The Viet Nam War/The American War: Images and Representations in Euro-American and Vietnamese Exile Narratives

The Viet Nam War/The American War: Images and Representations in Euro-American and Vietnamese Exile Narratives

The Viet Nam War/The American War: Images and Representations in Euro-American and Vietnamese Exile Narratives

The Viet Nam War/The American War: Images and Representations in Euro-American and Vietnamese Exile Narratives

Synopsis

"This book seeks to reformulate the canon of writings on what is called "the Viet Nam War" in America and "the American War" in Viet Nam. Until recently, the accepted canon has consisted almost exclusively of American white male combat narratives, which often reflect and perpetuate Asian stereotypes. Renny Christopher introduces material that displays a bicultural perspective, including works by Vietnamese exile writers and by lesser-known Euro-Americans who attempt to bridge the cultural gap. Christopher traces the history of American stereotyping of Asians and shows how Euro-American ethnocentricity has limited most American authors' ability to represent fairly the Vietnamese in their stories. By giving us access to Vietnamese representations of the war, she creates a context for understanding the way the war was experienced from the "other" side, and she offers perceptive, well-documented analyses of how and why Americans have so emphatically excised the Vietnamese from narratives about a war fought in their own country." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

I came to write this book because I experienced a complete turnaround in my perceptions of what I, like most Americans, used to call "Vietnam," and what I now call "the American war in Viet Nam" That transformation came about largely through my reading of noncanonical works concerning that war. My aim in this book is to work toward bringing my readers around to the same transformation, but the only way to experience that transformation completely is to read the primary sources I discuss in chapter 2 and in the third section of chapter 4.

My first knowledge of the war came during my earliest childhood in rural California, from watching the news on television. The war lasted for my entire youth; it was always there, small, on the television screen. The chronology of the war lies like an overlay in my mind on the chronology of my childhood. I was born in 1957--the year after the elections failed to take place that were supposed to unify North and South Viet Nam according to the Geneva accords. There were already American "advisors" in the country, and it had started to become a regular feature in the news. I was six when Diem and Kennedy were assassinated. I do not remember Diem; I remember not Kennedy's death, but his funeral: the black horse with the empty boots backwards in the stirrups. I was in second grade when the infamous Tonkin Gulf incident took place. I have a vague memory of Johnson's voice droning, and Johnson looking very earnest, and my mother disapproving of everything he did.

I was eight when the man who would become my husband fifteen years later went with the earliest marines to Chu Lai to build the landing strip there, from which so many planes would take off for the next eight years. From the years 1967 to 1969 I remember vividly four news events: the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., "Tet" (which I have now learned to call the Tet Offensive of 1968, or Têt Mậu Than), and the lunar landing. There was news of the war every night, like background noise, and that background noise focused on the American boys fighting the war.

My family followed that typical 1960s practice of eating dinner in front of the six o'clock news. We watched Huntley and Brinkley. My brother and I regularly said "Good night, Chet," "Good night, David," at bedtime. From the time I was old enough to pay attention, I heard about mythical places . . .

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