Loosely based on the best-selling book Tour of Duty
by Douglas Brinkley, Going Upriver
examines the story of John Kerry
and the key events that made him a national figure. The film places particular emphasis on his involvement in the Vietnam War and his opposition to the war upon his return.
The film traces Kerry's early life as a young man who chooses to enlist in the Navy and to go to Vietnam. Intimate, first person accounts of Kerry's war service through his own private letters are revealed alongside his journal entries and the memories of the men who served at his side. When Kerry came home disillusioned by the war, he and his fellow Vietnam veterans challenged Congress and the Nixon administration. As Kerry became a nationally-known anti-war activist, the White House plotted to discredit his leadership, but significantly could find "nothing on him," as revealed via Watergate tapes. Despite Nixon's attempt to undermine John Kerry's political career, Kerry persevered, eventually winning election to the Senate and receiving the Democratic nomination for president in 2004.