in keeping it secret from the general public.

I lived in England when all of this was happening and for us it just seemed like a minor irritant for the US, the British were preoccupied with their own social upheavals so we didn't really get much coverage.

As these documentaries unfold I find myself amazed at our ignorance and doubly amazed at the downright stupidity of the successive governments in dealing with the problem. If newly elected politicians couldn't get out then you have to ask some serious questions about the tactical qualifications of the permanent military commanders.

Harry Truman had a great quote about Military Generals when he fired McArthur. I'm paraphrasing but it went something like this

"I didn't fire him because he was stupid , because if that was the reason I'd have to fire half the Generals in the Military, I fired him because he disobeyed orders"

It's going to take someone with a granite will to get us out of this mess and it will be interesting to see who gets the credit in the final chapters of this series.

As for me I'm so stunned at the unbelievable levels of waste, pointless missions, carnage and ineptitude at the command level. I have never said this before , but I'm glad I lived in England when all this was going on.

I'll be an even worse cynic when this is through

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