Books by Lewis Milford

Released: April 1, 1989

An eyebrow-raising work of social history that examines how America's soldiers have been treated after each of this country's ten wars. Those who experienced the great social tugging and wrenching that accompanied the return of America's Vietnam veterans have been prone to believe that the hostility that greeted those returnees was an aberration—that American soldiers have always been greeted as heroes. But Severo (Lisa H., 1985) and Milford, an attorney, argue that the treatment accorded Vietnam veterans was actually in the real tradition of American history and that those who think otherwise have been lulled by the uncharacteristic mass adoration of returning WW II veterans. The authors also argue that the treatment of soldiers is not a matter of small concern. By 1980, there were some 28 million living Americans who has served in the military, with yet another 53 million dependents: "Thus a third of our population has had a direct or indirect role in serving the military interests of this country." Throughout our history, the authors assert, these people have been victimized by our government's overall intention to limit its financial liability to veterans, "more like a slippery insurance company than a policy rooted in the idea of justice and fair reward." The authors find comparisons between the Agent Orange fiasco and the manner in which Surgeon-General Steinberg decided that soldiers returning home from Cuba after the Spanish-American War suffered only from "mild" fevers that would soon go away. And the tepid welcome given to Vietnam veterans was not unlike the cold shoulder given to returning Korean War vets. As well, the public anguish of American soldiers over Vietnam atrocities was only a sequel to the public disclosure by soldiers of atrocities committed during the Philippine Insurrection. Logically presented, and a noteworthy indictment of governmental disregard. An interesting historical complement, too, to Bob Greene's Homecoming: When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam (1988). Read full book review >