These days, it has become far more difficult to teach the history of America's war in Vietnam because one of the chief lessons of that war we thought we had learned ("No More Vietnams") has been soundly disproven in recent years.
One of the wildest black comedies ever made, 1964's Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb still stands today for its daring send-up of military and governmental leaders who take American us into nuclear war.
The Johnson administration was looking for a pretext to escalate the war. "We don't know what happened," National Security Adviser Walter W. Rostow told the president after Congress passed the resolution, "but it had the desired result."
A look at Vietnam today makes plain just how mistaken and tragic the American venture into war there was. First, though, a brief summary of how the decisive turn into that disastrous mistake a half century ago occurred.
We are in the midst of a bumper crop of bio-docs: documentaries focused on single figures who have wound up on the wrong side of history and who seemingly want the chance to get their side of the story on the record.
There are too many drumbeats building up behind some form of military action in Syria, and the tempo of those drums is reaching a nearly hysteric level. That incessant thundering drive is drowning out the public's sensible questions.
All this hoopla about the Department of Justice improperly obtaining two months of AP telephone records seems to me just as phony as Claude Rains' "I'm shocked, shocked" when he "discovers" gambling at Rick's Café in Cassablanca.
Because on the basis of the evidence presented at trial and the evidence that was not allowed to be presented at trial, Errol Morris does not believe that Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty. If you followed this case, you know different.
It wasn't the mutants. It was humans that caused the Cuban Missile Crisis. Only luck saved us from nuclear war. But other than that, the new film, X-Men: First Class, gets a lot right about the historic crisis that is central to its plot.
The play Top Secret centers on whether Katherine Graham will give approval to print the Pentagon Papers. For those unfamiliar with the history, it opens a door to understanding concerns of utmost relevance today.
The most risible language contortions this side of Dick Cheney's tortured definitions of "torture" surround mavericky Sarah Palin, whose regular butchering of the English language rivals that of George W. Bush.