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978-1-883011-58-1 / 1883011582

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About the book:

In the last few years, with the publication of such books as Jacques Leslie's The Mark and William Prochnau's Once Upon a Distant War, historians and former correspondents have been examining closely the role of journalism in the conduct of the Vietnam War. The two volumes of Reporting Vietnam offer a trove of material for such studies. Part One contains combat-front writing by journalists who are well known to students of Vietnam War history--Stanley Karnow, David Halberstam, Frances FitzGerald, Bernard Fall, Neil Sheehan, Ward Just, and Zalin Grant among them. The hefty volume--which runs the gamut of journalistic genres, including hard news, analysis, profiles, think pieces, and interviews--covers the home front as well, from which the likes of Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe have their say.

The collection opens with a fairly dispassionate account from Time magazine reporting the deaths of the first U.S. military advisors in 1959; it ends with the complete text of Daniel Lang's long New Yorker piece, "Casualties of War," the basis for Brian De Palma's controversial movie of the same name. In between are accounts of battles on the streets of Chicago and the Central Highlands, studies of the rise of black-power militancy on the ever-changing front lines, and perceptive portraits of ordinary soldiers on both sides of the war. Among the book's many highlights is Neil Sheehan's memoir of his change from hawk to dove as the war progressed. "I have sometimes thought," he writes, "when a street urchin with sores covering his legs stopped me and begged for a few cents' worth of Vietnamese piastres, that he might be better off growing up as a political commissar. He would then, at least, have some self-respect." Such changing views, we can now clearly see, helped shift public opinion in the United States against the war. --Gregory McNamee

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