TELLTALE HEARTS by Adam Garfinkle


The Origins and Impact of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement
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 A personal attack on the radical elements of the Vietnam antiwar movement in which the author speculates that pot-smoking, long-haired ultraleftists not only did not help end the war, but were responsible for prolonging it. Garfinkle, a resident scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, protested the Vietnam war as a student in the late 1960s and early 1970s. ``I went to antiwar rallies, but usually disagreed with the speeches,'' he says. Here Garfinkle disagrees vehemently with anyone who believes that the antiwar movement helped end the fighting in Vietnam. He says he is not writing a personal journal or a history, but an ``interpretation'' or ``speculation'' about the antiwar movement's history and legacy. Garfinkle speculates that most war protestors were well meaning. But, he contends, the movement's radical fringe ruined all hope that rational arguments would influence the course of the war. On the war itself, Garfinkle blames American political and military leaders for using the wrong strategy. He speculates that the Americans and South Vietnamese ``probably'' could have brought the Vietnamese communists to a Korea-style stalemate. Garfinkle's MO in buttressing his argument is to quote other analysts who agree with him and dismiss those who do not. He has a special animus for the countercultural elements of the antiwar movement``lurid leftists and yelping Yippies''whom he castigates for their unclean, antiestablishment mores: These ``flaky'' people ``combined fear and indignation with personal indulgences, sexual and drug-related.'' Garfinkle garbles this overwritten narrative with obfuscating academic jargon and rambling, wayward sentences, including this metaphorically mixed one: ``One consequence of the antiwar movement is that by radicalizing formerly liberal organizations, the web of synapses through which the agenda and the vocabulary of the adversary culture reaches the muscle and sinew of the American body politic has been widened and quickened.'' Guaranteed to set aging flower children's teeth on edge.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-12520-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995