Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam

By Christian G. Appy | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION
1.
Hemingway, Farewell to Arms, pp. 177-78.
2.
Emerson, Winners and Losers, p. 4.
3.
Brende and Parson, Vietnam Veterans, pp. 203-40.
4.
In a newly opened vet center, I began one of my first interviews for this project as a nearby television showed pictures of former hostages being cheered as they paraded through the streets of Washington D.C., Many Vietnam veterans found these homecoming ceremonies deeply upsetting. Billy Cizinski interview, 27 Jan. 1981. Unless indicated otherwise, all interviews are from my personal files.
5.
While I argue that survivor-heroes were primarily a 1980s phenomenon, H. Bruce Franklin provides persuasive evidence that the political effort to make American POWs dominant symbols of the Vietnam War began as early as the first Nixon administration. See "The POW/MIA Myth", Atlantic, Dec. 1991.
6.
The Reagan quotations are from Gibson, The Perfect War, p. 5, and Capps, The Unfinished War, p. 147. Capps describes a White House ceremony of February 1981 during which Reagan awarded the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam veteran and lamented the fact that the veterans had not received the sort of homecoming bestowed on the recently returned hostages. Bush's words are from Sifry and Cerf, The Gulf War Reader, p. 313. For a brilliant early analysis of this right-wing interpretation of the war within the military see Burdick, Vietnam Revisioned.
7.
Newsweek, 14 Dec. 1981. Goldman and Fuller's Charlie Company is more penetrating than the magazine story out of which it grew. It too, however, presents the war almost exclusively through the memories of veterans. The authors adopt the voices of the veterans, largely avoiding the effort to assess or interpret their memories against other sources. Similarly, MacPherson offers "cascades" of" subjective remembrances and opinions" from Vietnam veterans without placing their views in a sufficient historical context to explore fully the meaning of their experiences. See Long Time Passing, p. 7. Authorial reticence also characterizes the four major oral histories of Vietnam veterans. In each case the author collects and edits, presenting the material with little context or comment. See Baker, Nam; Goff and Sanders, Brothers; Santoli, Everything We Had; and Terry, Bloods.
8.
"Remembering Vietnam", Atlantic, May 1985, p. 9.
9.
Contrast the Vietnam movies with three of the most famous photographic images of the war: (1) a Buddhist monk burning to death, having immolated himself to protest the repressive government of Ngo Dinh Diem, the American- backed ruler of South Vietnam, (2) a young South Vietnamese girl running naked toward the camera, her skin burning with napalm dropped by American jets, and (3) a South Vietnamese officer firing a pistol at the temple of a Viet Cong prisoner. Single photographs do not have as much potential as film to provide political or historical context, yet each of these images raises more fundamental questions about the Vietnam War than most scenes in Hollywood movies about Vietnam.
10.
The figures on work-related deaths come from Levison, Working-ClassMajority

-323-

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Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Facing the Wall 1
  • 1 - Working-Class War 11
  • 2 - Life before the Nam 44
  • 3 - Basic Training 86
  • 4 - Ominous Beginnings 117
  • 5 - The Terms of Battle 145
  • 6 - Drawing Fire and Laying Waste 174
  • 7 - A War for Nothing 206
  • 8 - What Are We Becoming? 250
  • 9 - Am I Right or Wrong? 298
  • Notes 323
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 355
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