In this sympathetic history of a maligned decade, Marty Jezer, a fellow antiwar activist, details Abbie Hoffman's humor, manic energy, depressive spells, political skills, & above all, his incurable & still contagious optimism. He presents a thoughtful, solidly researched biography of the wildly creative & iconoclastic Yippie, portraying Hoffman as a fresh force in American political culture. Jezer surveys in detail the politics, philosophies, & struggles of the antiwar movement.
"... Abbie, more than any other radical, showed potheads how to demonstrate and radicals how to dance." -- Chicago Tribune
"... deeply sympathetic and scrupulously detached-a triumph of judicious empathy." -- MARTIN DUBERMAN, Distinguished Professor of History, Lehman/The Graduate School, C.U.N.Y.
"... details Hoffman's humor, manic energy, depressive spells, political skills, and above all, his Incurable and still contagious optimism." -- Entertainment Weekly
"Here's the Abbie I knew and loved! Marty Jezer has captured him in all his complexity, dedication, humor, and heart." -- ANITA HOFFMAN
After more than four decades, the Viet Nam War continues to haunt our national memory, culture, politics, and military actions. In this probing interdisciplinary study, Susan Lyn Eastman examines a range of cultural productions—from memorials and poetry to cinematic and fictional narratives—that have tried to grapple with the psychic afterlife of traumatic violence resulting from the ill-fated conflict in Southeast Asia.
Underpinning the book is the notion of “prosthetic memory,” which involves memories acquired by those with no direct experience of the war, such as readers and filmgoers. Prosthetic memories, Eastman argues, refuse to relegate the war to the forgotten past and challenge the authenticity of experience, thus ensuring its continued relevance to debates over America’s self-conception, specifically her coinage of the “New Vietnam Syndrome,” and the country’s role in world affairs when it comes to contemporary military interventions.
With the notable exception of the Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, Eastman’s focus is on works produced from the Persian Gulf War (1990–91) through the post-9/11 “War on Terror.” She looks not only at American representations of the war—from movies like Randall Wallace’s We Were Soldiers to poems by W. D. Ehrhart, Yusef Komunyakaa, and others—but also at novels by Vietnamese authors Bao Ninh and Huong Thu Duong. The experiences of women figure prominently in the book: Eastman devotes a chapter to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and another to Sandie Frazier’s novel I Married Vietnam and Oliver Stone’s film Heaven and Earth, based on memoirs by Le Ly Hayslip. And by examining Jessica Hagedorn’s Dream Jungle, a novel inspired by the filming of Apocalypse Now, she considers how the war’s repercussions were felt in other countries, in this case the Philippines. Her investigation of Vietnamese American authors Lan Cao, Andrew Lam, and GB Tran adds a transnational dimension to the study.
With its up-to-date perspective on recent works that have heretofore received scant critical notice, this book offers new ways of thinking about one of the most polemic chapters in U.S. history.
SUSAN LYN EASTMAN teaches in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
America’s Miracle Man in Vietnam rethinks the motivations behind one of the most ruinous foreign-policy decisions of the postwar era: America’s commitment to preserve an independent South Vietnam under the premiership of Ngo Dinh Diem. The so-called Diem experiment is usually ascribed to U.S. anticommunism and an absence of other candidates for South Vietnam’s highest office. Challenging those explanations, Seth Jacobs utilizes religion and race as categories of analysis to argue that the alliance with Diem cannot be understood apart from America’s mid-century religious revival and policymakers’ perceptions of Asians. Jacobs contends that Diem’s Catholicism and the extent to which he violated American notions of “Oriental” passivity and moral laxity made him a more attractive ally to Washington than many non-Christian South Vietnamese with greater administrative experience and popular support.
A diplomatic and cultural history, America’s Miracle Man in Vietnam draws on government archives, presidential libraries, private papers, novels, newspapers, magazines, movies, and television and radio broadcasts. Jacobs shows in detail how, in the 1950s, U.S. policymakers conceived of Cold War anticommunism as a crusade in which Americans needed to combine with fellow Judeo-Christians against an adversary dangerous as much for its atheism as for its military might. He describes how racist assumptions that Asians were culturally unready for democratic self-government predisposed Americans to excuse Diem’s dictatorship as necessary in “the Orient.” By focusing attention on the role of American religious and racial ideologies, Jacobs makes a crucial contribution to our understanding of the disastrous commitment of the United States to “sink or swim with Ngo Dinh Diem.”
Between a River and a Mountain details American labor's surprisingly complex relationship to the American war in Vietnam. Breaking from the simplistic story of "hard hat patriotism," Wehrle uses newly released archival material to demonstrate the AFL-CIO's continuing dedication to social, political, and economic reform in Vietnam. The complex, sometimes turbulent, relationship between American union leaders and their counterparts in the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor (known as the CVT) led to dangerous political compromises: the AFL-CIO eventually accepted much-needed support for their Vietnamese activities from the CIA, while the CVT's need to sustain their relationship with the Americans lured them into entanglements with a succession of corrupt Saigon governments. Although the story's endpoint--the painfully divided and weakened labor movement of the 1970s--may be familiar, Wehrle offers an entirely new understanding of the historical forces leading up to that decline, unraveling his story with considerable sophistication and narrative skill.
"Stunning in its research and sophisticated in its analysis, Between a River and a Mountain is one of the best studies we have of labor and the Vietnam War."
--Robert K. Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College
"Skillfully blending diplomatic and labor history, Wehrle's book is a valuable contribution to the ever-widening literature on the Vietnam War."
--George Herring, University of Kentucky
"Wehrle has written a compelling and original study of the AFL-CIO, the South Vietnamese labor movement and the Vietnam War."
--Judith Stein, Professor of History, City College and Graduate School of the City University of New York
"With this important book, Edmund Wehrle gives us the first full-fledged scholarly examination of organized labor's relationship to the Vietnam War. Based on deep research in U.S. and foreign archives, and presented in clear and graceful prose, Between a River and a Mountain adds a great deal to our understanding of how the AFL-CIO approached the war and in turn was fundamentally altered by its staunch support for Americanization. Nor is it merely an American story that Wehrle tells, for he also presents fascinating information on the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor and its sometimes-strained relations with U.S. labor."
--Fredrik Logevall, Cornell University
Edmund F. Wehrle is Assistant Professor of History, Eastern Illinois University.
The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out—with military precision—an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Returning to an America ripped apart by a war that, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and giving birth to future recruits.
Belew’s disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.
Con Thienis a memoir/history of a much-beleaguered Marine outpost of the DMZ
Throughout much of 1967, a remote United States Marine firebase only two miles from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) captured the attention of the world’s media. That artillery-scarred outpost was the linchpin of the so-called McNamara Line intended to deter incursions into South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese Army. As such, the fighting along this territory was particularly intense and bloody, and the body count rose daily.
Con Thien combines James P. Coan’s personal experiences with information taken from archives, interviews with battle participants, and official documents to construct a powerful story of the daily life and combat on the red clay bulls-eye known as "The Hill of Angels." As a tank platoon leader in Alpha Company, 3d Tank Battalion, 3d Marine Division, Coan was stationed at Con Thien for eight months during his 1967-68 service in Vietnam and witnessed much of the carnage.
Con Thien was heavily bombarded by enemy artillery with impunity because it was located in politically sensitive territory and the U.S. government would not permit direct armed response from Marine tanks. Coan, like many other soldiers, began to feel as though the government was as much the enemy as the NVA, yet he continued to fight for his country with all that he had. In his riveting memoir, Coan depicts the hardships of life in the DMZ and the ineffectiveness of much of the U.S. military effort in Vietnam.
The sixth and final volume in the History of Wisconsin series examines the period from 1940-1965, in which state and nation struggled to maintain balance and traditions. Some of the major developments analyzed in this volume include: coping with three wars, racial and societal conflict, technological innovation, population shifts to and from cities and suburbs, and accompanying stress in politics, government, and society as a whole. Using dozens of photographs to visually illustrate this period in the state's history, this volume upholds the high standards set forth in the previous volumes.
This is a study of media and cultural artifacts that constitute the remembrance of a tragic war as reflected in the stories of eight people who lived it. Using memoir, history, and criticism, Crossing the Street in Hanoi is based on scholarly research, teaching, and writing as well as extensive personal journals, interviews, and exclusive primary source material. Each chapter uses a human story to frame an exploration in media and cultural criticism. What weaves these different threads into a whole cloth are the stories of the Vietnam War and the long shadow it casts over American and Vietnamese cultures.
These are tales of what it was like for young men to go from the bucolic hills of New Hampshire to a land wracked by war and violence. The result is a collection of more than fifty accounts, showing the variety of experiences and reactions to this dramatic period in American history. Some soldiers were drafted, some volunteered; some supported the war, but many turned against it. Common to all the stories is the way in which war changes men, for good and ill, and the way in which the Vietnam experience colored so much of the rest of these writers’ lives.
Examines the domestic and international use of phenoxy herbicides by the United States in the mid-twentieth century
In The Defoliation of America: Agent Orange Chemicals, Citizens, and Protests, Amy M. Hay profiles the attitudes, understandings, and motivations of grassroots activists who rose to fight the use of phenoxy herbicides, or Agent Orange chemicals as they are commonly known, in various aspects of American life during the post-WWII era. Hay focuses her analysis on citizen responses to illuminate how regulatory policies were understood, challenged, and negotiated, contributing to a growing body of research on chemical regulatory policies, risk society, and hazardous chemicals. This volume uncovers new understandings about the authority of the state and its obligation to society, the role of scientific authority and expertise, and the protests made by various groups of citizens.
First introduced in 1946, phenoxy herbicides mimic hormones in broadleaf plants, causing them to “grow to death” while grass, grains, and other monocots remain unaffected. By the 1950s, millions of pounds of these chemicals were produced annually for use in brush control, weed eradication, forest management, and other agricultural applications. Pockets of skepticism and resistance began to appear by the late 1950s, and the trend intensified after 1962 when Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring directed mainstream attention to the harm modern chemicals were causing in the natural world. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War, however, when nearly 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and related herbicides were sprayed to clear the canopy and destroy crops in Southeast Asia, that the long-term damage associated with this group of chemicals began to attract widespread attention and alarm.
Using a wide array of sources and an interdisciplinary approach, Hay contributes to the robust fields of chemical toxicity, regulation, environmental management, and public health. This study of the scientists, health and environmental activists, and veterans who fought US chemical regulatory policies and practices reveals the mechanisms, obligations, and constraints of state and scientific authority in mid-twentieth-century America. Hay also shows how these disparate and mostly forgotten citizen groups challenged the political consensus and contested government and industry narratives of chemical safety.
"It was dawn before I fell asleep, and later in the morning I was only half-awake as I fed a fresh sheet of paper into the typewriter and began to copy the notes from the previous day out of my book. But I wasn't too weary to type the date line firmly as if I'd been writing date lines all my life: from the front at iwo jima march 5--
Then I remembered and added two words. under fire--
They looked great."
In 1965, Wisconsin native Georgette "Dickey" Chapelle became the first female American war correspondent to be killed in action. Now, "Dickey Chapelle Under Fire" shares her remarkable story and offers readers the chance to experience Dickey's wide-ranging photography, including several photographs taken during her final patrol in Vietnam.
Dickey Chapelle fought to be taken seriously as a war correspondent and broke down gender barriers for future generations of female journalists. She embedded herself with military units on front lines around the globe, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. Dickey sometimes risked her life to tell the story--after smuggling aid to refugees fleeing Hungary, she spent almost two months in a Hungarian prison. For twenty-five years, Dickey's photographs graced the pages of "National Geographic," the "National Observer," "Life," and others. Her tenacity, courage, and compassion shine through in her work, highlighting the human impact of war while telling the bigger story beyond the battlefield.
In "Dickey Chapelle Under Fire," the American public can see the world through Dickey's lens for the first time in almost fifty years, with a foreword by Jackie Spinner, former war correspondent for "The Washington Post."
Much has been written about America’s war in Vietnam, and an enduring and troubling subtext is the composition of the body of soldiers that made up the U.S. troop deployment: from the initially well-trained and disciplined group of largely elite units that served in the mid-sixties to what has been termed an “armed mob” by the end of that decade and into the early 1970s. Drug use, insubordination, racial antagonism that often became violent, theft and black market dealing, and even “fragging” (murder of officers and senior noncoms by disgruntled troops) marred the record of the U.S. military presence. Don Griffis served in the twin roles of legal officer charged at various times with the task of both defending and prosecuting servicemen, while at the same time leading combat patrols in “search and destroy” missions against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemy. Eagle Days is a remarkable account of Griffis’ personal record of experiencing what the military should do best—meet, engage, and defeat the enemy—and what it becomes when esprit de corps, discipline, and a sense of purpose decay.
How did the conflict between Vietnamese nationalists and French colonial rulers erupt into a major Cold War struggle between communism and Western liberalism? To understand the course of the Vietnam wars, it is essential to explore the connections between events within Vietnam and global geopolitical currents in the decade after the Second World War.
In this illuminating work, leading scholars examine various dimensions of the struggle between France and Vietnamese revolutionaries that began in 1945 and reached its climax at Dien Bien Phu. Several essays break new ground in the study of the Vietnamese revolution and the establishment of the political and military apparatus that successfully challenged both France and the United States. Other essays explore the roles of China, France, Great Britain, and the United States, all of which contributed to the transformation of the conflict from a colonial skirmish to a Cold War crisis.
Taken together, the essays enable us to understand the origins of the later American war in Indochina by positioning Vietnam at the center of the grand clash between East and West and North and South in the middle years of the twentieth century.
A Personal Reflection of a Frontline Soldier in Vietnam and Cambodia During the Cultural Maelstrom of the 1960s
In late 1969, twenty-year-old Robert Sweatmon received a letter informing him that he had ten days to report to the United States Army. Like thousands of others, he had been drafted. Assigned as a rifleman with a mechanized unit, the author began a year-long odyssey in the Southeast Asian wilderness that would change his and his fellow soldiers’ lives forever.
Taking its title from the nighttime radio code call and response between base camp and those on ambush patrol, Five Four Whiskey: A Memory of War is a moving account of life as a combat soldier in the Vietnam War. Set mostly in the sprawling woods and rubber plantations northwest of Saigon, the author explains what his unit was asked to do and what obstacles they faced, including an elusive but deadly enemy, multiple kinds of booby traps, and antitank mines. The author, a notable television personality following the war, does not sensationalize his account; rather, his book allows a new generation to understand the emotional and physical pressures of the times. Coming of age in the maelstrom of civil rights and the free love culture, the author and his fellow soldiers saw their idealism quickly vaporize in the face of the grim realities of war. Here they learned to compartmentalize their lives as a way to survive, but it was their strong bonds that ultimately kept them from succumbing to the madness that surrounded them. Kept in the field for almost the entire time of his tour, the author was in a unit selected to conduct a clandestine reconnaissance in Cambodia and then lead the 1970 invasion, where he was wounded. Following his convalescence, he was sent to Nui Ba Den, the fabled ghost mountain haunted by the spirit of a Vietnamese princess, until he received his papers that he had completed his combat service. At that moment, his year-long mental wall between soldier and civilian fell away as he counted the last terrifying hours before he was safely out of Vietnam. A tour-de-force of military memoir, written in an objective and often literary prose, Five Four Whiskey perfectly captures how ordinary civilian-soldiers survived an ordeal set in one of the most turbulent times in American history.
Four decades after its end, the American war in Vietnam still haunts the nation's collective memory. Its lessons, real and imagined, continue to shape government policies and military strategies, while the divisions it spawned infect domestic politics and fuel the so-called culture wars. In Forever Vietnam, David Kieran shows how the contested memory of the Vietnam War has affected the commemoration of other events, and how those acts of remembrance have influenced postwar debates over the conduct and consequences of American foreign policy.
Kieran focuses his analysis on the recent remembrance of six events, three of which occurred before the Vietnam War and three after it ended. The first group includes the siege of the Alamo in 1836, the incarceration of Union troops at Andersonville during the Civil War, and the experience of American combat troops during World War II. The second comprises the 1993 U.S. intervention in Somalia, the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
In each case a range of actors—military veterans, policymakers, memorial planners, and the general public—used memorial practices associated with the Vietnam War to reinterpret the contemporary significance of past events. A PBS program about Andersonville sought to cultivate a sense of national responsibility for the My Lai massacre. A group of Vietnam veterans occupied the Alamo in 1985, seeing themselves as patriotic heirs to another lost cause. A World War II veteran published a memoir in 1980 that reads like a narrative of combat in Vietnam. Through these and other examples, Forever Vietnam reveals not only the persistence of the past in public memory but also its malleability in the service of the political present.
In Four Decades On, historians, anthropologists, and literary critics examine the legacies of the Second Indochina War, or what most Americans call the Vietnam War, nearly forty years after the United States finally left Vietnam. They address matters such as the daunting tasks facing the Vietnamese at the war's end—including rebuilding a nation and consolidating a socialist revolution while fending off China and the Khmer Rouge—and "the Vietnam syndrome," the cynical, frustrated, and pessimistic sense that colored America's views of the rest of the world after its humiliating defeat in Vietnam. The contributors provide unexpected perspectives on Agent Orange, the POW/MIA controversies, the commercial trade relationship between the United States and Vietnam, and representations of the war and its aftermath produced by artists, particularly writers. They show how the war has continued to affect not only international relations but also the everyday lives of millions of people around the world. Most of the contributors take up matters in the United States, Vietnam, or both nations, while several utilize transnational analytic frameworks, recognizing that the war's legacies shape and are shaped by dynamics that transcend the two countries. Contributors. Alex Bloom, Diane Niblack Fox, H. Bruce Franklin, Walter Hixson, Heonik Kwon, Scott Laderman, Mariam B. Lam, Ngo Vinh Long, Edwin A. Martini, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Christina Schwenkel, Charles Waugh
This volume is about power. It is about the power to make war and to destroy lives. It is also about another kind of power-the power to make images that may distort, displace, and destroy knowledge of the times in which those lives were lived. Many of the nineteen essays gathered in this volume are about the interrelationships between these two types of power. They demonstrate, as well, yet another type of power, the power of critical thinking to challenge dangerous myths and to confront prevailing ideologies.
The title of this anthology calls attention to the process whereby aspects of the Vietnam War have been appropriated by the American cultural industry. Probing the large body of emotion-laden, controversial films, From Hanoi to Hollywood is concerned with the retelling of history and the retrospection that such a process involves. In this anthology, an awareness of film as a cultural artifact that molds beliefs and guides action is emphasized, an awareness that the contributors bring to a variety of films. Their essays span over one hundred documentary and fiction films, and include in-depth analyses of major commercial films, ranging from Apocalypse Now to Platoon, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Full Metal Jacket, and documentaries from In the Year of the Pig to Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.
The essays fin this volume deal with representations of the Vietnam war in documentary film and television reporting, examining the ways the power of film is used to deliver political messages. There are surprises here, new readings, and important insights on the ways we as a society have attempted to come to terms with the experiences of the Vietnam era. The book also contains two appendixes-a detailed chronology charting the relationship between major historical events and the release of American war films from 1954 through 1988, and a filmography listing information on over four hundred American and foreign films about the Vietnam War.
Lynda Van Devanter was the girl next door, the cheerleader who went to Catholic schools, enjoyed sports, and got along well with her four sisters and parents. After high school she attended nursing school and then did something that would shatter her secure world for the rest of her life: in 1969, she joined the army and was shipped to Vietnam. When she arrived in Vietnam her idealistic view of the war vanished quickly. She worked long and arduous hours in cramped, ill-equipped, understaffed operating rooms. She saw friends die. Witnessing a war close-up, operating on soldiers and civilians whose injuries were catastrophic, she found the very foundations of her thinking changing daily.
After one traumatic year, she came home, a Vietnam veteran. Coming home was nearly as devastating as the time she spent in Asia. Nothing was the same -- including Lynda herself. Viewed by many as a murderer instead of a healer, she felt isolated and angry. The anger turned to depression; like many other Vietnam veterans she suffered from delayed stress syndrome. Working in hospitals brought back chilling scenes of hopelessly wounded soldiers. A marriage ended in divorce. The war that was fought physically halfway around the world had become a personal, internal battle.
Home before Morning is the story of a woman whose courage, stamina, and personal history make this a compelling autobiography. It is also the saga of others who went to war to aid the wounded and came back wounded -- physically and emotionally -- themselves. And, it is the true story of one person's triumphs: her understanding of, and coming to terms with, her destiny.
By the time of the Vietnam War era, the “Mexican American Generation” had made tremendous progress both socially and politically. However, the number of Mexican Americans in comparison to the number of white prisoners of war (POWs) illustrated the significant discrimination and inequality the Chicano population faced in both military and civilian landscapes. Chicanos were disproportionately “grunts” (infantry), who were more likely to be killed when captured, while pilots and officers were more likely to be both white and held as POWs for negotiating purposes. A fascinating look at the Vietnam War era from a Chicano perspective, “I’m Not Gonna Die in this Damn Place”: Manliness, Identity, and Survival of the Mexican American Vietnam Prisoners of War gives voice to the Mexican American POWs. The stories of these men and their families provide insights to the Chicano Vietnam War experience, while also adding tremendously to the American POW story. This book is an important read for academics and military enthusiasts alike.
Trn Van Thuy is a celebrated Vietnamese filmmaker of more than twenty award-winning documentaries. A cameraman for the People's Army of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, he went on to achieve international fame as the director of films that address the human costs of the war and its aftermath.
Thuy's memoir, when published in Vietnam in 2013, immediately sold out. In this translation, English-language readers are now able to learn in rich detail about the life and work of this preeminent artist. Written in a gentle and charming style, the memoir is filled with reflections on war, peace, history, freedom of expression, and filmmaking. Thuy also offers a firsthand account of the war in Vietnam and its aftermath from a Vietnamese perspective, adding a dimension rarely encountered in English-language literature.
The Vietnam War (1964–1975) divided American society like no other war of the twentieth century, and some of the most memorable American art and art-related activism of the last fifty years protested U.S. involvement. At a time when Pop Art, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art dominated the American art world, individual artists and art collectives played a significant role in antiwar protest and inspired subsequent generations of artists. This significant story of engagement, which has never been covered in a book-length survey before, is the subject of Kill for Peace. Writing for both general and academic audiences, Matthew Israel recounts the major moments in the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement and describes artists’ individual and collective responses to them. He discusses major artists such as Leon Golub, Edward Kienholz, Martha Rosler, Peter Saul, Nancy Spero, and Robert Morris; artists’ groups including the Art Workers’ Coalition (AWC) and the Artists Protest Committee (APC); and iconic works of collective protest art such as AWC’s Q. And Babies? A. And Babies and APC’s The Artists Tower of Protest. Israel also formulates a typology of antiwar engagement, identifying and naming artists’ approaches to protest. These approaches range from extra-aesthetic actions—advertisements, strikes, walk-outs, and petitions without a visual aspect—to advance memorials, which were war memorials purposefully created before the war’s end that criticized both the war and the form and content of traditional war memorials.
More than forty years have passed since the official end of the Vietnam War, yet the war’s legacies endure. Its history and iconography still provide fodder for film and fiction, communities of war refugees have spawned a wide Vietnamese diaspora, and the United States military remains embroiled in unwinnable wars with eerie echoes of Vietnam.
Looking Back on the Vietnam War brings together scholars from a broad variety of disciplines, who offer fresh insights on the war’s psychological, economic, artistic, political, and environmental impacts. Each essay examines a different facet of the war, from its representation in Marvel comic books to the experiences of Vietnamese soldiers exposed to Agent Orange. By putting these pieces together, the contributors assemble an expansive yet nuanced composite portrait of the war and its global legacies.
Though they come from diverse scholarly backgrounds, ranging from anthropology to film studies, the contributors are united in their commitment to original research. Whether exploring rare archives or engaging in extensive interviews, they voice perspectives that have been excluded from standard historical accounts. Looking Back on the Vietnam War thus embarks on an interdisciplinary and international investigation to discover what we remember about the war, how we remember it, and why.
In May 1965, vice president Hubert Humphrey declared that “the Viet Cong has committed the most unbelievable acts of terrorism the world has ever known.” And throughout the long conflict in Vietnam, Americans similarly demonized the enemy fighters as reds, gooks, and fanatical killers. Offering a radically different view of these supposedly savage soldiers, Mekong Diaries presents never-before-published drawings, poems, letters, and oral histories by ten of the most celebrated Viet Cong war artists.
These guerrilla artists—some military officers and some civilians—lived clandestinely with the fighters, moving camp alongside them, going on reconnaissance missions, and carrying their sketchbooks, ink, and watercolors into combat. Trained by professors from the Hanoi Institute of Fine Arts who journeyed down the perilous Ho Chi Minh Trail to ensure a pictorial history of the war, they recorded battles and events from Operation Junction City to Khe Sanh to the Tet Offensive. They also sketched as the spirit moved them, rendering breathtaking landscapes, hut and bunker interiors, activities at base camps, troops on the move, portraits for the families of fallen soldiers, and the unimaginable devastation that the conflict left in its wake.
Their collective record—which Sherry Buchanan skillfully compiles here—is an extraordinary historical and artistic document of people at war. As such, it serves as a powerful response to the self-centeredness of American accounts of Vietnam, filling a profound gap in our national memory by taking us into the misunderstood worlds of those whom we once counted among our worst enemies.
Diem’s alliance with Washington has long been seen as a Cold War relationship gone bad, undone by either American arrogance or Diem’s stubbornness. Edward Miller argues that this misalliance was more than just a joint effort to contain communism. It was also a means for each side to shrewdly pursue its plans for nation building in South Vietnam.
It was an enigma of the Vietnam War: American troops kept killing the Viet Cong—and being killed in the process—and yet their ranks continued to grow. When CIA analyst Sam Adams uncovered documents suggesting a Viet Cong army more than twice as large as previously reckoned, another war erupted, this time within the ranks of America’s intelligence community. Although originally clandestine, this conflict involving the highest levels of the U.S. government burst into public view during the acrimonious lawsuit Westmoreland v. CBS. The central issue in the suit, as in the war itself, was the calamitous failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to ascertain the strength of the Viet Cong and get that information to troops in a timely fashion. The legacy of this failure—whether caused by institutional inertia, misguided politics, or individual hubris—haunts our nation. In the era of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, Sam Adams’ tireless crusade for “honest intelligence” resonates strongly today.
Nothing Ever Dies, Viet Thanh Nguyen writes. All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the bestselling novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both the Americans and the Vietnamese.
Today Vietnam is one of America’s strongest international partners, with a thriving economy and a population that welcomes American visitors. How that relationship was formed is a twenty-year story of daring diplomacy and a careful thawing of tensions between the two countries after a lengthy war that cost nearly 60,000 American and more than two million Vietnamese lives.
Ted Osius, former ambassador during the Obama administration, offers a vivid account, starting in the 1990s, of the various forms of diplomacy that made this reconciliation possible. He considers the leaders who put aside past traumas to work on creating a brighter future, including senators John McCain and John Kerry, two Vietnam veterans and ideological opponents who set aside their differences for a greater cause, and Pete Peterson—the former POW who became the first U.S. ambassador to a new Vietnam. Osius also draws upon his own experiences working first-hand with various Vietnamese leaders and traveling the country on bicycle to spotlight the ordinary Vietnamese people who have helped bring about their nation’s extraordinary renaissance.
With a foreword by former Secretary of State John Kerry, Nothing Is Impossible tells an inspiring story of how international diplomacy can create a better world.
In the summer of 1966, in the middle of the Vietnam War, eighty young volunteers arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina, from all over the Eastern United States. For the next eight weeks, as Platoon 1005, they endured one of the most intense basic training programs ever devised. Parris Island was not a place for idle conversation or social gatherings, and these men remained from start to finish almost complete strangers. Ehrhart did get to know one Marine, his bunkmate John Harris, who quietly shared his sweetheart's letters. He was a friend who died in Vietnam only a year later.
Twenty-seven years after basic training. Ehrhart began what became a five-year search for the men of his platoon. Who were these men alongside whom he trained? Why had they joined the Marines at a time when being sent to war and of the country that sent them to fight it? What does the Corps mean to them? What Ehrhart learned offers an extraordinary window into the complexities of the Vietnam Generation and the United States of America then and now.
Based on supporting materials from military records and family members as well as interviews -- some of which Ehrhart held in such active secondary roles as dairy farmhand, fishing companion, and impromptu guest at a family wedding -- this book records the more-than-30-year journey that each man took after his boot-camp graduation on August 12, 1966. Photos of the men, both then and now, accompany the profiles. Their stories are diverse, but as Ehrhart says, "It was, in short, history, and each of these men was and is a part of that history....There are, no doubt, scoundrels and liars and losers among these men, but as a group they have mostly impressed me with their decency and their loyalty and their hard work and their perseverance in the face of hardships and hurdles, the everyday obstacles that make ordinary lives extraordinary."
Praised and condemned for its aggressive coverage of the Vietnam War, the American press has been both commended for breaking public support and bringing the war to an end and accused of misrepresenting the nature and progress of the war. While in-depth combat coverage and the instantaneous power of television were used to challenge the war, Clarence R. Wyatt demonstrates that, more often than not, the press reported official information, statements, and views. Examining the relationship between the press and the government, Wyatt looks at how difficult it was to obtain information outside official briefings, what sort of professional constraints the press worked under, and what happened when reporters chose not to "get on the team."
"Wyatt makes the Diem period in Saigon come to life—the primitive communications, the police crackdowns, the quarrels within the news organizations between the pessimists in Saigon and the optimists in Washington and New York."—Peter Braestrup, Washington Times
"An important, readable study of the Vietnam press corps—the most maligned group of journalists in modern American history. Clarence Wyatt's insights and assessments are particularly valuable now that the media is rapidly growing in its influence on domestic and international affairs."—Peter Arnett, CNN foreign correspondent
For most Americans in the 1960s, Vietnam was a faraway land of which they had little or no knowledge. Yet soon, hundreds of thousands of young American men and women would find themselves on the other side of the globe, fighting—and, in many cases, living—with the Vietnamese people. To lessen the culture shock, the Department of Defense prepared A Pocket Guide to Vietnam, 1962, a remarkably compact and surprisingly timeless crash course in Vietnamese culture for visitors to this foreign land.
Republished by the Bodleian Library with original illustrations and a new foreword by Bruns Grayson, who served as a US Army captain in Vietnam, the Pocket Guide takes the reader on a need-to-know tour through the culture, customs, geography, and politics of Vietnam. Among the straightforward words of wisdom on offer are “Don’t think Americans know everything” and “You will fulfill your duty best by remembering at all times that you are in a land where dignity, restraint, and politeness are highly regarded.” The Pocket Guide was designed to instill in soldiers an understanding of and respect for the Vietnamese people—crucial to the success of the venture—and it therefore also sheds further light on the political aspirations of the time.
Famously controversial, the Vietnam War is among the defining conflicts of the latter half of the twentieth century and, as such, the key battles and strategies have been dealt with in considerable depth. But beyond these purely militaristic concerns are the everyday lives of the soldiers who served there. A behind-the-front-lines look at a wide range of social situations they might have encountered, the book makes for captivating reading for anyone interested in Vietnam and its cultural, social, political, and military history.
As America confronts an unpredictable war in Iraq, Randolph returns to an earlier conflict that severely tested our civilian and military leaders. In 1972, America sought to withdraw from Vietnam with its credibility intact, with Nixon and Kissinger hoping that gains on the battlefield would strengthen their position at the negotiating table.
Retired Captain Pao Yang was a Hmong airman trained by the U.S. Air Force and CIA to fly T-28D aircraft for the U.S. Secret War in Laos. However, his plane was shot down during a mission in June 1972. Yang survived, but enemy forces captured him and sent him to a POW camp in northeastern Laos. He remained imprisoned for four years after the United States withdrew from Vietnam because he fought on the American side of the war.
Prisoner of Wars shows the impact the U.S Secret War in Laos had on Hmong combatants and their families. Chia Vang uses oral histories thatpoignantly recount Yang’s story and the deeply personal struggles his loved ones—who feared he had died—experienced in both Southeast Asia and the United States. As Yang eventually rebuilt his life in America, he grappled with issues of freedom and trauma.
Yang’s life provides a unique lens through which to better understand the lasting impact of the wars in Southeast Asia and the diverse journeys that migrants from Asia made over the last two centuries. Prisoner of Wars makes visible an aspect of the collateral damage that has been left out of dominant Vietnam War narratives.
The decade following the American defeat in Vietnam has been filled with doubts about American politics and values, confusion over the lessons of the war, and anger about the physical and psychological suffering that occurred during the war as well as thereafter. In the years since the U.S. withdrawal, our need to make sense of Vietnam has prompted an outpouring of thinking and writing, from scholarly reappraisals of American foreign policy to highly personal accounts of participants. On the tenth anniversary of the final U. S. withdrawal, the Asia Society sponsored a conference on the Vietnam experience in American literature at which leading writers, critics, publishers, commentators, and academics wrestled with this phenomenon. Drawing on the synergy of this conference, Timothy J. Lomperis has produced an original work that focuses on the growing body of literature—including novels, personal accounts, and oral histories—which describes the experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam as well as the experience of veterans upon their return home.
The first book-length critical study of the black experience in the Vietnam War and its aftermath, this text interrogates the meaning of heroism based on models from African and African American expressive culture. It focuses on four novels: Captain Blackman (1972) by John A. Williams, Tragic Magic (1978) by Wesley Brown, Coming Home (1971) by George Davis, and De Mojo Blues (1985) by A. R. Flowers. Discussions of the novels are framed within the historical context of all wars prior to Vietnam in which Black Americans fought. The success or failure of the hero on his identity quest is predicated upon the extent to which he can reconnect with African or African American cultural memory. He is engaged therefore in “re-membering,” a term laden with the specificity of race that implies a cultural history comprised of African retentions and an interdependent relationship with the community for survival. The reader will find that a common history of racism and exploitation that African Americans and Vietnamese share sometimes results in the hero’s empathy with and compassion for the so-called enemy, a unique contribution of the black novelist to American war literature.
Search and Clear demonstrates that the seeds of war were implicit in American culture, distinguishes between literature spawned by Vietnam and that of other conflicts, reviews the literary merits of works both well and little known, and explores the assumptions behind and the persistence of stereotypes associated with the consequences of the Vietnam War. It examines the role of women in fiction, the importance of gender in Vietnam representation, and the mythic patterns in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. Essayists sharply scrutinize American values, conduct, and conscience as they are revealed in the craft of Tim O’Brien, Philip Caputo, Michael Herr, Stephen Wright, David Rabe, Bruce Weigl, and others.
In 1971 RAND consultant Daniel J. Ellsberg made national news by handing over to the New York Times a top secret Pentagon study on the Vietnam War. Publication of the Pentagon Papers rocked the American defense establishment and fanned the flames of the growing antiwar protest movement in the United States. By late that year, most of the Pentagon Papers had been released to the public. Four volumes, however, were held back, Ellsberg himself conceding their special sensitivity. These so-called negotiating volumes deal with the diplomacy of the war between 1964 and 1968. Published in book form with extensive commentary, they provide an indispensable source for the study of diplomacy during the Vietnam conflict. These documents cover thirteen major peace contacts and initiatives that took place during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. They furnish a wealth of new information about the American bombing pauses of May 1965 and January 1966; several third-party peace initiatives; and a still virtually unknown 1965 contact, mysteriously called “xyz,” between North Vietnamese and American diplomats in Paris. They afford the most complete documentation yet available of the Polish-sponsored peace move codenamed “marigold” and the abortive peace initiative launched early in 1967 by British Prime Minister Wilson and Soviet Premier Kosygin. The utility of this important book is greatly enhanced by Herring’s extensive annotation, highly informative introductory essays, and helpful glossaries.
Gail Hosking Gilberg's father was a hero, a valiant soldier decorated posthumously with the Medal of Honor, a man who served his country throughout his entire adult life. But Charles Hosking was a mystery to his daughter. He was killed in Vietnam a week after her seventeenth birthday. She buried the war, the protests, the medal, and her military upbringing along with her father, so much so that she felt cut off from herself. It took more than twenty years for her to recognize the stirrings of a father and a daughter not yet at peace.
Gilberg began a journey—two journeys really—to find out who her father was and in the process to find herself. She explored her buried rage, shame, and silence, and examined how war had shaped her life. In studying the photo albums that her father had left behind, Gilberg found that the photographs demanded that she give voice to her feelings, then release her silent words, words that had no meaning in war for her father yet had all the meaning in the world for her. The result was an epiphany. The photographs became the roads she took in and out of war, and her words brought her father home. Snake's Daughter reveals the crossroads where a soldier father's life and a daughter's life connect.
Snake's Daughter is an arresting and anguished narrative that gives voice to an experience Gail Hosking Gilberg shares with thousands of Americans, including military “brats” whose parents served their country and often gave their lives in the process.
Pham Xuan An was one of the twentieth century's greatest spies. While working as a correspondent for Time during the Vietnam War, he sent intelligence reports—written in invisible ink or hidden inside spring rolls in film canisters—to Ho Chi Minh and his generals in North Vietnam.
Only after Saigon fell in 1975 did An's colleagues learn that the affable raconteur in their midst, acclaimed as "dean of the Vietnamese press corps," was actually a general in the North Vietnamese Army. In recognition of his tradecraft and his ability to spin military losses—such as the Têt Offensive of 1968—into psychological gains, An was awarded sixteen military medals.
After the book's original publication, WikiLeaks revealed that Thomas A. Bass's account of An's career was distributed to CIA agents as a primer in espionage. Now available in paper with a new preface, An's story remains one of the most gripping to emerge from the era.
At least 43,000 Native Americans fought in the Vietnam War, yet both the American public and the United States government have been slow to acknowledge their presence and sacrifices in that conflict. In this first-of-its-kind study, Tom Holm draws on extensive interviews with Native American veterans to tell the story of their experiences in Vietnam and their readjustment to civilian life. Holm describes how Native American motives for going to war, experiences of combat, and readjustment to civilian ways differ from those of other ethnic groups. He explores Native American traditions of warfare and the role of the warrior to explain why many young Indian men chose to fight in Vietnam. He shows how Native Americans drew on tribal customs and religion to sustain them during combat. And he describes the rituals and ceremonies practiced by families and tribes to help heal veterans of the trauma of war and return them to the "white path of peace." This information, largely unknown outside the Native American community, adds important new perspectives to our national memory of the Vietnam war and its aftermath.
Common and destructive, limited wars are significant international events that pose a number of challenges to the states involved beyond simple victory or defeat. Chief among these challenges is the risk of escalation—be it in the scale, scope, cost, or duration of the conflict. In this book, Spencer D. Bakich investigates a crucial and heretofore ignored factor in determining the nature and direction of limited war: information institutions.
Traditional assessments of wartime strategy focus on the relationship between the military and civilians, but Bakich argues that we must take into account the information flow patterns among top policy makers and all national security organizations. By examining the fate of American military and diplomatic strategy in four limited wars, Bakich demonstrates how not only the availability and quality of information, but also the ways in which information is gathered, managed, analyzed, and used, shape a state’s ability to wield power effectively in dynamic and complex international systems.
Utilizing a range of primary and secondary source materials, Success and Failure in Limited War makes a timely case for the power of information in war, with crucial implications for international relations theory and statecraft.
The Third Sex
Willy University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress HQ76.25.W5713 2007 | Dewey Decimal 306.766
A gold mine of information about a hidden queer culture
Thirty-two years before Simone de Beauvoir's classic TheSecond Sex, popular French novelist Willy published TheThird Sex, a vivid description of the world of European homosexuals in France, Italy, and Germany during the late 1920s. Stepping directly into the heart of gay men's culture, Willy follows homosexual nightlife into music halls, nightclubs, casinos, bars, and saunas. While he finds plenty of drug and alcohol abuse, he also discovers homosexual publishers, scientific societies, group rivalries, and opinions--both medical and political--about the nature of homosexuality itself. Lawrence R. Schehr's introduction provides context and translator's notes for this first-ever English edition.
A Marine’s highly personal memoir reliving the hellish days of a pivotal conflict of the Vietnam War
Con Thien, located only two miles from the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Vietnam, was a United States Marine Corps firebase that was the scene of fierce combat for months on end during 1967. Staving off attacks and ambushes while suffering from ineffectual leadership from Washington as well as media onslaughts, courageous American Marines protected this crucial piece of land at all costs. They would hold Con Thien, but many paid the ultimate price. By the end of the war, more than 1,400 Marines had died and more than 9,000 sustained injuries defending the “Hill of Angels.”
For eight months, James P. Coan’s five-tank platoon was assigned to Con Thien while attached to various Marine infantry battalions. A novice second lieutenant at the time, the author kept a diary recording the thoughts, fears, and frustrations that accompanied his life on “The Hill.” Time in the Barrel: A Marine’s Account of the Battle for Con Thien offers an authentic firsthand account of the daily nightmare that was Con Thien. An enticing and fascinating read featuring authentic depictions of combat, it allows readers to fully grasp the enormity of the fierce struggle for Con Thien.
The defenders of Con Thien were bombarded with hundreds of rounds of incoming rockets, mortars, and artillery that pounded the beleaguered outpost daily. Monsoon downpours turned the red laterite clay soil into a morass of oozing mud, flooded bunkers and trenches, and made Con Thien a living hell. .Being at Con Thien came to be ruefully referred to by the Marines stationed there as "time in the barrel” because they were targets as easy as fish in a barrel.
More than a retelling of military movements, Coan’s engrossing narratives focus on the sheer sacrifice and misery of one Marine’s experience in Vietnam. Through his eyes, we experience the abysmal conditions the Marines endured, from monsoon rainstorms to the constant threat of impending attack. Climatic moments in history are captured through the rare, personal perspective of one particularly astute and observant participant.
In Tours of Vietnam, Scott Laderman demonstrates how tourist literature has shaped Americans’ understanding of Vietnam and projections of United States power since the mid-twentieth century. Laderman analyzes portrayals of Vietnam’s land, history, culture, economy, and people in travel narratives, U.S. military guides, and tourist guidebooks, pamphlets, and brochures. Whether implying that Vietnamese women were in need of saving by “manly” American military power or celebrating the neoliberal reforms Vietnam implemented in the 1980s, ostensibly neutral guides have repeatedly represented events, particularly those related to the Vietnam War, in ways that favor the global ambitions of the United States.
Tracing a history of ideological assertions embedded in travel discourse, Laderman analyzes the use of tourism in the Republic of Vietnam as a form of Cold War cultural diplomacy by a fledgling state that, according to one pamphlet published by the Vietnamese tourism authorities, was joining the “family of free nations.” He chronicles the evolution of the Defense Department pocket guides to Vietnam, the first of which, published in 1963, promoted military service in Southeast Asia by touting the exciting opportunities offered by Vietnam to sightsee, swim, hunt, and water-ski. Laderman points out that, despite historians’ ongoing and well-documented uncertainty about the facts of the 1968 “Hue Massacre” during the National Liberation Front’s occupation of the former imperial capital, the incident often appears in English-language guidebooks as a settled narrative of revolutionary Vietnamese atrocity. And turning to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, he notes that, while most contemporary accounts concede that the United States perpetrated gruesome acts of violence in Vietnam, many tourists and travel writers still dismiss the museum’s display of that record as little more than “propaganda.”
True Faith and Allegiance: An American Paratrooper and the 1972 Battle for An Loc is an intimate and compelling account of the most brutal infantry warfare and is also a critique of the mishandling of America’s departure from Indochina. An unintended consequence of Washington’s stampede to get out of Indochina was an upsurge in combat on a scale not seen before in Vietnam, peaking with the Easter Offensive of 1972.
The battle for An Loc, a key component in the North Vietnamese attempt to overwhelm the South, swept Mike McDermott, then the senior advisor to an elite South Vietnamese paratrooper battalion, into some of the most horrific close-quarters fighting of the war. His in-the-trenches account is augmented by detailed descriptions of a user’s perspective on the parachute resupply, tactical airpower, and B-52 strikes that allowed the An Loc garrison to survive.
True Faith and Allegiance is a riveting recounting of the prism through which a Vietnam veteran views the war as he continues to live with the aftereffects of life-altering experiences in the service of his country.
Just as the Vietnam War presented the United States with a series of challenges, it presents a unique challenge to teachers at all levels. The war had a deep and lasting impact on American culture, politics, and foreign policy. Still fraught with controversy, this crucial chapter of the American experience is as rich in teachable moments as it is riddled with potential pitfalls—especially for students a generation or more removed from the events themselves.
Addressing this challenge, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War offers a wealth of resources for teachers at the secondary and university levels. An introductory section features essays by eminent Vietnam War scholars George Herring and Marilyn Young, who reflect on teaching developments since their first pioneering classes on the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. A methods section includes essays that address specific methods and materials and discuss the use of music and film, the White House tapes, oral histories, the Internet, and other multimedia to infuse fresh and innovative dimensions to teaching the war. A topical section offers essays that highlight creative and effective ways to teach important topics, drawing on recently available primary sources and exploring the war's most critical aspects—the Cold War, decolonization, Vietnamese perspectives, the French in Vietnam, the role of the Hmong, and the Tet Offensive. Every essay in the volume offers classroom-tested pedagogical strategies and detailed practical advice.
Taken as a whole, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War will help teachers at all levels navigate through cultural touchstones, myths, political debates, and the myriad trouble spots enmeshed within the national memory of one of the most significant moments in American history.
Honorable Mention, Franklin Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials, Association for Asian Studies and the Committee for Teaching about Asia
In 1968 Michael Mullen, a graduate student in biochemistry, was drafted; in 1969 he was sent to Vietnam as a foot soldier in Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf's Charlie Company; and in 1970 he was killed by the same “friendly fire” that destroyed thousands of other lives during the Vietnam War.
Back home on the family farm in Iowa, his parents made his death a crusade to awaken all parents to the insanity of war. C. D. B. Bryan's Friendly Fire and the TV movie of the same name documented these dramatic years, and Peg Mullen became a national symbol of grassroots activism. Now Peg Mullen shifts from symbol to reality as she tells her story in print for the first time.
Outspoken, fearless, and wickedly humorous, Peg Mullen had a duel mission in the years after Michael's death: to penetrate the lies and evasions behind the artillery misfire that killed her oldest son and to publicize the senseless horror of the Vietnam War. Unfriendly Fire draws on the many letters sent to the Mullens after Michael's death; in addition, Michael's own bitter, weary letters home are reprinted. In these the voices of parents, brothers, sisters, comrades, teachers, and Michael himself echo Peg Mullen's call for truth and peace.
In the decades since the Vietnam War, veteran memoirs have influenced Americans’ understanding of the conflict. Yet few historians or literary scholars have scrutinized how the genre has shaped the nation’s collective memory of the war and its aftermath. Instead, veterans’ accounts are mined for colorful quotes and then dropped from public discourse; are accepted as factual sources with little attention to how memory, no matter how authentic, can diverge from events; or are not contextualized in terms of the race, gender, or class of the narrators.
Veteran Narratives and the Collective Memory of the Vietnam War is a landmark study of the cultural heritage of the war in Vietnam as presented through the experience of its American participants. Crossing disciplinary borders in ways rarely attempted by historians, John A. Wood unearths truths embedded in the memoirists’ treatments of combat, the Vietnamese people, race relations in the United States military, male-female relationships in the war zone, and veterans’ postwar troubles. He also examines the publishing industry’s influence on collective memory, discussing, for example, the tendency of publishers and reviewers to privilege memoirs critical of the war. Veteran Narratives is a significant and original addition to the literature on Vietnam veterans and the conflict as a whole.
Haunting questions remain about our involvement in Vietnam. Perhaps the most persistent of these is whether President Kennedy would have ended American involvement in Vietnam if he had lived. For many Americans, Oliver Stone’s film JFK left no doubt that before his assassination Kennedy had determined to quit Vietnam. Yet the historical record offers a more complex answer. In this fresh look at the archival evidence, noted scholars take up the challenge to provide us with their conclusions about the early decisions that put the United States on the path to the greatest American tragedy since the Civil War. The tensions and turmoil that accompanied those decisions reveal the American presidency at the center of a storm of conflicting advice. The book is divided into four sections. Parts one and two delve into the political and military contexts of the early decisions. Part three raises the intriguing questions of Kennedy’s and Johnson’s roles in the conflict, particularly the thorny issue of whether Kennedy did, in fact, intend to withdraw from Vietnam and whether Johnson reversed that policy. Part four reveals an uncanny parallel between early Soviet policy toward Hanoi and U.S. policy toward Saigon.
A study of American attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the Vietnam War, this book highlights the central role played by Vietnam veterans in shaping public memory of the war.
Tracing the evolution of the image of the Vietnam veteran from alienated dissenter to traumatized victim to noble warrior, Patrick Hagopian describes how efforts to commemorate the war increasingly downplayed the political divisions it spawned in favor of a more unifying emphasis on honoring veterans and promoting national "healing."
We are the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful
—from an engraving on a Vietnam-era Zippo lighter
In 1965, journalist Morley Safer followed the United States Marines on a search and destroy mission into Cam Ne. When the Marines he accompanied reached the village, they ordered the civilians there to evacuate their homes—grass huts whose thatched roofs they set ablaze with Zippo lighters. Safer’s report on the event soon aired on CBS and was among the first to paint a harrowing portrait of the War in Vietnam. LBJ responded to the segment furiously, accusing Safer of having “shat on the American flag.” For the first time since World War II, American boys in uniform had been portrayed as murderers instead of liberators. Our perception of the war—and the Zippo lighter—would never be the same.
But as this stunning book attests, the Zippo was far more than an instrument of death and destruction. For the American soldiers who wielded them, they were a vital form of social protest as well. Vietnam Zippos showcases the engravings made by U.S. soldiers on their lighters during the height of the conflict, from 1965 to 1973. In a real-life version of the psychedelic war portrayed in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Sherry Buchanan tells the fascinating story of how the humble Zippo became a talisman and companion for American GIs during their tours of duty. Through a dazzling array of images, we see how Zippo lighters were used during the war, and we discover how they served as a canvas for both personal and political expression during the Age of Aquarius, engraved with etchings of peace signs and marijuana leaves and slogans steeped in all the rock lyrics, sound bites, combat slang, and antiwar mottos of the time.
Death from Above. Napalm Sticks to Kids. I Love You Mom, From a Lonely Paratrooper. The engravings gathered in this copiously illustrated volume are at once searing, caustic, and moving, running the full emotional spectrum with both sardonic reflections—I Love the Fucking Army and the Army Loves Fucking Me—and poignant maxims—When the Power of Love Overcomes the Love of Power, the World Will Know Peace. Part pop art and part military artifact, they collectively capture the large moods of the sixties and the darkest days of Vietnam—all through the world of the tiny Zippo.
In Vietnam, the American government vowed to win the "hearts and minds" of the people. On the other side, among those who led and sympathized with the insurgents, the term "people's war" gained a wide currency. Yet while much has been written about those who professed to speak for the Vietnamese population, we know surprisingly little about the everyday life of the peasants who made up the bulk of the country's inhabitants. This book illuminates that subject. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews conducted by the Rand Corporation with informants from My Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, David Hunt brings to light the daily experience of villagers in the midst of war and revolution.The peasants of southern Vietnam were neither onlookers nor mere victims as fighting raged throughout their country. From the "concerted uprising" in 1959–1960 to the Tet Offensive of 1968, the revolutionary movement they created was in fact the driving force within the war. Known as the "Viet Cong" to their adversaries, the rebels called themselves the "Liberation Front." They demanded an end to landlordism and an egalitarian distribution of the means of subsistence as well as a democratization of relations between town and countryside, parents and children, men and women. They hoped the Vietnamese people would achieve a fuller sense of their place in the world and of the power they possessed to fashion their own destinies, without reliance on supernatural forces.In the first half of the book, Hunt analyzes this cultural revolution. As fighting spread and became more destructive, especially after the U.S. escalation in 1965, villagers were driven from their homes, the rural infrastructure collapsed, and customary notions of space and time lost purchase on an increasingly chaotic world. In the second half of the book, Hunt shows how peasants, who earlier had aspired to a kind of revolutionary modernism, now found themselves struggling to survive and to cope with the American intruders who poured into My Tho, and how they managed to regroup and spearhead the Tet Offensive that irrevocably altered the course of the war.
During the Vietnam War the United States government waged a massive, secret air war in neighboring Laos. Two million tons of bombs were dropped on one million people. Fred Branfman, an educational advisor living in Laos at the time, interviewed over 1,000 Laotian survivors. Shocked by what he heard and saw, he urged them to record their experiences in essays, poems, and pictures. Voices from the Plain of Jars was the result of that effort.
When first published in 1972, this book was instrumental in exposing the bombing. In this expanded edition, Branfman follows the story forward in time, describing the hardships that Laotians faced after the war when they returned to find their farm fields littered with cluster munitions—explosives that continue to maim and kill today.
Voices from Vietnam
Michael E. Stevens Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1996 Library of Congress DS559.5.V65 1996 | Dewey Decimal 959.70438
An unforgettable collection of 174 letters and diary entries written by 92 wisconsin men and women who served in Vietnam. Includes a journal kept by Menasha native Frederic Flom on cigarette wrappers during his final 16 days of captivity — the only known diary smuggled out by a Vietnam prisoner of war.
Was the Vietnam War unavoidable? Historians have long assumed that ideological views and the momentum of events made American intervention inevitable. By examining the role of McGeorge Bundy and the National Security Council, Andrew Preston demonstrates that policymakers escalated the conflict in Vietnam in the face of internal opposition, external pressures, and a continually failing strategy.
Bundy created the position of National Security Adviser as we know it today, with momentous consequences that continue to shape American foreign policy. Both today's presidential supremacy in foreign policy and the contemporary national security bureaucracy find their origins in Bundy's powers as the first National Security Adviser and in the ways in which he and his staff brought about American intervention in Vietnam. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were not enthusiastic about waging a difficult war in pursuit of murky aims, but the NSC's bureaucratic dexterity and persuasive influence in the Oval Office skewed the debate in favor of the conflict.
In challenging the prevailing view of Bundy as a loyal but quietly doubting warrior, Preston also revises our understanding of what it meant--and means--to be a hawk or a dove. The War Council is an illuminating and compelling story with two inseparable themes: the acquisition and consolidation of power; and how that power is exercised.
For a Kentucky rifleman who spent his tour trudging through Vietnam's Central Highlands, it was Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." For a "tunnel rat" who blew smoke into the Viet Cong's underground tunnels, it was Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze." For a black marine distraught over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it was Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." And for countless other Vietnam vets, it was "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die," "Who'll Stop the Rain," or the song that gives this book its title.
In We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. They explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the World back home and of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. They also demonstrate that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans—black and white, Latino and Native American, men and women, officers and "grunts"—whose personal reflections drive the book's narrative. Many of the voices are those of ordinary soldiers, airmen, seamen, and marines. But there are also "solo" pieces by veterans whose writings have shaped our understanding of the war—Karl Marlantes, Alfredo Vea, Yusef Komunyakaa, Bill Ehrhart, Arthur Flowers—as well as songwriters and performers whose music influenced soldiers' lives, including Eric Burdon, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Country Joe McDonald, and John Fogerty. Together their testimony taps into memories—individual and cultural—that capture a central if often overlooked component of the American war in Vietnam.
Nearly 1,600 Americans who took part in the Vietnam War are still missing and presumed dead. Sarah Wagner tells the stories of those who mourn and continue to search for them. Today’s forensic science can identify remains from mere traces, raising expectations for repatriation and forcing a new reckoning with the toll of America’s most fraught war.
Much has been written about the seismic shifts in American culture and politics during the 1960s. Yet for all the analysis of that turbulent era, its legacy remains unclear. In this elegantly written book, David Wyatt offers a fresh perspective on the decade by focusing on the pivotal year of 1968. He takes as his point of departure the testimony delivered by returning veteran John Kerry before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971, as he imagined a time in the future when the word "Vietnam" would mean "the place where America finally turned." But turning from what, to what—and for better or for worse?
Wyatt explores these questions as he retraces the decisive moments of 1968—the Tet Offensive, the McCarthy campaign, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the student revolt at Columbia, the "police riot" at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Lyndon Johnson's capitulation, and Richard Nixon's ascendency to power. Seeking to recover the emotions surrounding these events as well as analyze their significance, Wyatt draws on the insights of what Michael Herr has called "straight" and "secret" histories. The first category consists of work by professional historians, traditional journalists, public figures, and political operatives, while the second includes the writings of novelists, poets, New Journalists, and memoirists.
The aim of this parallel approach is to uncover two kinds of truth: a "scholarly truth" grounded in the documented past and an "imaginative truth" that occupies the more ambiguous realm of meaning. Only by reckoning with both, Wyatt believes, can Americans come to understand the true legacy of the 1960s.
A companion book to the documentary produced by Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories showcases 40 first-person stories from those who fought in America's longest war. From barely-legal sons of Wisconsin to seasoned soldiers, the men and women in these pages make up a diverse collection of voices: an army chaplain who led services at Khe Sanh but never picked up a weapon; identical twin brothers who discover they are stationed at the same South Vietnam base; a Hmong refugee who fought the Secret War at age 12 in the jungles of Laos and later moved to Milwaukee; two prisoners of war whose years in captivity total almost 14; a Medal of Honor recipient; and dozens more.
The stories in these pages expand beyond the borders of the war to include personal accounts of the events leading up to it, as well as the experiences of veterans as they return home to civilian life at the height of antiwar protest. Supported by original maps, photographs from the veterans' own collections, historical chapter introductions, biographies, and a comprehensive "honor roll" of Wisconsin-born soldiers who died or remain missing, Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories is an unforgettable collection and lasting tribute to our veterans.
In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, centrist Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon’s secretary of defense. It was not, Laird knew, a move likely to endear him to the American public—but as he later said, “Nixon couldn’t find anybody else who wanted the damn job.” For the next four years, Laird deftly navigated the morass of the war he had inherited. Lampooned as a “missile head,” but decisive in crafting an exit strategy, he doggedly pursued his program of Vietnamization, initiating the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and gradually ceding combat responsibilities to South Vietnam. In fighting to bring the troops home faster, pressing for more humane treatment of POWs, and helping to end the draft, Laird employed a powerful blend of disarming Midwestern candor and Washington savvy, as he sought a high moral road bent on Nixon’s oft-stated (and politically instrumental) goal of peace with honor.
The first book ever to focus on Laird’s legacy, this authorized biography reveals his central and often unrecognized role in managing the crisis of national identity sparked by the Vietnam War—and the challenges, ethical and political, that confronted him along the way. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Laird, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and numerous others, author Dale Van Atta offers a sympathetic portrait of a man striving for open government in an atmosphere fraught with secrecy. Van Atta illuminates the inner workings of high politics: Laird’s behind-the-scenes sparring with Kissinger over policy, his decisions to ignore Nixon’s wilder directives, his formative impact on arms control and health care, his key role in the selection of Ford for vice president, his frustration with the country’s abandonment of Vietnamization, and, in later years, his unheeded warning to Donald Rumsfeld that “it’s a helluva lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one.”
Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association