The Vietnam War left wounds that have taken three decades to healindeed some scars remain even today. In A Time for Peace, prominent American historian Robert D. Schulzinger sheds light on how deeply etched memories of this devastating conflict have altered America's political, social, and cultural landscape. Schulzinger examines the impact of the war from many angles. He traces the long, twisted, and painful path of reconciliation with Vietnam, the heated controversy over soldiers who were missing in action, the influx of over a million Vietnam refugees into the US, and the plight of Vietnam veterans, many of whom returned home alienated, unhappy, and unappreciated. Schulzinger looks at how the controversies of the war have continued to be fought in books and films and, perhaps most important, he explores the power of the Vietnam metaphor on foreign policy, particularly in Central America, Somalia, the Gulf War, and the war in Iraq. Using a vast array of sources, A Time for Peace provides an illuminating account of a war that still looms large in the American imagination.
The war on terror and the Iraq war have invited numerous comparisons to the Vietnam War. These three fine books show that as new information and declassified records become available about the conflict that fractured the 1960s and 1970s, new investigations and interpretations are worthy and deeply instructive. The Vietnam War may have ended more than 30 years ago, but its legacy still roils American culture, politics, and diplomacy. Fry (history, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas; Dixie Looks Abroad: The South and U.S. Foreign Relations, 1789-1973) focuses on the war-related congressional inquiries of the Johnson era, which framed and-unlike the Johnson administration-encouraged public debate about the war. The 1966 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearings, chaired by Sen. J. William Fulbright, and the 1967 Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, chaired by Sen. John C. Stennis, were conducted by two Southern lions of Congress. Fulbright promoted a negotiated settlement, as he realized the war could not be won solely by American military might, while Stennis supported bombing North Vietnam into submission. The public majority slowly came to accept the Fulbright position. LBJ refused the recommendations of both committees and instead, as the author concludes, clung to a murky middle ground that diminished his credibility and ultimately drove him from a second term. Vivid retellings of testimonies by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Maxwell Taylor, and others enliven the text. These hearings were vital public education forums, and in the case of Fulbright's hearings, made opposition to the war respectable. Fry's book is strongly recommended for academic and larger public collections. Schulzinger (history, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1945) looks at U.S.-Vietnam relations in the decades since the war, from the frosty Ford/Carter years, through the slow thaw of the Reagan administration, to full diplomatic recognition during the Bush/Clinton era. His lively narrative covers veterans' frequently painful readjustment to life back home, and a most fascinating chapter portrays life in America for the million Vietnamese refugees who escaped the North Vietnamese onslaught in 1975. Rounding out this fine survey are discussions of the war's contribution-so to speak-to literature, notably in the works of Graham Greene, Tim O'Brien, and Norman Mailer, and deliberations on some of the more than 400 motion pictures and television programs that portray the Vietnam experience, e.g., Coming Home, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon. Schulzinger also assesses how the Vietnam Memorial and other monuments aided the nation's healing. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Wiest (history, Univ. of Southern Mississippi; Haig: The Evolution of a Commander) has collected 15 uniformly excellent new essays by highly regarded scholars, veterans, and victims from differing military, political, and academic perspectives to present the war in a global context. Readers will learn about the war as fought by South Vietnamese troops, by the North Vietnam army, and by American and Australian GIs. Bui Tai, a high-ranking Vietnam Communist Party official, tells how victory turned bitter when the victors threw 300,000 South Vietnamese officials into jail and created large numbers of "boat people" who drowned while attempting to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of their new Communist masters. Le Ly Hayslip (When Heaven and Earth Changed Places) chillingly tells how she and numerous villagers throughout the south were uprooted from their homes and brutally treated as sufferers of President Diem's Strategic Hamlet Program. Daniel Hallin's investigation of the media, which was often assailed for turning the public against the war, reveals that the press, rather than causing increased public uneasiness, more often responded to it. This accessible, multilayered overview will appeal to general readers and to specialists who want a good supplementary text for Vietnam War-era courses. Strongly recommended for academic and public libraries.-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.