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 Vietnam challenges the prevailing genealogy of Vietnam’s emergence in the American imagination—one that presupposes the Vietnam War as the starting point of meaningful Vietnamese-U.S. political and cultural involvements. Examining literature from as early as the 1820s, Marguerite Nguyen takes a comparative, long historical approach to interpreting constructions of Vietnam in American literature. She analyzes works in various genres published in English and Vietnamese by Monique Truong and Michael Herr as well as lesser-known writers such as John White, Harry Hervey, and Võ Phiến. The book’s cross-cultural prism spans Paris, Saigon, New York, and multiple oceans, and its departure from Cold War frames reveals rich cross-period connections.
America’s Vietnam recounts a mostly unexamined story of Southeast Asia’s lasting and varied influence on U.S. aesthetic and political concerns. Tracking Vietnam’s transition from an emergent nation in the nineteenth century to a French colony to a Vietnamese-American war zone, Nguyen demonstrates that how authors represent Vietnam is deeply entwined with the United States’ shifting role in the world. As America’s longstanding presence in Vietnam evolves, the literature it generates significantly revises our perceptions of war, race, and empire over time.
Vietnamese refugees fleeing the fall of South Vietnam faced a paradox. The same guilt-ridden America that only reluctantly accepted them expected, and rewarded, expressions of gratitude for their rescue. Meanwhile, their status as refugees ”as opposed to willing immigrants ”profoundly influenced their cultural identity. Phuong Tran Nguyen examines the phenomenon of refugee nationalism among Vietnamese Americans in Southern California. Here, the residents of Little Saigon keep alive nostalgia for the old regime and, by extension, their claim to a lost statehood. Their refugee nationalism is less a refusal to assimilate than a mode of becoming, in essence, a distinct group of refugee Americans. Nguyen examines the factors that encouraged them to adopt this identity. His analysis also moves beyond the familiar rescue narrative to chart the intimate yet contentious relationship these Vietnamese Americans have with their adopted homeland. Nguyen sets their plight within the context of the Cold War, an era when Americans sought to atone for broken promises but also saw themselves as providing a sanctuary for people everywhere fleeing communism.
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.
Brendan Leary, assigned to an Air Force photo squadron an hour from L.A., thinks he has it made. But when the U.S. invades Cambodia and he joins his buddies who march in protest, he is shipped off to an obscure air base in upcountry Thailand. There, he finds himself flying at night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in a secret war that turns the mountains of Laos into a napalm-scorched moonscape. As the emotional vise tightens, his moral fiber crumbles and he sinks ever deeper into a netherworld of drugs, sex, and booze.
When a visit by Nixon looms, Brendan dreams up an all-squadron bicycle race to build morale, win hearts and minds in rural Thailand, and make him and his underpaid buddies a pile of money. The Big Buddha Bicycle Race is a last gasp of hope that turns into a unifying adventure—until the stakes turn out to be far higher than anyone imagined.
The Big Buddha Bicycle Race is a new take on the Vietnam War. A caper on the surface, it is also a tribute to the complex culture and history of Southeast Asia and a sober remembrance of those groups who have been erased from American history—the brash active-duty soldiers who risked prison by taking part in the GI antiwar movement, the gutsy air commandos who risked death night after night flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the people of Laos, whose lives and land were devastated in ways that have yet to be fully acknowledged in Western accounts of the war.
Doug Anderson's "Blues For Unemployed Secret Police" dramatically reflects his experience of growing up in the sixties, serving as a field medical corpsman in Viet Nam, and confronting the modern era where "a good torturer can always find a job." With passion, humor, and strikingly original images, these poems illuminate everything from bad politics to love gone wrong.
Half a century after the CIA's Secret War in Laos—the largest bombing campaign in history—explosive remnants of war continue to be part of people's everyday lives. In Bomb Children Leah Zani offers a perceptive analysis of the long-term, often subtle, and unintended effects of massive air warfare. Zani traces the sociocultural impact of cluster submunitions—known in Laos as “bomb children”—through stories of explosives clearance technicians and others living and working in these old air strike zones. Zani presents her ethnography alongside poetry written in the field, crafting a startlingly beautiful analysis of state terror, authoritarian revival, rapid development, and ecological contamination. In so doing, she proposes that postwar zones are their own cultural and area studies, offering new ways to understand the parallel relationship between ongoing war violence and postwar revival.
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.
Buffalo Boy and Geronimo
James Janko Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3610.A5697B84 2006 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
The unique vision in Janko's Buffalo Boy and Geronimo is the depiction of the Vietnam War as seen through the lens of a wounded but resilient nature as a Confucian society still rooted in the earth and the unbroken fabric of ancestors is pitted against a desensitized military high-tech culture. As critic Paul Pines noted, "The forces here that seek to conquer the landscape are those, which by implication, shatter the harmonious fabric of the natural world to create a pathology that is far deeper than the political stakes indicate-one that indeed may determine the future of the entire ecosphere."
The two heroes of the book, Nguyen Luu Mong, the Vietnamese buffalo boy, and Antonio Lucio, the US Chicano medic (Geronimo), both have a deep respect for the natural world, and it is through their eyes that we witness the devastation of the natural world of which they are a part.
Geronimo's unit is engaged in search and destroy missions (one of the villages destroyed is Mong's), and he becomes so appalled by the pain and death inflicted on animals and humans that at one point he abandons his unit and rushes ahead to drive the animals away from an impending firebombing. Eventually he deserts and finds his way back into the jungle.
The young adolescent Mong loses his beloved buffalo in an early firefight and eventually sees his entire village destroyed, the survivors relocating deeper into Viet Cong territory. His is also a love story, and his marriage to Thien at the end of the novel is symbolic of the need for life to continue despite the devastation.
In Chains of Babylon, Daryl J. Maeda presents a cultural history of Asian American activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, showing how the movement created the category of "Asian American" to join Asians of many ethnicities in racial solidarity. Drawing on the Black Power and antiwar movements, Asian American radicals argued that all Asians in the United States should resist assimilation and band together to oppose racism within the country and imperialism abroad.
As revealed in Maeda's in-depth work, the Asian American movement contended that people of all Asian ethnicities in the United States shared a common relationship to oppression and exploitation with each other and with other nonwhite peoples. In the early stages of the civil rights era, the possibility of assimilation was held out to Asian Americans under a model minority myth. Maeda insists that it was only in the disruption of that myth for both African Americans and Asian Americans in the 1960s and 1970s that the full Asian American culture and movement he describes could emerge. Maeda challenges accounts of the post-1968 era as hopelessly divisive by examining how racial and cultural identity enabled Asian Americans to see eye-to-eye with and support other groups of color in their campaigns for social justice.
Asian American opposition to the war in Vietnam, unlike that of the broader antiwar movement, was predicated on understanding it as a racial, specifically anti-Asian genocide. Throughout he argues that cultural critiques of racism and imperialism, the twin "chains of Babylon" of the title, informed the construction of a multiethnic Asian American identity committed to interracial and transnational solidarity.
The combat history of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines--or “One Five” (1/5)--is long and illustrious, but there are many periods of their combat operations during the Vietnam War about which there is little in print. This history is drawn from many years of research, from the author’s personal memories, and from careful study of the battalion’s Command Chronologies and Combat After-action Reports and other historical records. Most importantly it includes a collection of true stories told to the author by dozens of U.S. Marines who served in and fought with 1/5 during the Vietnam War, at all levels of the Chain of Command.
This book hunkers down with the “Mud Marines” of Charlie One Five, a small but determined band of American fighting men, and their very human and often painful stories of combat cover a wide range of scenarios and situations. Follow the Marines of 1/5 as they are lulled by the exotic and beautiful countryside, trudge through swamps, jungles, mountains, and rice paddies for seemingly endless days, and struggle to stay alert during their cautious passage through the extreme terrain and weather conditions of this incredibly scenic but deceptive land, only to be shattered by sudden and deadly attacks from Viet Cong snipers, ambushes, and command-detonated bombs. Despite the overwhelming odds against them, the Marines of Charlie One Five always emerge victorious in every battle they fight.
During the Vietnam War, young African Americans fought to protect the freedoms of Southeast Asians and died in disproportionate numbers compared to their white counterparts. Despite their sacrifices, black Americans were unable to secure equal rights at home, and because the importance of the war overshadowed the civil rights movement in the minds of politicians and the public, it seemed that further progress might never come. For many African Americans, the bloodshed, loss, and disappointment of war became just another chapter in the history of the civil rights movement. Lawrence Allen Eldridge explores this two-front war, showing how the African American press grappled with the Vietnam War and its impact on the struggle for civil rights.
Written in a clear narrative style, Chronicles of a Two-Front War is the first book to examine coverage of the Vietnam War by black news publications, from the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 to the final withdrawal of American ground forces in the spring of 1973 and the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975.
Eldridge reveals how the black press not only reported the war but also weighed its significance in the context of the civil rights movement.
The author researched seventeen African American newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, the Baltimore Afro-American, and the New Courier, and two magazines, Jet and Ebony. He augmented the study with a rich array of primary sources—including interviews with black journalists and editors, oral history collections, the personal papers of key figures in the black press, and government documents, including those from the presidential libraries of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford—to trace the ups and downs of U.S. domestic and wartime policy especially as it related to the impact of the war on civil rights.
Eldridge examines not only the role of reporters during the war, but also those of editors, commentators, and cartoonists. Especially enlightening is the research drawn from extensive oral histories by prominent journalist Ethel Payne, the first African American woman to receive the title of war correspondent. She described a widespread practice in black papers of reworking material from major white papers without providing proper credit, as the demand for news swamped the small budgets and limited staffs of African American papers. The author analyzes both the strengths of the black print media and the weaknesses in their coverage.
The black press ultimately viewed the Vietnam War through the lens of African American experience, blaming the war for crippling LBJ’s Great Society and the War on Poverty. Despite its waning hopes for an improved life, the black press soldiered on.
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.
Growing up during the Second World War, H. Bruce Franklin believed what he was told: that America’s victory would lead to a new era of world peace. Like most Americans, he was soon led to believe in a world-wide Communist conspiracy that menaced the United States, forcing the nation into a disastrous war in Korea. But once he joined the U.S. Air Force and began flying top-secret missions as a navigator and intelligence officer, what he learned was eye-opening. He saw that even as the U.S. preached about peace and freedom, it was engaging in an endless cycle of warfare, bringing devastation and oppression to fledgling democracies across the globe.
Now, after fifty years as a renowned cultural historian, Franklin offers a set of hard-learned lessons about modern American history. Crash Course is essential reading for anyone who wonders how America ended up where it is today: with a deeply divided and disillusioned populace, led by a dysfunctional government, and mired in unwinnable wars. It also finds startling parallels between America’s foreign military exploits and the equally brutal tactics used on the home front to crush organized labor, antiwar, and civil rights movements.
More than just a memoir or a history book, Crash Course gives readers a unique firsthand look at the building of the American empire and the damage it has wrought. Shocking and gripping as any thriller, it exposes the endless deception of the American public, and reveals from inside how and why many millions of Americans have been struggling for decades against our own government in a fight for peace and justice.
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.
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.
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.
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
It is in the spirit of the LZ that the essayists in Fourteen Landing Zones approach the writings of the Vietnam War. These fourteen diverse and powerful works by some of today's leading critics in Vietnam studies begin to answer the question of how we will filter the writings of the Vietnam War—including fiction, poetry, drama, and memoirs. What will survive the process of critical acclaim and societal affirmation—and why? Included is an incisive introduction by Jason that provides an overview of the burgeoning body of Vietnam War literature and its peculiar life in the literary and academic marketplace. This strong, often emotional volume will be of particular importance to all those interested in the literature of the Vietnam War, contemporary literature, and contemporary culture and history.
Jack Fuller University of Chicago Press, 1997 Library of Congress PS3556.U44F7 1997 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Fragments is a story about how war can make everything explosive—even love—and how two friends try to put the pieces of their lives together again.
"[Fragments] makes the usual semi-autobiographical account [of the Vietnam War] . . . seem flimsy and discursive in comparison. . . . The shapeliness and sense of larger design [is] so elegantly executed in Fragments."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"The plot is believable, the characters sharply drawn, the prose clean and distinctive. . . . Stand[s] with Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato, James Webb's Fields of Fire, Josiah Bunting's The Lionheads and John Del Vecchio's The 13th Valley. . . . A strong, compelling novel."—Marc Leepson, Washington Post
"There have been many books on Vietnam, and there will be many others. This is more a novel than the rest. . . . Fuller has reassembled the exploded grenade."—Bob MacDonald, Boston Sunday Globe
"Should our children ask about Vietnam, we would not go wrong to place this book in their hands. . . . [Fragments] purveys more than information—it gives the war a literary form."—David Myers, New York Times
"The best novel yet about the Vietnam War. . . . It ranks with Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones's From Here to Eternity."—Daniel Kornstein, Wall Street Journal
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.
from Sand Creek
Simon J. Ortiz University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS501.S85 vol. 42 | Dewey Decimal 810.80054
The massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children by U.S. soldiers at Sand Creek in 1864 was a shameful episode in American history, and its battlefield was proposed as a National Historic Site in 1998 to pay homage to those innocent victims. Poet Simon Ortiz had honored those people seventeen years earlier in his own way. That book, from Sand Creek, is now back in print.
Originally published in a small-press edition, from Sand Creek makes a large statement about injustices done to Native peoples in the name of Manifest Destiny. It also makes poignant reference to the spread of that ambition in other parts of the world—notably in Vietnam—as Ortiz asks himself what it is to be an American, a U.S. citizen, and an Indian. Indian people have often felt they have had no part in history, Ortiz observes, and through his work he shows how they can come to terms with this feeling. He invites Indian people to examine the process they have experienced as victims, subjects, and expendable resources—and asks people of European heritage to consider the motives that drive their own history and create their own form of victimization.
Through the pages of this sobering work, Ortiz offers a new perspective on history and on America. Perhaps more important, he offers a breath of hope that our peoples might learn from each other:
has been a burden
of steel and mad
but, look now,
there are flowers
and new grass
and a spring wind
from Sand Creek.
To boost soldiers’ morale and remind them of the stakes of victory, the American military formalized a recreation program that sent respectable young women, along with famous entertainers, overseas. This history of the women who talked and listened, danced and sang, adds an intimate chapter to the story of war and its ties to life in peacetime.
In this rich and varied collection of short stories (six stories & one novella), former Green Beret Lee Barnes deals with the war itself and with its aftermath, but his stories focus more on the human aspects of men in armed conflict and families at home than on the violent drama or political aspects of that war.
The early 1960s to the mid-1970s was one of the most turbulent periods in American history. The U.S. military was engaged in its longest, costliest overseas conflict, while the home front was torn apart by riots, protests, and social activism. In the midst of these upheavals, an underground and countercultural press emerged, giving activists an extraordinary forum for a range of imaginative expressions. Poetry held a prominent place in this alternative media. The poem was widely viewed by activists as an inherently anti-establishment form of free expression, and poets were often in the vanguards of political activism.
Hearts and Minds is the first book-length study of the poems of the Black Liberation, Women's Liberation, and GI Resistance movements during the Vietnam era. Drawing on recent cultural and literary theories, Bibby investigates the significance of images, tropes, and symbols of human bodies in activist poetry. Many key political slogans of the period––"black is beautiful," "off our backs"––foreground the body. Bibby demonstrates that figurations of bodies marked important sites of social and political struggle.
Although poetry played such an important role in Vietnam-era activism, literary criticism has largely ignored most of this literature. Bibby recuperates the cultural-historical importance of Vietnam-era activist poetry, highlighting both its relevant contexts and revealing how it engaged political and social struggles that continue to motivate contemporary history. Arguing for the need to read cultural history through these "underground" texts, Hearts and Minds offers new grounds for understanding the recent history of American poetry and the role poetry has played as a medium of imaginative political expression.
It just didn’t sit right. Not with his friends, not with his coworkers, not with his hunting and fishing buddies, and certainly not with his family. The American Embassy in Bangkok had reported the accidental death of Jerry “Hog” Daniels by carbon monoxide poisoning. Three decades later, his family and most of his friends remain unconvinced that the U.S. government told them the truth about his death.
As a former CIA case officer to legendary Hmong leader General Vang Pao during the “secret war” in Laos, Jerry Daniels was experienced, smart, and careful. Those who knew him well said he wasn’t the type to die as reported. Raising even more doubts, his casket was “Permanently Sealed” by the U.S. State Department before being shipped home to Missoula, Montana, where he was honored with a three-day funeral ceremony organized by his former comrades-in-arms, the Hmong hilltribe warriors from Laos.
This book examines the unique personality and reported death of a man who was a pivotal agent in U.S./Hmong history. Friends and family share their memories of Daniels growing up in Montana, cheating death in Laos, and carousing in the bars and brothels of Thailand. First-person accounts from Americans and Hmong, ranchers and refugees, State Department officials and smokejumpers capture both human and historical stories about the life of this dedicated and irreverent individual and offer speculation on the unsettling circumstances of his death. Equally important, Hog’s Exit is the first complete account in English to document the drama and beauty of the Hmong funeral process. Hog’s Exit provides a fascinating view of a man and the two very different cultures in which he lived.
Just as famines and plagues can provide opportunities for medical research, the unhappy course of United States relations with Vietnam is a prime source of evidence for students of American political institutions. How Presidents Test Reality draws on the record of American decision making about Vietnam to explore the capacity of top government executives and their advisers to engage in effective reality testing.
Authors Burke and Greenstein compare the Vietnam decisions of two presidents whose leadership styles and advisory systems diverged as sharply as any in the modern presidency. Faced with a common challenge—an incipient Communist take-over of Vietnam—presidents Eisenhower and Johnson engaged in intense debates with their aides and associates, some of whom favored intervention and some of whom opposed it. In the Dien Bien Phu Crisis of 1954, Eisenhower decided not to enter the conflict; in 1965, when it became evident that the regime in South Vietnam could not hold out much longer, Johnson intervened.
How Presidents Test Reality uses declassified records and interviews with participants to assess the adequacy of each president’s use of advice and information. This important book advances our historical understanding of the American involvement in Vietnam and illuminates the preconditions of effective presidential leadership in the modern world.
"An exceptionally thoughtful exercise in what ‘contemporary history’ ought to be. Illuminates the past in a way that suggests how we might deal with the present and the future." —John Lewis Gaddis
"Burke and Greenstein have written what amounts to an owner's manual for operating the National Security Council....This is a book Reagan's people could have used and George Bush ought to read." —Bob Schieffer, The Washington Monthly
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.
A Vietnam War combat memoir from the perspective of an artilleryman.
Impact Zone documents Marine First Lieutenant James S. Brown's intense battle experiences, including those at Khe Sanh and Con Thien, throughout his thirteen months of service on the DMZ during 1967-68. This high-action account also reflects Brown's growing belief that the Vietnam War was mis-fought due to the unproductive political leadership of President Johnson and his administration. Brown's naiveté developed into hardening skepticism and cynicism as he faced the harsh realities of war, though he still managed to retain a sense of honor, pride, and patriotism for his country.
Impact Zone is a distinctive book on the Vietnam War because it is told from the perspective of an artilleryman, and the increasingly dangerous events gain momentum as they progress from one adventure to the next. Impact Zone is not only an important historical document of the Vietnam conflict, but also a moving record of the personal and emotional costs of war.
From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adam Berinsky argues that public response to these crises has been shaped less by their defining characteristics—such as what they cost in lives and resources—than by the same political interests and group affiliations that influence our ideas about domestic issues.
With the help of World War II–era survey data that had gone virtually untouched for the past sixty years, Berinsky begins by disproving the myth of “the good war” that Americans all fell in line to support after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack, he reveals, did not significantly alter public opinion but merely punctuated interventionist sentiment that had already risen in response to the ways that political leaders at home had framed the fighting abroad. Weaving his findings into the first general theory of the factors that shape American wartime opinion, Berinsky also sheds new light on our reactions to other crises. He shows, for example, that our attitudes toward restricted civil liberties during Vietnam and after 9/11 stemmed from the same kinds of judgments we make during times of peace.
With Iraq and Afghanistan now competing for attention with urgent issues within the United States, In Time of War offers a timely reminder of the full extent to which foreign and domestic politics profoundly influence—and ultimately illuminate—each other.
This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories (as well as those to be included in Part 2, forthcoming) represent a wide range of publications: counterculture, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoner's rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. The edition includes forewords by former Chicago Seed editor Abe Peck, radical attorney William M. Kunstler, and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, along with an introductory essay by Ken Wachsberger.
Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produce a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of "the countercultural community."
A fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history.
This enlightening book offers a collection of histories of underground papers from the Vietnam Era as written and told by key staff members of the time. Their stories, building on those presented in Part 1, represent a wide range of publications: countercultural, gay, lesbian, feminist, Puerto Rican, Native American, Black, socialist, Southern consciousness, prisoners’ rights, New Age, rank-and-file, military, and more. Wachsberger notes that the underground press not only produced a few well-known papers but also was truly national and diverse in scope. His goal is to capture the essence of “the countercultural community.” This book will be a fundamental resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of a dramatic era in U.S. history, as well as offering a younger readership a glimpse into a generation of idealists who rose up to challenge and improve government and society.
The Vietnam War has been depicted by every available medium, each presenting a message, an agenda, of what the filmmakers and producers choose to project about America's involvement in Southeast Asia. This collection of essays, most of which are previously unpublished, analyzes the themes, modes, and stylistic strategies seen in a broad range of films and television programs.
From diverse perspectives, the contributors comprehensively examine early documentary and fiction films, postwar films of the 1970s such as The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, and the reformulated postwar films of the 1980s--Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Born on the Fourth of July. They also address made-for-television movies and serial dramas like China Beach and Tour of Duty. The authors show how the earliest film responses to America's involvement in Vietnam employ myth and metaphor and are at times unable to escape glamorized Hollywood. Later films strive to portray a more realistic Vietnam experience, often creating images that are an attempt to memorialize or to manufacture different kinds of myths. As they consider direct and indirect representations of the war, the contributors also examine the power or powerlessness of individual soldiers, the racial views presented, and inscriptions of gender roles. Also included in this volume is a chapter that discusses teaching Vietnam films and helping students discern and understand film rhetoric, what the movies say, and who they chose to communicate those messages.
Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).
Introduction - Michael Anderegg
1. Hollywood and Vietnam: John Wayne and Jane Fonda as Discourse - Michael Anderegg
2. "All the Animals Come Out at Night": Vietnam Meets Noir in Taxi Driver - Cynthia J. Fuchs
3. Vietnam and the Hollywood Genre Film: Inversions of American Mythology in The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now - John Hellmann
4. "Charlie Don't Surf": Race and Culture in the Vietnam War Films - David Desser
5. Finding a Language for Vietnam in the Action-Adventure Genre - Ellen Draper
6. Narrative Patterns and Mythic Trajectories in Mid-1980s Vietnam Movies - Tony Williams
7. Rambo's Vietnam and Kennedy's New Frontier - John Hellmann
8. Gardens of Stone, Platoon, and Hamburger Hill: Ritual and Remembrance - Judy Lee Kinney
9. Primetime Television's Tour of Duty - Daniel Miller
10. Women Next Door to War: China Beach - Carolyn Reed Vartanian
11. Male Bonding, Hollywood Orientalism, and the Repression of the Feminine in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - Susan White
12. Vietnam, Chaos, and the Dark Art of Improvisation - Owen W. Gilman, Jr.
13. Witness to War: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic, and Born on the Fourth of July - Thomas Doherty
14. Teaching Vietnam: The Politics of Documentary - Thomas J. Slater
Selected Filmography and Videography
About the Author(s)
Michael Anderegg is Professor of English at the University of North Dakota, and author of two other books: William Wyler and David Lean.
Contributors: Cynthia J. Fuchs, John Hellman, David Desser, Ellen Draper, Tony Williams, Judy Lee Kinney, Daniel Miller, Carolyn Reed Vartanian, Susan White, Owen W. Gilman, Jr., Thomas Doherty, Thomas J. Slater, and the editor.
Landing Zones brings to life the dramatic, gripping, and often painful stories of twenty-four Vietnam Veterans from the American South. The men and women interviewed here represent a remarkable range of experience, including a marine rifleman, a helicopter pilot, an army nurse, a prisoner of war, a riverboat gunner, and the commanding general William Westmoreland. Skillfully interviewed by James R. Wilson, a journalist and Army press officer in Vietnam, each narrative explores and describes the war’s events before following the veterans home and carrying them to the present. These stories focus on a uniquely southern view of Vietnam. In terms of numbers the South shouldered more than its share of human cost—31 percent of Americans who served came from one of the eleven states of the old Confederacy, and 28 percent of the dead were southerners. Southerners also brought to Vietnam certain shared cultural tastes and a particularly southern heritage of honor in military service stemming from the Civil War. For many, as their testimony reveals, a sense of patriotism was tested and questioned by the horrors of war, and for others that patriotism was a continued source of strength. Individually and collectively, however, these oral histories make up a picture of war that prevents us from forgetting the truth as one veteran put it: “Vietnam was not one war, but a thousand little nasty wars.”
Invariably, armies are accused of preparing to fight the previous war. In Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl—a veteran of both Operation Desert Storm and the current conflict in Iraq—considers the now-crucial question of how armies adapt to changing circumstances during the course of conflicts for which they are initially unprepared. Through the use of archival sources and interviews with participants in both engagements, Nagl compares the development of counterinsurgency doctrine and practice in the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960 with what developed in the Vietnam War from 1950 to 1975.
In examining these two events, Nagl—the subject of a recent New York Times Magazine cover story by Peter Maass—argues that organizational culture is key to the ability to learn from unanticipated conditions, a variable which explains why the British army successfully conducted counterinsurgency in Malaya but why the American army failed to do so in Vietnam, treating the war instead as a conventional conflict. Nagl concludes that the British army, because of its role as a colonial police force and the organizational characteristics created by its history and national culture, was better able to quickly learn and apply the lessons of counterinsurgency during the course of the Malayan Emergency.
With a new preface reflecting on the author's combat experience in Iraq, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife is a timely examination of the lessons of previous counterinsurgency campaigns that will be hailed by both military leaders and interested civilians.
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.
Mansfield and Vietnam: A Study in Rhetorical Adaptation is the first major work to examine the role played by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Democrat from Montana, in the formulation and execution of U.S. Vietnam policy. Drawing upon material from the Mansfield Papers, personal interviews, public speeches, and recently declassified documents, Olson traces Mansfield's journey from ardent supporter of Diem in the late 1950s to quiet critic of LBJ in the mid-1960s, and finally, to outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Olson focuses his attention on Mansfield's speaking ability and his use of the written word, analyzing the ways in which they proved crucial in shaping the policies of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford presidential administrations. He also examines the way personal and political situations converged to force Mansfield into the center of the stormy Vietnam controversy, and eventually into a position of leadership in the campaign to end America's military presence in Southeast Asia. To date, little has been done to evaluate the roles played by key congressional figures in the Vietnam War debate; thus, Mansfield and Vietnam is bound to become a significant contribution, not only to rhetorical studies, but also to twentieth-century diplomatic history and to the study of congressional-presidential relations.
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.
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.
No matter when or where they are fought, all wars have one thing in common: a relentless progression to monuments and memorials for the dead. Likewise all art made from war begins and ends in mourning and remembrance. In The Mourner's Song, James Tatum offers incisive discussions of physical and literary memorials constructed in the wake of war, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the writings of Stephen Crane, Edmund Wilson, Tim O'Brien, and Robert Lowell.
Tatum's touchstone throughout is the Iliad, not just one of the earliest war poems, but also one of the most powerful examples of the way poetry can be a tribute to and consolation for what is lost in war. Reading the Iliad alongside later works inspired by war, Tatum reveals how the forms and processes of art convert mourning to memorial. He examines the role of remembrance and the distance from war it requires; the significance of landscape in memorialization; the artifacts of war that fire the imagination; the intimate relationship between war and love and its effects on the ferocity with which soldiers wage battle; and finally, the idea of memorialization itself. Because all survivors suffer the losses of war, Tatum's is a story of both victims and victors, commanders and soldiers, women and men. Photographs of war memorials in Vietnam, France, and the United States beautifully augment his testimonials.
Eloquent and deeply moving, The Mourner's Song will speak to anyone interested in the literature of war and the relevance of the classics to our most pressing contemporary needs.
Richard Gribble Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress VG23.G75 2015 | Dewey Decimal 271.5302
Navy Priest is a compelling biography of the Jesuit priest and Navy chaplain John Francis (Jake) Laboon. Father Jake made a significant contribution to the United States Navy, both as a World War II submarine officer and, most prominently, during a 22-year career as a chaplain. Laboon served as the first chaplain for the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program, but also served as chaplain at his alma mater the United States Naval Academy, undertook a tour of duty with the US Marines in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit, and later served as Fleet Chaplain of the United States Atlantic Fleet.
Richard Moser uses interviews and personal stories of Vietnam veterans to offer a fundamentally new interpretation of the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement. Although the Vietnam War was the most important conflict of recent American history, its decisive battle was not fought in the jungles of Vietnam, or even in the streets of the United States, but rather in the hearts and minds of American soldiers. To a degree unprecedented in American history, soldiers and veterans acted to oppose the very war they waged. Tens of thousands of soldiers and veterans engaged in desperate conflicts with their superiors and opposed the war through peaceful protest, creating a mass movement of dissident organizations and underground newspapers.
Moser shows how the antiwar soldiers lived out the long tradition of the citizen soldier first created in the American Revolution and Civil War. Unlike those great upheavals of the past, the Vietnam War offered no way to fulfill the citizen-soldier's struggle for freedom and justice. Rather than abandoning such ideals, however, tens of thousands abandoned the war effort and instead fulfilled their heroic expectations in the movements for peace and justice. According to Moser, this transformation of warriors into peacemakers is the most important recent development of our military culture.
The struggle for peace took these new winter soldiers into America rather than away from it. Collectively these men and women discovered the continuing potential of American culture to advance the values of freedom, equality, and justice on which the nation was founded.
While other writers contemplated the events of the 1968 Chicago riots from the safety of their hotel rooms, John Schultz was in the city streets, being threatened by police, choking on tear gas, and listening to all the rage, fear, and confusion around him. The result, No One Was Killed, is his account of the contradictions and chaos of convention week, the adrenalin, the sense of drama and history, and how the mainstream press was getting it all wrong.
"A more valuable factual record of events than the city’s white paper, the Walker Report, and Theodore B. White’s Making of a President combined."—Book Week
"As a reporter making distinctions between Yippie, hippie, New Leftist, McCarthyite, police, and National Guard, Schultz is perceptive; he excels in describing such diverse personalities as Julian Bond and Eugene McCarthy."—Library Journal
"High on my short list of true, lasting, inspired evocations of those whacked-out days when the country was fighting a phantasmagorical war (with real corpses), and police under orders were beating up demonstrators who looked at them funny."—Todd Gitlin, from the foreword
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.
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."
The Oriental Obscene is a sophisticated analysis of Americans’ reactions to visual representations of the Vietnam War, such as the photograph of the “napalm girl,” news footage of the Tet Offensive, and feature films from The Deer Hunter to Rambo: First Blood Part II. Sylvia Shin Huey Chong combines psychoanalytic and film theories with U.S. cultural history to explain what she terms the oriental obscene: racialized fantasies that Americans derived largely from images of Asians as the perpetrators or victims of extreme violence. Chong contends that these fantasies helped Americans to process the trauma of the Vietnam War, as well as the growth of the Asian American population after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and the postwar immigration of Southeast Asian refugees. The oriental obscene animated a wide range of political narratives, not only the movements for and against the war, but causes as diverse as the Black Power movement, law-and-order conservatism, second-wave feminism, and the nascent Asian American movement. During the Vietnam era, pictures of Asian bodies were used to make sense of race, violence, and America’s identity at home and abroad.
These stories represent the "second wave" of fiction--works about the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict as it moved into both countries, touching and forever changing not only the veterans, but also their families and their societies. Contributors include John Edgar Wideman, Larry Brown, Robert Olen Butler, Philip Caputo, Bobbie Ann Mason, Ngo Tu Lap, Tim O'Brien, and others.
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
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.
The decade of the 1960s was a time of passionate politics and resounding rhetoric. The “resounding rhetoric,” from Kennedy’s celebrated inaugural address, to the outlandish antics of the Yippies, is the focus of this book. The importance of this volume is its consideration of both people in power (presidents) and people out of power (protesters), and its delineation of the different rhetorical bases that each had to work from in participating in the politics of the 1960s.
An excellent and lucid introduction to the study of political rhetoric, Presidents and Protesters places rhetorical acts within their specific political contexts, changing the direction of previous rhetorical studies from the sociological to the historical-political.
Above all, this is an intellectual history of the 1960s as seen through the rhetoric of the participants, which ultimately shows that the major participants utilized every form of political discourse available and, consequently, exhausted not only themselves but the rhetorical forms as well.
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 ongoing effort of the United States to account for its missing Vietnam War soldiers is unique. The United States requires the repatriation and positive identification of soldiers’ bodies to remove their names from the list of the missing. This quest for certainty in the form of the material, identified body marks a dramatic change from previous wars, in which circumstantial evidence often sufficed to account for missing casualties. In The Remains of War, Thomas M. Hawley considers why the body of the missing soldier came to assume such significance in the wake of the Vietnam War. Illuminating the relationship between the effort to account for missing troops and the political and cultural forces of the post-Vietnam era, Hawley argues that the body became the repository of the ambiguities and anxieties surrounding the U.S. involvement and defeat in Southeast Asia.
Hawley combines the theoretical insights of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Emmanuel Levinas with detailed research into the history of the movement to recover the remains of soldiers missing in Vietnam. He examines the practices that constitute the Defense Department’s accounting protocol: the archival research, archaeological excavation, and forensic identification of recovered remains. He considers the role of the American public and the families of missing soldiers in demanding the release of pows and encouraging the recovery of the missing; the place of the body of the Vietnam veteran within the war’s legacy; and the ways that memorials link individual bodies to the body politic. Highlighting the contradictions inherent in the recovery effort, Hawley reflects on the ethical implications of the massive endeavor of the American government and many officials in Vietnam to account for the remains of American soldiers.
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.
Six Vietnamese Poets: Bilingual Edition
Translated from the Vietnamese by Kevin Bowen and Nguyen Ba Chung Northwestern University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PL4378.65.E5A135 2002 | Dewey Decimal 895.92213408
Six Vietnamese Poets brings together for the first time the works of six writers, three women and three men, who came of age during the American War in Vietnam. In their verse, contemporary readers discover the richness and diversity of Vietnamese life and literature from a bold range poetic styles from free verse to romantic lyric to traditional classic Vietnamese forms. This bilingual edition features poets from North and South, men and women, combat soldiers and poet-soldiers writing of life in Vietnam through the turbulent final four decades of the twentieth century.
Speaking to the Heart
After a long night up writing poems,
a streak of sunlight leapt into my room.
I ran to the yard,
running as if I were a child,
footprints breaking the earth's first dew,
chest brushing softly the short grass.
Earth and sky seeped into me like wine.
I saw my heart in the shape of a ploughshare<
resting on the earth's shoulder,
the heart thumping, steadily ploughing into time.
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.
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.
In the first book-length study of Vietnamese American literature, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud probes the complexities of Vietnamese American identity and politics. She provides an analytical introduction to the literature, showing how generational differences play out in genre and text. In addition, she asks, can the term Vietnamese American be disassociated from representations of the war without erasing its legacy?
Pelaud delineates the historical, social, and cultural terrains of the writing as well as the critical receptions and responses to them. She moves beyond the common focus on the Vietnam war to develop an interpretive framework that integrates post-colonialism with the multi-generational refugee, immigrant, and transnational experiences at the center of Vietnamese American narratives.
Her readings of key works, such as Andrew Pham's Catfish and Mandala and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge show how trauma, racism, class and gender play a role in shaping the identities of Vietnamese American characters and narrators.
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.
To Reason Why
Jeffrey Kimball Temple University Press, 1990 Library of Congress DS558.T6 1990b | Dewey Decimal 959.7043373
This anthology provides a comprehensive overview of the major theories about the causes of American involvement in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975. Presenting the often conflicting arguments advanced by national leaders, policy makers, strategists, historians, social scientists, journalists, and activists, this volume represents the major reasons why and how the U.S. became involved, diplomatically and militarily, in the quagmire of Vietnam. As the first book to focus on the debate about the reasoning and causes of U.S. involvement, it fills a major gap in the study of the Vietnam war.
A Trauma Artist examines how O'Brien's works variously rewrite his own traumatization during the war in Vietnam as a never-ending fiction that paradoxically "recovers" personal experience by both recapturing and (re)disguising it. Mark Heberle considers O'Brien's career as a writer through the prisms of post-traumatic stress disorder, postmodernist metafiction, and post-World War II American political uncertainties and public violence.
Based on recent conversations with O'Brien, previously published interviews, and new readings of all his works through 1999, this book is the first study to concentrate on the role and representation of trauma as the central focus of all O'Brien's works, whether situated in Vietnam, in post-Vietnam America, or in the imagination of protagonists suspended between the two. By doing so, Heberle redefines O'Brien as a major U.S. writer of the late twentieth century whose representations of self-damaging experiences and narratives of recovery characterize not only the war in Vietnam but also relationships between fathers and sons and men and women in the post-traumatic culture of the contemporary United States.
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.
How could the United States lose a war that seemed easy to win?
When the Viet Nam War ended, with the United States of America defeated, many wondered how a military powerhouse lost to a “raggedy-ass, little fourth-rate country,” as President Lyndon Johnson called North Viet Nam. Frank Scotton knew why. A young Foreign Service Officer assigned to Viet Nam in 1962, Scotton drove roads others avoided, walked trails alone, and spent nights in remote hamlets. Learning the Vietnamese language, carrying a carbine, and living out of a rucksack, he proved that small teams, correctly trained and led, could compete with communist units.
In 1964, Scotton organized mobile platoons to emphasize political aspects of the conflict. Those special teams, adopted by the CIA, became models for the national pacification program. He prepared units in some provinces at the request of General Westmoreland, and in 1965 and 1966 worked with Special Forces. While organizational assistant and troubleshooter for Robert Komer in 1967, and subsequently with William Colby in the military headquarters (MACV), Scotton reluctantly concluded that improved counterinsurgency techniques could not beat back the challenges posed by North Viet Nam resolve, lack of political energy in South Viet Nam, and the dissolving American commitment. For the first time Scotton shares his important observations and reasoned conclusions about the United States’s involvement in the Viet Nam War.
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.
This anthology of war literature includes some of the personal narratives, short stories, novel excerpts, drama, and poetry to come out of the Vietnam War. Study questions at the end of each section, plus a time line, glossary, and bibliography make this an indispensable coursebook.
Novel excerpts include: Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, David Halberstam’s One Very Hot Day, and Jeff Danziger’s Lieutenant Kitt. Short stories include Asa Baber’s “The Ambush,” Tobias Wolff’s “Wingfield,” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.” Drama excerpts include David Rabe’s Streamers and Lanford Wilson’s The 5th of July. Poets include: Denise Levertov, Jan Barry, E. D. Ehrhart, Basil T. Paquet, Stephen Sossaman, Bryan Alec Floyd, Bruce Weigl, and Trang Thi Nga.
During the four years General Creighton W. Abrams was commander in Vietnam, he and his staff made more than 455 tape recordings of briefings and meetings. In 1994, with government approval, Lewis Sorley began transcribing and analyzing the tapes. Sorley’s laborious, time-consuming effort has produced a picture of the senior US commander in Vietnam and his associates working to prosecute a complex and challenging military campaign in an equally complex and difficult political context.
The concept of the nature of the war and the way it was conducted changed during Abrams’s command. The progressive buildup of US forces was reversed, and Abrams became responsible for turning the war back to the South Vietnamese.
The edited transcriptions in this volume clearly reflect those changes in policy and strategy. They include briefings called the Weekly Intelligence Estimate Updates as well as meetings with such visitors as the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other high-ranking officials. The 2005 winner of the Army Historical Foundation’s Trefry Award, Vietnam Chronicles reveals, for the first time, the difficult task that Creighton Abrams accomplished with tact and skill.
One of the few Vietnamese Army officers who also saw substantial service in Ho Chi Minh’s National Liberation Army against the French, Tran Ngoc Chau made a momentous and difficult decision after five years with the Viet Minh: he changed sides.
Although his brother Tran Ngoc Hien remained loyal to the North, Chau’s Buddhist training and his disillusionment with aspects of the communists’ philosophies led him to throw his support to the nationalists and assist the Americans. It was a decision that would cost him dearly when former military school colleague Nguyen Van Thieu, fearing a political rivalry, imprisoned Chau—by then a lieutenant colonel and the Secretary General of the National Assembly’s Lower House—despite popular sentiment and the support of Americans like John Paul Vann and Daniel Ellsberg.
At every turn Chau stood on principle, however, opposing government corruption, refusing favoritism, and remaining steadfast in his dedication to democracy. His principles would cost him again when, after the fall of Saigon, he was imprisoned in a North Vietnamese re-education camp and even after release kept under continuous surveillance.
His detailed memoir reveals an astute understanding of the Vietnamese political situation and national culture that failed to register with U.S. leaders—and offers valuable insights into how to cope with similar conflicts in the future.
As Ellsberg has put it, “Vietnam Labyrinth is unmatched, both for its narrative and for lessons to be learned for our current interventions.
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.
The conflict that Americans call the "Vietnam War" was only one of many incursions into Vietnam by foreign powers. However, it has had a profound effect on the Vietnamese people who left their homeland in the years following the fall of Saigon in 1975. Collected here are fifteen first-person narratives written by refugees who left Vietnam as children and later enrolled as students at the University of California, where they studied with the well-known scholar and teacher Sucheng Chan. She has provided a comprehensive introduction to their autobiographical accounts, which succinctly encompasses more than a thousand years of Vietnamese history. The volume concludes with a thorough bibliography and videography compiled by the editor.While the volume is designed specifically for today's college students, its compelling stories and useful history will appeal to all readers who want to know more about Vietnam and especially about the fates of children who emigrated to the U.S.
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.
The War Council
Andrew Preston Harvard University Press, 2006 Library of Congress DS558.P745 2006 | Dewey Decimal 959.7043373
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.
In The Weekly War, James Landers provides the first in-depth investigation of how the three major newsmagazines—Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report—covered the Vietnam War and the impact their coverage had on the American public, presidents, and policymakers. From March 1965 through January 1973 these magazines reached nearly one-third of adult Americans—second only to news programs on network television. Despite the popular impression that this was primarily a “television war,” the newsmagazines played a prominent role in informing the public about warfare and war policy.
While television reporting provided a here-and-now version of events, these magazines published articles that combined on-the-scene coverage with analysis and commentary. Because these publications worked on a more leisurely weekly deadline as opposed to the daily deadlines of television or newspapers, they were able to provide distinct perspectives on the week’s events, along with factual material. The writing was typically more vivid and detailed than that of newspapers, and the occasional use of color photographs contributed to the impact of the stories.
Each magazine had its own niche and distinct editorial style: Newsweek provided a mainstream liberal perspective, while Time took a more conservative viewpoint and U.S. News & World Report had an ultraconservative outlook. The editors of each magazine aimed to reach like-minded readers, knowing full well that a reader who disliked one magazine could simply switch to another. Landers demonstrates how public-opinion shifts during the war forced the newsmagazines, especially Time, to change too.
This book reflects a thorough examination of roughly nine hundred articles on the Vietnam War published by the three major newsmagazines. Landers also gathered documents from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Richard M. Nixon Presidential Materials Project to reveal the attention paid to the newsmagazines by presidents and policymakers and their attempts to influence or manipulate coverage.
In addition to making a major contribution to the history of print journalism, The Weekly War complements scholarship on television news coverage of the Vietnam War. This volume will appeal to students and teachers of history and journalism, as well as the general reader interested in a unique view of the Vietnam War.
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.
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
Women Strike for Peace is the only historical account of this ground-breaking women's movement. Amy Swerdlow, a founding member of WSP, restores to the historical record a significant chapter on American politics and women's studies. Weaving together narrative and analysis, she traces WSP's triumphs, problems, and legacy for the women's movement and American society.
Women Strike for Peace began on November 1, 1961, when thousands of white, middle-class women walked out of their kitchens and off their jobs in a one-day protest against Soviet and American nuclear policies. The protest led to a national organization of women who fought against nuclear arms and U.S. intervention in Vietnam. While maintaining traditional maternal and feminine roles, members of WSP effectively challenged national policies—defeating a proposal for a NATO nuclear fleet, withstanding an investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and sending one of its leaders to Congress as a peace candidate.
As a study of a dissident group grounded in prescribed female culture, and the struggle of its members to avoid being trapped within that culture, this book adds a crucial new dimension to women's studies. In addition, this account of WSP's success as a grass roots, nonhierarchical movement will be of great interest to historians, political scientists, and anyone interested in peace studies or conflict resolution.
"Swerdlow has re-created a unique piece of American political history, a chapter of the international peace movement, and an origin of the modern feminist movement. No historian, activist, or self-respecting woman should be without Women Strike for Peace. It shows not only how one group of women created change, but also how they inevitably changed themselves."—Gloria Steinem
Phillip Caputo, Larry Heinemann, Tim O’Brien, and Robert Olen Butler: four young midwestern Americans coming of age during the 1960s who faced a difficult personal decision—whether or not to fight in Vietnam. Each chose to participate. After coming home, these four veterans became prizewinning authors telling the war stories and life stories of soldiers and civilians. The four extended conversations included in Writing Vietnam, Writing Life feature revealing personal stories alongside candid assessments of each author’s distinct roles as son, soldier, writer, and teacher of creative writing.
As Tobey Herzog's thoughtful interviews reveal, these soldier-authors have diverse upbringings, values, interests, writing careers, life experiences, and literary voices. They hold wide-ranging views on, among other things, fatherhood, war, the military, religion, the creative process, the current state of the world, and the nature of both physical and moral courage. For each author, the conversation and richly annotated chronology provide an overview of the writer’s life, the intersection of memory and imagination in his writing, and the path of his literary career. Together, these four life stories also offer mini-tableaux of the fascinating and troubling time of 1960s and 1970s America. Above all, the conversations reveal that each author is linked forever to the Vietnam War, the country of Vietnam, and its people.