Wounds of War: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam

Wounds of War: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam

Wounds of War: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam

Wounds of War: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam

Excerpt

This book was written about the Vietnam experience and its effects on the men who fought there because we believe it has something to say that has not been told, and cannot be told, by anyone who has not come to know well men who saw extensive combat in that war. Large‐ scale studies of Vietnam veterans, relying on questionnaires or single interview procedures, have reported numerous postwar adjustment problems of men whose lives were interrupted by service in Vietnam, but have provided only a glimpse of the profound personal transformation that occurs in most who were exposed to heavy combat. Much of the clinical literature as well, fails to capture adequately the intensely personal, subjective experience of combat for individual veterans, nor has it illuminated how that experience continues to shape the rest of their lives.

At the heart of the Vietnam experience was the sustained exposure to life-threatening combat, of which veterans' written accounts—fictional and non-fictional —have begun to emerge only in recent years. Combat in Vietnam was so overpowering and shattering an experience that it has required a considerable period of time for it to be mastered sufficiently for participants to write about it. No doubt for comparable reasons, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, perhaps the finest novel ever written about combat, appeared . . .

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