America and the Vietnam War: Re-Examining the Culture and History of a Generation

America and the Vietnam War: Re-Examining the Culture and History of a Generation

America and the Vietnam War: Re-Examining the Culture and History of a Generation

America and the Vietnam War: Re-Examining the Culture and History of a Generation

Synopsis

This title reconsiders the social and cultural aspects of the Vietnam War that helped to fundamentally change America. With chapters written by subject area specialists, the book takes on subjects such as women's role in the war, the music and the films of the time, the Vietnamese perspective, and more.

Excerpt

Mary Kathryn Barbier

In Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory, Carol Reardon demonstrates how the “fog of war,” soldiers’ recollections, and newspaper accounts shaped a historical memory that glorified Pickett and his men at the expense of the other participants, both Southern and Northern, and suggested that the event was a major turning point in the Civil War. Reardon’s book demonstrates how the memory of the events, which differs from the history of the events, was used by Northerners and Southerners to promote sectional reconciliation. Conversely, the memory of the Vietnam War has been tied to assigning blame because the war has traditionally been viewed as a mistake and a national tragedy. the memory of, and the historical writing on, the conflict in Vietnam have both occurred within the context of the tumultuous 1960s. Only recently has a type of post-Vietnam generation memory and history begun to emerge.

Many factors influence the development of historical memory and perhaps make the telling of history much more difficult. Writing the history of contentious events, such as the Vietnam War, can, as a result, be challenging, particularly for the historian. Although the United States’ involvement in Vietnam dates back to World War ii, most Americans remember it only in terms of the turbulent 1960s, because it was not until then that most Americans became aware of the small Asian country and the role that American troops were playing there. Thinking of the 1960s brings back memories of social unrest, of revolution: the Civil Rights Movement, “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” political demonstrations on college campuses, Woodstock, flower children and communal living, Ed Sullivan, the Beatles, and Elvis Presley, and, yes, the Vietnam War.

By 1975 most Americans had concluded that even though American troops had won every battle, they had lost the war. Someone had to be blamed, and there was enough blame to spread around. Surely both the military and the government were at fault, and Americans no longer completely trusted either. the social and political upheaval that occurred as a result of, and in conjunction with, the Vietnam War colored Americans’ perceptions of the war and of the . . .

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