Interviewed by Smithsonian Channel

A while back the folks at the Smithsonian Channel web site asked if they could have a quick Q&A with ol’ Murdoc. I agreed, and it was posted a couple of days ago. Check it out if interested.


  1. You have kind words for the Smithsonian’s Vietnam documentary. I’ve not seen it, what with my self-limiting to stuff I get out of my public library.

    I *do* have a beef with military documentaries in general: they are edited by people without a historian’s background. This goes as far back as WW2 propaganda films, Victory at Sea, and *anything* by the History Channel. I’ve seen endless films of Our Hero, taking off in his Dauntless, dive-bombing the enemy in his Corsair and then landing in his Helldiver — all in the same mission! Or those Jap dive-bombers over Pearl Harbor — clearly Dauntlesses, and obviously without bombs underneath!

    It’s as though only 100 clips were available in total, and people had to make the best of what they had, regardless of the fighting theatre. Bah! I don’t watch them anymore.

  2. Jerome: Yah. It’s sometimes pretty tough to take and spoils the whole thing.

    The Vietnam Wall documentary I mentioned in the interview was more of a social documentary, not a military history, so those sorts of details weren’t an issue.

  3. Jerome,

    The Brits do a pretty good job at producing quality and authortative war documentaries. The mostly cover WW-I and WW-II, but on occassion they do others.

    The Brits seem to have a fascination with the two world wars. I guess that’s because they were a hell of a lot closer to the action than the American civilians.

  4. Toejam:
    Yes, I’ve seen the most part of the BBC’s Dunkirk miniseries. There are high production values there, and generally a good job. I had to fast-forward through parts because of not-fit-for-children language, and the battle bits were given short shrift (a lot of scenes of friendlies shooting, but not of a battle proper). The former is, I think, questionable. The latter is simply budgeting — a large battle scene is pricey. On the whole, a decent job. Perhaps I will look into what else the BBC has done.

  5. Good comments on the Vietnam Memorial. Ever encounter a convincing, non-BS reason for the counterintuitive way the names are presented? I mean, the Wall is shaped like a graph of American deaths in Vietnam — low when we went in, high in the middle, tapering off to the other end. Names are listed chronologically. So the obvious thing would be to start with the few early deaths at the left extremity, use the tall panels in the center for the high 1967-69 casualties, and taper off to 1975 on the right. Instead, they start with the earliest deaths in the middle of the monument, and let the high-casualty years wrap around the ends. It’s a violation of common sense that must have been deliberate. Any idea why it was done that way?

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