The first book to give equal weight to the Vietnamese and American sides of the Vietnam war.
In this dark account of the political and diplomatic sides of the Vietnam wars and the psychic aftermath, the author contends that the Indochina experience refuted (temporarily) the simplistic assumptions that in foreign policy America always ``meant well'' and that communism was always ``bad.'' The epithets popularly employed to characterize the enemy in Vietnam--``indifferent to human life,'' ``dishonest,'' ``ruthless''--came to characterize our own actions as well. From counterinsurgency expert Edward Lansdale's ``cheerful brutalization of democratic values'' to President Nixon's attempt to ``make war look like peace,'' the moral breakdown is assessed here in disturbing detail. Young goes on to argue that more recent U.S. intervention in Lebanon, Libya, Grenada and Panama suggests that few lessons were learned in Vietnam--indeed, that the past decade has seen a dangerous resurgence of native faith in the benevolence of American foreign meddling. This, she maintains, goes hand in hand with a renewed commitment to use force in a global crusade against Third World revolutions and governments. Young, a history professor at New York University, paints a grim picture of our part in the Indochina war and its excoriating effects on the nation. Photos. (Jan.)