1968: The year that changed the world?

1968: The year that changed the world?


Download or subscribe to this programme's podcast.

The hand of a visitor to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall

In this four part series, using archive recordings and music from the time, Sir John Tusa examines what made 1968 such a climactic year.

Student protests, Soviet might, assassinations, war and famine - although these dramatic events took place more than a generation ago they seem incredibly immediate and astonishingly relevant today.

Recapturing those events through the voices of those who made them, Sir John investigates if 1968 really did change the world.

Programme One - The American Election and Vietnam

If the events of 1968 turned on one focal point it was the American war against the North Vietnamese communists.

With half a million US troops in Vietnam, how could they lose?

America thought they were invincible as they had never lost a war, yet their defeat was played out on national television.

By the end of 1968 around 15,000 US servicemen had lost their lives - it was the worst year and it was far from over.

Race relations, justice and the war filled people with anger and they demonstarted across the world in their thousands.

Sir John tells how the public lost faith in the war effort, how President Johnson declared he would not run for a second term and how the charismatic champion Bobby Kennedy was shot dead.

As riots filled the streets of Chicago and the Democratic Party turned itself inside out, the Republican candidate Richard Nixon went on to be elected President.

In 1968, the Vietnam War broke a president, divided the nation, split the democrats, divided generations and left US prestige in tatters.

Join Sir John on this historic journey through a year which defines the world we live in today.

You can share your memories of 1968 with other BBC listeners here.

This series was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and aired on BBC World Service on 1st December 2008.

Terms of Use

The BBC Podcasts are for your personal non-commercial use only.

All title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the BBC Podcasts shall remain the property of the BBC or third parties.

You may not edit, alter, adapt or add to the BBC Podcast in any way. The BBC Podcasts are made available by the BBC on an "as is" and "as available" basis and the BBC gives no warranty of any kind in relation to the BBC Podcast.

To the maximum extent permitted by law the BBC will not be liable for any loss or damage which you may suffer as a result of or connected to the download or use of the BBC Podcasts.

See the full BBC Podcast: Standard Licence Terms here.